Around 250,000 people go missing in the UK each year. The Missing Blog aims to give a voice to all those affected by this issue.

Written by families and friends of missing people, supporters working to raise awareness of the cause, and volunteers and staff at the charity Missing People, we hope that this blog will offer a window into the issue of missing.

The charity Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. To find out more about Missing People and ways that you can support the charity visit

Call or txt the charity Missing People for free on 116 000, 24/7 if you or anyone you know is affected by a disappearance.

Friday, 8 July 2016

What does Brexit mean for Missing People?

This post comes from Missing People's Policy Manager Anna Collins.

With the result of the UK referendum now clear after months of campaigning what it means for the future remains uncertain.

The referendum has shown a division amongst the UK’s population about how we’d like to operate in the world. At Missing People we’ve been considering what the ‘leave’ vote means for missing people and their families

Our services
Our services are funded from a range of sources so whilst the economic picture is uncertain, our funding sources are deliberately diverse to ensure we’re not reliant upon one source of income. We’ll be keeping an eye on economic developments to ensure that we can continue to provide a lifeline to missing people and their families day in and day out.

We work in close collaboration with European partners and are a member of Missing Children Europe, the European Federation for Missing Children. The leave vote won’t affect this membership. Our helpline number 116 000 came from an EU directive in 2007 won’t be affected either.

Our policy and campaigns work
With political uncertainty following the leave vote we’re reflecting on our campaigns and prioritising activities where we can have most influence. The Government’s main focus will be dealing with negotiations to withdraw from the European Union and deciding which pieces of legislation to repeal or amend. It’s not certain if there’ll be a general election in the short term. We’ll be monitoring the situation to identify opportunities to champion our campaigns with our parliamentary supporters many of you have helped us to develop relationships with, and with key agencies outside Parliament such as police and local authorities

What happens next?
The Conservatives are currently deciding who their leader and therefore the next Prime Minister will be. It will then be up to them to decide when to trigger article 50, which starts the process for leaving the European Union and for negotiations to take place.

In the meantime, our work will continue to support and campaign for missing people and their families and we’ll still need your help to make that happen.

Missing People produces a quarterly newsletter, Missing News, which collates a comprehensive picture of the latest developments in policy, practice and research relating to missing. To sign up to receive these updates, please email

Monday, 27 June 2016

Being a lifeline during ambiguous loss - "the most distressful of all losses”

This week Radio 4 will be repeating their award-winning drama, "Ambiguous Loss", which looks at the journey of a missing man from the perspective of both himself and his family. At Missing People we use the term "ambiguous loss" in relation to what families and loved ones may experience when their loved one is missing. 

In 2013, we were approached by the writer and producer of the drama at a very early stage of the play’s creation. Michael Butt, the writer, wanted to make sure his work reflected the reality of what happens when somebody goes missing. As part of  his research, he met with our staff and volunteers to find out more about the experiences of people who are missing and their families.

In the drama, the role of a Missing People helpline staff member was played by a member of our team,  Amy. Because the actors were improvising it meant that we could demonstrate how our call-takers work on the phone – listening, remaining calm - not knowing the whole story but gently exploring the situation to support the person.

When the helpline phone rings, or a text message comes through, we don’t know who it is. It could be a child who has been kicked out or run away, it could be an adult who has left home because of crisis they are going through, it could be a parent or carer. People can come to us whilst going through lots of different emotions – panic, fear, anger, guilt, despair, sadness. It’s our job to listen, to create a space where they feel safe and supported to talk through what is going on for them, and then get help for them, or offer advice, if that is what they want. We are here for support, and to help people to be safe.

In "Ambiguous Loss", Missing People takes a message from the missing man to pass onto his wife. Being able to pass such a message is a really effective part of our work – Message Home is core function of our helpline service. A lot of people who are missing will want their families to know they are okay, but won’t feel ready to talk to them directly. By passing the message on we can help both them and their family. If they want, we can help with further steps towards reconnection – such as passing messages back, or even connecting them through a 3-way call. During the 3-way call we stay on the line – to offer support, advice or clarification as needed.

Of course, reconnection - going home - is often just the first step. People may have left for many different reasons, and may still need help and support. They may have changed in the time they have been away, or find it difficult to adjust to being back. Their family may not know how to treat them – wanting to make sure they know they are loved and looked after, but worried they may leave again. If someone has been away for a long time it may feel like they have a stranger sat in their living room.  Because of this, we are currently piloting an Aftercare scheme in Wales. This a service where we can offer ongoing phone support to both the person who has come home and their family – giving them a chance to honestly talk through their fears and frustration, and discuss different services and resources that may be available to help them.

‘Ambiguous Loss’ brilliantly reflects the work our frontline staff and volunteers do for vulnerable people, and how it connects to the work they also do with their families. I want anyone who is away from home, or worried they may have to leave, to use our helpline services by phone, text, or email. We won’t tell you what to do. We know it’s difficult, and we will listen to you – it’s your call.

