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Case study: Cindy

"Referred for reasons of truancy and absconding," says Cindy's case study. "I more or less missed first year because I kept bagging off," says Cindy with a disarming smile. "And then when I was sent to a foster home I went to the new high school for about five days. Then I just got the bus back to my mum's."

"Nothing is more likely to exercise a Children's Hearing than a young woman absconding," says Colin Beckwith, project manager of Crannog Central, where Cindy is now coming for three half-days a week. "It's a sign and symptom of moral danger, and it propels them towards residential school." Beckwith is concerned there is no distinction made between those that run away FROM and those that run away TO. For somebody like Cindy, running back to her family might have her sent still further away from them. From the young woman's point of view, it must look like a no-win situation.

But Cindy was lucky; she was offered a place at Crannog. "I was told it was my last chance. They would let me stay with my mum if I beaved myself. We came down. Colin told me, my mum and the social worker to look around. I liked it."

Cindy has responded well to Crannog. One of her big problems at school was maths, and there were gaps in her basic numeracy. But, she tells me proudly, the promise of a visit to Dumfries Theatre Royal to see "The Steamie" made her learn her times tables backwards. Now she almost looks forward to her return to mainstream education. "I sometimes wish I was back at school. I get bored when I'm not at Crannog."

Running away is often one symptom among many in the life of a troubled child. "What we're doing is attempting to hold young people before they run away," says Steve McCreadie, Crannog's service manager. "By the creation of a relationship with an adult that they feel able to stick with, there's something to hold them, and if they do run away there's something to come back to. We work to foster the other anchor points in their lives: parents, peers, teachers, work. We have to reduce their exclusion."

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