Young people running away from home

There can be many reasons why you feel that running away from home is the only way you can deal with your problems. But there are places you can go for help and people you can talk to for advice.

Get help and advice about problems at home 

Whatever the problem, there are organisations that can help if you're feeling unhappy or unsafe at home and if you've problems outside the home, such as bullying, involvement with gangs or with drugs and alcohol, or relationship problems.

It's never too late to try to sort out your situation. Getting help while you're still at home is usually a better option than running away.

Arguments at home

If you are not getting along with your parents, and you feel you have to leave home because of arguments and disagreements, try talking to someone else about the problem, for example a teacher, relative or the leader of a youth group.

You can also call ChildLine or the NSPCC for free and confidential advice.

A mediation service may be able to help sort out your problems with your family. Mediators do not decide 'who is right.' Instead, they help you resolve the arguments for yourselves.

Young people in danger at home

Get help immediately if someone in your home is being violent or abusive towards you. Call the police on 999 if you are in danger.

You can also contact:

If you feel you have to leave immediately, try to arrange somewhere to stay before you leave, for example with a friend or relative, in a refuge, hostel or bed and breakfast hotel. Make sure you take a few necessities with you, such as:

  • identification documents, such as your passport, driving licence and national insurance card
  • a change of clothes and a warm coat
  • money or cash cards
  • your mobile phone (and charger) and/or address book
  • toiletries
  • any medication you need, such as an inhaler, anti-epileptic drugs or antidepressants
  • other important personal belongings, such as glasses

Contact your local council's housing department if you are forced to leave your home because of violence or abuse. The council should offer you somewhere to stay temporarily while it looks into your situation.

Read Shelter's checklist Emergency help for young people if you're thinking about leaving home in a hurry. 

Have your parents told you to leave home?

Once you are 16, if your parents ask you to leave, you will probably have to go.

Get advice immediately if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Call Shelter's free housing advice helpline 0808 800 4444 for advice on where to stay
  • Use our directory to find a local advice centre
  • Call ChildLine on 0800 1111 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 for help

Apply to the council as homeless

You may be able to get help from your local council if you have to leave your home because your parents have thrown you out or because you are scared of violence or abuse.

You don't have to be sleeping on the street to get help. If you are staying with a friend or in a hostel, you are still legally homeless.

If you are in this situation, you can make a homeless application to the council's housing department or homelessness unit. Even if the council offices are closed, there should be an emergency number you can call to get help.

Use Shelter's directory to find details of your council's homeless department or use your council's website to find out the numbers to call in your area.

How the council can help young people with housing problems

If the council finds that you are in priority need it may be able to find you somewhere to stay while it looks into your situation, for example a flat or hostel. The council then decides what kind of help it can offer you.

This might be:

  • help to find a new place to live
  • help to find a new place to live and somewhere to stay until you can find a new home
  • an offer of a permanent home. This may be a house or flat, or in supported accommodation such as a foyer

You are more likely to get help to find a permanent home if:

  • you are 16 or 17
  • you are 18 to 21 and have been in care or are vulnerable
  • you are pregnant or responsible for children

Find out more in the section on applying to the council as homeless.

Help and support if you're running away

Call or text the Runaway Helpline on 116 000 if you're thinking of running away or if you already have. They can give you information, help and support.

Calls and texts are free and confidential.

Help if you're sleeping on the street

Get advice immediately if you find yourself with nowhere to go tonight. Sleeping rough is particularly dangerous for young people.

Contact our helpline or use our directory to find an advice centre.


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