If you are under 16

If you are under 16 the law says you cannot live alone. A lot of help described here will be of no use – for example you cannot be referred to a hostel or supported accommodation, you cannot claim benefits or work full time. Some of these restrictions still apply if you are 16 but have not officially left Year 11 (at end of June). Your main options are:

Get help sorting things out with your parents. This might be from someone else in your family, or someone you get support from. Otherwise Children’s Social Care may be able to help.

Living with someone else – e.g. another family member or friend’s parents. They should be able to claim Child Benefit and Tax Credits for you instead of your parent(s), to support you. You may or may not have your parents’ permission to live with someone else. If you are under 16 (or under 18 if you have a disability) and plan to spend more than 28 days living with someone who is not close family (for example a friend or wider family member) then Children’s Social Care have to be told, so that they can make an assessment about your safety and that you will be cared for.

If you are kicked out or if it is not safe for you to live at home, Children’s Social Care may get involved to work with you and your family and make a plan, or look after you if this is not possible or not a safe option. You could ask a trusted adult – for example a teacher – to refer you. Otherwise you can ring the Children’s Front Door and speaking to a Social Worker.

Your options change when you are 16, so you may decide to stick it out until then, and plan for the future. See also here. Some options also change when you officially leave school (at the end of June in Year 11). For example you could be referred to a hostel.

Running away is a big risk to take

Try to sort things out before it gets that bad. If you are under 16 and picked up by the police they will try and return you back home. If you have left because of violence or abuse, they should not return you until they have checked out your circumstances and decided whether it is safe for you to return or not. If it isn’t safe, they should find somewhere for you to stay until they have looked into your situation properly. You can also phone Missing People to pass a message home.