Homelessness and running away

Homelessness is having nowhere to live. Sometimes things can get so bad for people that they feel like running away from home. Get help and advice on who to contact if you're thinking about running away or are already living on the streets.

why people run away

Running away from home isn't always planned. It can be a last-minute decision, and you might not be prepared – with no money, warm clothes or any idea about where you might seek help.

Young people might run away because of:

Whatever you're going through, we're here to help.

Things to keep in mind:

  • being homeless means not having somewhere to live
  • this can also include sofa surfing
  • living on the streets is very hard and you might be at risk
  • think about who can help and get support if you're thinking of running away
  • if you're in danger or need urgent help, you can call the police by dialling 999
  • we're here to help if you or a friend have run away from home.

unhappy at home?

If you're finding living at home too difficult, your local authority may be able to:

  • help you sort things out with your parents
  • arrange for you to live with another family member or adult (like an aunt, grandparent or a friend's parent)
  • find you emergency accommodation (for example, with a foster carer), if you're worried about being hurt at home.

This often means talking to a social worker about how things have been at home.

if you want to run away

You might feel like there's nowhere else to turn, but running away to live on the streets is never the answer.

If you're having problems with your family, in care, or are being abused or neglected, there's ways you can get support.

If you feel like it's your only option, it can help to talk things through first. There might be options you hadn't thought about.

You could:

Running away from care

You might want to run away from care because you're:

  • not getting on with the staff or foster carers you live with
  • being bullied by other children in the same care home
  • being bullied about living in care
  • wanting to live with someone else, like friends or family.

We talk to lots of young people and know living in care can be difficult. Decisions can be made for you that you don't always agree with. Remember, you've got the right to tell someone if you're unhappy with your care placement. Get support with living in care.

what it's like on the streets

Living on the streets is very hard. You'll be cold, hungry and in danger from other people. 

You might face problems like:

  • having nowhere safe to sleep or rest
  • not having food or clean water
  • being at risk from dangerous or abusive people
  • not being able to wash yourself or your clothes
  • getting ill or physically hurt
  • having no money
  • being attacked or having your belongings stolen from you
  • feeling lonely. 

If you're living on the streets and need help, you can contact a counsellor at any time. Or you might find it useful to look at advice and support below. 

get help if you're homeless

Being homeless means not having somewhere to live, either because you've been kicked out of home or have run away and feel like you can't return.

Many homeless young people:

  • are forced to sleep on the street, which is not safe and can only be for a short time
  • get friends to lend them a bed or sofa for the night, which could be dangerous, against the law, or get the friend into trouble
  • stay with another family member for a short time.

If you're in any of these situations, you'll be considered homeless by law.

The authorities have to find ways to make sure that you have a safe home, so it's really important to find out what your options are:

helping a friend

If you know someone who's run away from home

  • encourage them to get some help for themselves
  • if you're still in contact with them, tell them to contact a counsellor on 0800 1111.

If a friend or relative has gone missing

  • contact the police as soon as possible by dialling 999
  • Missing People can offer support.