You can listen to the play "Ambiguous Loss" on BBC Radio 4 this week at 2.15pm on Monday 27th, Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th or you can listen again on the BBC Radio 4 website. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Work experience – Izzy’s blog

Work experience student Izzy spent two days with us in early June getting an insight into life at Missing People. Here she reflects on her time at our head office

For the past two days I have worked at Missing People in London. It has provided an insight into what the charity is, what they do, how they do it and how important their service is. We never think that any of what Missing People help with will affect us and my time here has made me realise that this cause is highly underappreciated because we don’t hear about it as much as we should.

I decided to come and work at Missing People because I am looking to do Arabic and Politics/International Relations at university and subsequently going on to work for either a governmental organisation or NGO that helps those who need it, or as a human rights lawyer. These two days have helped me to see more of the NGO side of things and how you can directly and indirectly help others, whether it is in a small or large way.

During my first day, I had an induction into the general aspects and principles of the charity. This helped me to learn key information about the charity that I did not know before. After this, I was able to help the Corporate Partnerships Officer in conducting research into companies that could be possible partners of the charity. This was interesting because the links between the company and the charities I was asked to look up were very clever and it seemed important that these companies became partners in order to fulfil Missing People’s main goal. This is a form of strategic partnership which I had not heard of before but it seems very useful in order to make strong alliances between companies. Finally, I worked with the Communications Team to help schedule tweets on a programme (Hootsuite) on their Runaway Helpline Twitter page, specifically with regards to stress at school. I enjoyed this task because I was able to directly involve myself in sending out public messages by helping people with the information I know and learnt about combatting stress at school.

On the second day, I was able to help the Communications Manager with a specific part of Missing People that concerns the aftercare that is given to a missing person and/or family when the person returns. This was really interesting because the whole idea of aftercare was not something that I expected Missing People to be involved in and therefore was really happy to be helping with this because I think it is very important. Specifically, I was able to find addresses for all the places in Wales (where the Aftercare aspect of Missing People is taking place) where they wanted to send materials that they needed to help with that scheme. I also drafted a letter that would be sent to these addresses along with the materials. During the afternoon, I was introduced to the data base (Raiser’s Edge) that the Fundraising and Communications team use to log all of their corporate or personal partnerships with people that have donated, set up an event or even shown interest in Missing People. This was interesting because it was not something I had come across before and it seems like a really sensible way to keep track of what has happened. I need to start using it to keep up with all the work I am set at school!

Overall, I have found my time at Missing People really valuable because of the skills it has taught me that are vital when someone is working for a charity, like the specific programmes to use and how goals can be achieved. The tasks I was set were interesting and relevant but most of all the people here are lovely. Everybody was welcoming and helped me and it has given me a thoughtful insight into what it would be like to work for a charity and what it requires.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Volunteer profile: Holly

This blog post was written by Holly Christie, Archivist Volunteer at Missing People

This week is my one-year anniversary as a volunteer at Missing People, it’s been a fantastic year and I feel that I have achieved so much and made an impact, even in my small way.
Last April I signed up to become a volunteer Archivist for Missing People. My day job doesn’t really have many clean cut starts and ends, work is always ongoing. I liked the idea of volunteering my time on something that is completely different to what I do every day. Archiving gives me a sense of satisfaction when after my four hour shift I have a pile of cases that have been completed and I can now shred. Job done!

What does an Archivist Volunteer do?
Missing People have thousands of missing people cases still on paper files that need to be checked, summarised and logged onto their electronic database. They’re about 25% of the way through the case load, but they always need more Archivists to help complete this enormous task.

My role is to check the work of the Junior Archivists, categorise the files and then the delightful task of shredding them at the end of my shift.
“Ergh dull” you might think, but there is something immensely satisfying seeing a pile of 30 cases at the end of your four-hour shift that can now be shredded.
I know that at the end of my shift that the chances are I’m the last person to see that case and know about that missing person, puts your life into perspective.

My year
I recently received my Pink Star Award from Missing People for volunteer over 100 hours for Missing People. On average I do 30 cases in a four-hour shift, I’ve now archived around 787 cases already this year!
I’m looking forward to another year of volunteer with Missing People, spending my Wednesday evenings with their amazing volunteers and friendly staff.

I would recommend you do too!

Find out more about volunteering at Missing People here 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Henry’s Heroes: Barbara Robinson

This content first appeared on RH Uncovered and is reproduced with permission

This month, our MP Henry Smith has nominated Crawley resident (and hardworking volunteer) Barbara Robinson to be his latest community hero.

Sixty-nine year old Barbara, who is a retired teacher, has spent many years giving her time to help local organisations such as Crawley’s Citizens Advice Bureau, Missing People, Crawley Town FC and even being a foster mum for Canine Partners, making her one of Crawley’s most active volunteers.

