A PIONEERING missing person project has halved the number of young people who repeatedly leave their parents or guardians, it was revealed yesterday.

Gwent Missing Children has supported around 600 vulnerable young people and families since its launch a year ago.

In its first six months, the Lottery-backed project helped 234 runaways, 128 of whom have not been reported missing again, figures show.

The Welsh Government deputy minister for tackling poverty, Vaughan Gething AM, saw how the project has helped reduce the number of runaway incidents at a hub based in Brecon House, Pontypool, yesterday [May 1].

He said: “Welsh Government is determined to improve the life chances of the most vulnerable people in Wales, and I was keen to see how this project is helping young people.

“The project demonstrates how partnerships can increase impact, as set out in our Effective Services for Vulnerable People strategy.”

The scheme received £543,000 of National Lottery funding, which allows independent workers from the Llamau homelessness charity to plan individual packages of care and protection, based on an understanding of the reasons people are reported as missing.

Gwent Missing Children is also supported by Gwent Police, the Aneurin Bevan Health Board, and social services in the five Gwent boroughs.

Project service manager Kerry Wade said: “Missing children are at great risk of physical and sexual abuse. Their lives can spiral into such dangers as alcohol, drugs, crime and exploitation, and the project is identifying them and helping protect them.

“By pooling resources and really getting to know these young people, we have been able to help them get back on track.”

A Tredegar mum-of-four, Sarah Mumford, was put in touch with Gwent Missing Children after her then 15-year-old daughter Shona Knapman went missing.

She said: “It’s been absolutely brilliant.

“It’s nice to know we have somebody to talk to.

“They helped us find out what the reasons why she went missing.

“They supported us as a family as well.”