THE summer holidays are nearly here, and while their arrival will be a blessed relief for some parents, carers and children, for others they will bring a brand new anxiety. 

Because we all have commitments  such as work, appointments or other tasks which require our attention  it’s inevitable that we’ll need to leave our children at home at some point. With that in mind, one of the things we’re asked most frequently by parents is ‘what is the appropriate age to allow children to stay home alone?’. 

The first thing to remember is that every child is different  and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ rule about when young people can be left home alone. Likewise, as children get older they’ll want more freedom and independence, to spend more time out with friends or unsupervised, and that brings new concerns for parents and carers. 

It’s an issue that’s high on the agenda of families and can be a difficult decision to make, so in partnership with Blakemore Retail which runs 269 SPAR stores in England and Wales the NSPCC has developed the Home Or Out Alone campaign. It aims to help reduce the worries many parents and carers feel when trying to make the right decisions about when their child can be left safely at home or allowed out without adult supervision. 

The decision will differ from child to child, but the campaign is designed to offer advice and guidance to help parents make the right decision for their child. The guide, available at, includes signs that suggest whether your child is ready to be independent or old enough, whether they can deal with potential risks. There are checklists on how to help keep children safe when others aren’t around, such as making sure they have a phone number for a parent or carer when home alone, along with advice on leaving children under the supervision of another trusted adult. 

There’s no legal age a child can be left home alone but it is against the law to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk. And a child who doesn’t feel comfortable should not be left alone.  

Extra support to help parents and carers make this decision is also provided in the campaign, which coincides with Blakemore Retail reaching a £4m fundraising milestone for the NSPCC over a 16-year partnership. The money has been used to fund vital NSPCC work to prevent abuse, including the Schools Service, which sees staff and volunteers visit primary schools offering tools to help protect children through the Speak Out Stay Safe programme.

A virtual assembly was created by the children’s charity during the pandemic so that schools could still share the NSPCC’s Speak out Stay safe messages with their pupils. 

* The NSPCC Helpline - 0808 8005000 - offers further support.