The SCARPA Squad

Winner!
Peoples Millions

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ITV Region: Tyne Tees / Year: 2010

The Children’s Society
Brunswick Methodist Church
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE1 7BJ

In Newcastle, 2% of all young people aged between 10 and 16yrs old are reported missing to the police – which is over 600 different young people every year – Furthermore, there are other young people who go missing who are not even reported to the police – no-one is even looking for them while they are gone.

The SCARPA project works with young people who run away or go missing. When young people go missing they are vulnerable and need help. Sometimes they might have somewhere to go like an older friend’s flat, but sometimes they are out on the streets all night. The young people we work with have run away because of difficult situations at home, or because of other problems in their lives such as school problems or being bullied.

Sadly there are those in our community minded to exploit and abuse vulnerable young people – and much of our work in partnership with the police seeks to tackle this, and help young people to understand when they are being used and taken advantage of. We also provide support and help to parents: if it’s 2a.m. and you don’t know where your 13 year old is the worry and stress caused is immense.

SCARPA also helps young people who go missing to make safer choices on the street. Going missing is one of the ways that young people can tell us that things aren’t great for them -and in those instances we need to make sure someone reaches out to young people – makes a serious effort to get to know them, and helps them if they want that. In many cases we find if we’re persistent, then young people welcome the chance to try and get some help and change things for the better.

We know that we’ve helped young people to do something special when:
· They are no longer running away or being exploited
· We can support them so they don’t feel they need to go missing again in the future
With People’s Millions money we will be able to set up the SCARPA Squad:
Young people often listen to other young people – that’s why the SCARPA Squad could make so much difference. The SCARPA Squad will be a group of young people who have previously been helped by SCARPA to stop going missing. They understand the issues – and now they want to help other young people too.

These young people will assist SCARPA workers in the following areas of work:
· Direct support to other young people in crisis;
· Presentations and group work with other groups of young people at risk;
· Outreach – helping SCARPA to work out on the streets reaching as many young people who go missing as possible.

The SCARPA Squad will be featured on the ITV Tyne Tees regional evening programme on 25 November 2010. If you would like to vote for us please contact Vikki Anderson or Julie McHugh on 01912 210 836 or email us at SCA@childrenssociety.org.uk so that we can provide you with the voting telephone number on the day.