Most Reverend Archbishop Gary Beaver Launches Community Project to Help Runaway Children and the Homeless

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An alarming 300 children under the age of 11 run away every year in Surrey, and 120 of them are under nine years old.

Surrey On-The-Streets Project The Interdenominational Church of the Holy Lands. After many months of planning and building the volunteer list, His Eminence, The Most Reverend Archbishop Gary Beaver of the Interdenominational Church of the Holy Lands, launches the 24hr freephone helpline for anyone who has run away from home, care, or been forced to leave home.

Archbishop Gary Beaver stated “ This community project gives those on the streets of Surrey, an opportunity to pass a message to their family or carers, and can provide the caller with confidential advice. The service can also make referrals to other organisations and help a young person to get to a safe place and off the streets.” Archbishop Gary further stated “we cannot Judge runaways for their actions, this will not prevent anyone from running away in the future, and it will certainly not help those who have - rather, it will only serve to exclude them further.”

The helpline can be contacted by dialling a freephone number and either leaving a voicemail message or the choice to speak with one of the volunteers, ensuring a total confidential way to get a message home just to let family or friends know that they are alright. The project is also available for anyone that has information about a missing person or they are concerned about a missing friend or relative in the County of Surrey.

Running away is a dangerous activity that puts children and even adults at risk. It is a problem that affects approximately one in nine children before the age of sixteen, from a broad range of backgrounds. Children, male and female, from rural and urban areas, from white, black and minority ethnic communities, and from wealthy and poor areas, all run away. Approximately 20,000 runaways a year (around a quarter) are under the age of eleven. Running away is a signal that something is seriously wrong. An alarming 300 children under the age of 11 run away every year in Surrey, and 120 of them are under nine years old. A recent report stated that children who run away before the age of 11 are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted on the streets and twice as likely to be hit by their parents than older runaways. They are also more likely to sleep rough and be bullied at school.

One quarter of runaways will sleep in unsafe places putting themselves at serious risk of harm, with as many as one in fourteen children who run away, around 5,000 a year, surviving through stealing, begging, drug dealing and prostitution. Runaways with the most problems are likely to run to city centres and spend time on the streets, sleep outside, or stay in other unsafe places, such as with adults who may exploit them.

The Surrey On-The-Streets Project is seen as the first of many County wide community projects of this nature operated by the Independent Catholic denomination and supported by the OSMTH NGO Charity. Archbishop Gary confirmed the church’s plan to widen the project boundaries to include the Counties of Hampshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire later this year. At a Service being held on 1st March at 6pm, Archbishop Gary will officially open the 0800 731 1872 Support Line Number.

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