MP warns of risks to missing youngsters on our streets

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A Greater Manchester MP has said that unknown numbers of young people go missing from family homes in Greater Manchester because of problems within the family, often putting them at risk of exploitation.
Stockport MP Ann Coffey was speaking at the national conference of Depaul UK’s emergency accommodation network Nightstop UK.

The conference, held at the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation conference centre, in Ardwick Green North, brought together representatives from the 33 Nightstop services currently running in the UK and Ireland.

Ms Coffey, who is the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on runaway and missing children and adults, said: “We know that in Greater Manchester more than 4,200 children and young people went missing in 2014-15, but I believe the real figure is far higher because of the under-reporting of young people who go missing from families who say nothing.

“It is very worrying. Nightstop is a great community resource using volunteers who provide short-term accommodation in a safe place while the young person’s problems are resolved so they can return to their families or they can be found longer-term supported accommodation. This would be a great resource for young people in Greater Manchester.

She added: “The Homelessness Reduction Bill, which is going through the Commons, gives a much greater focus on preventing homelessness. A resource like Nightstop could prevent young people ending up with a life on the streets with all the dangers that entails. This could be a great partnership between Nightstop and councils for the benefit of young people.”

It is supported by funders including players of People’s Postcode Lottery who were represented at the conference.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “I am really impressed to meet so many passionate people from Nightstop. Homelessness continues to be a major issue and we are very glad to be able to help.”

Nightstop, run by homelessness charity Depaul UK, is an emergency accommodation network which trains volunteer hosts to take people facing homelessness into their homes for one or several nights, giving them a bed, hot meal and listening ear.

Depaul UK Chief Executive Martin Houghton-Brown said: “We are very keen to secure the funding to launch Nightstop in Greater Manchester where there is clearly a great need.

“The reality is that if we do not place young people who are unofficially missing in safe accommodation, they end up taking terrible risks to stay off the streets.”