“In my working life as a teacher, I was always having to problem solve and be empathetic towards my students. When I retired I wanted to continue to use my brain, problem solve and be proactive and the roles I fulfil now enable me to do that,” Barbara explains.

She now advises those in need of help and support at the town’s busy Citizens Advice Bureau, helps to find missing people and promote the charity (of the same name) across Surrey and Sussex, takes in and cares for dogs who are currently in training with Canine Partners to help those with disabilities, and most recently; played a pivotal role in creating the Crawley Town Disabled Supporters’ Association.

It’s volunteering for the association that Barbara has especially shone and improved the match day experience for many Crawley Town fans, with sight problems, thanks to the introduction of audio description at the stadium.

“I’m very proud to have been instrumental in getting audio description at the football club for those with sight problems up and running,” she says. “As a result five fans who had given up on enjoying a match because they couldn’t follow the action now thoroughly enjoy the games!”

So, what does this community hero enjoy so much about volunteering?

“I meet a variety of people in the various roles I do – I get a buzz out of being able to make a difference to someone,” she told us.

Henry says: “I am delighted to nominate Barbara for her continuing dedicated work for our community.”

“She has worked tirelessly for Missing People, working to help those who have suffered the trauma of not knowing the whereabouts of a friend or loved one. Barbara has also sought to encourage others to help by representing the organisation at a volunteering showcase.”

“Her work in setting up the Crawley Town Disabled Supporters Association has ensured that fans with sight problems can enjoy the full match day experience thanks to the audio description service now run at Crawley Town.”

“Barbara’s work, which also includes helping at the Citizens Advice Bureau and Canine Partners, helps people across Crawley and further afield – I would like to thank her for her service.”

Monday, 8 February 2016

NCVO A Day in the Life

This blog post was written by Lucy Holmes, Research Manager at Missing People

The NCVO A Day in the Life work-shadowing scheme enables civil servants and staff from the charity sector to spend a day with one another. My aim in taking part was to learn about how the Home Office works – its structures, teams, hierarchies, roles, priorities, culture and staff.

In December, my partner came to spend a day with us here at Missing People. She came with a host of questions about what it’s like to work for a charity, as well as wanting to learn all about our services and the people we work with. I arranged for her to spend time with colleagues who work on the helpline, as well as colleagues who deal with the media, policy campaigning, partnerships and development, and information and evaluation. After visiting us for the day, my Day in the Life buddy returned to the Home Office and gave a presentation to her colleagues about her day with us. She also shared her thoughts with me:

“I greatly enjoyed what was a very informative and interesting visit at Missing People. The passion, dedication and commitment to the issue of missing people were obvious in everyone I met. It was fascinating to learn of all the added work Missing People is doing around the issue – understanding the reasons, prevention of harm, and what happens after a person returns, for example. The work the charity is doing is really great, and I was privileged to be able to catch a glimpse of it.”

Yesterday came my turn to step into my partner’s shoes for the day. After an unfamiliar commute into central London I joined the queue to get through security, showed my ID and was issued with a visitor pass. My partner came down to collect me and showed me up to her unit.

The first thing to hit me was the sheer scale of the building. It’s imposing, yes, but not intimidating. I liked that there are lots of places for people to sit on comfortable chairs – with a laptop, with a coffee – and get on with some work or an informal meeting. Being tied to a desk and screen all day isn’t necessarily the best way to get work done.

My partner explained the project she’s currently working on, and showed me the complexity of her work. One thing she’s working on is a clause-by-clause commentary of a new piece of legislation. It’s detailed and difficult work, but so important to make sure that new laws are understandable to lay people – not just lawyers!

I spent most of the day meeting key people in her work group, which me an overview of the work they do. I was struck by how committed everyone was. Some of them work in policy areas that are deeply harrowing, but they all expressed their desire to do a good job and to make a difference.

Here at Missing People we have a relatively small team (compared to many charities, let alone the civil service!) and that means that each of us can see the impact we make. In the Home Office, each member of staff is a cog in a massive machine, but the people I met all know that their contribution is essential. I was struck by how adaptable they all are – their roles and tasks can change regularly and they have to be ready to hit the ground running.

Spending a day in another sector has made me hugely grateful for the things I value about working here. We’re passionate, nimble and energetic and we have a very positive culture of supporting one another. I feel privileged to work in a role that allows me to hear directly from the people we work with – from family members with a missing relative, from young people and adults in crisis, and from police officers working to find missing people. I am also very grateful for my short cycle commute, much nicer than the tube!

I would highly recommend others in either the charity sector or civil service give this scheme a try. I learned a lot that will help me in my role, and felt I got a true insight into the day to day working life of government.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Keeping missing people safe

This blog post has been written by Susannah Drury, Director of Policy, Research and Development at Missing People. 

Paige Chivers was 15 when her mum died. Paige struggled to cope with her grief, on top of her troubled home life.  Excluded from school, and without the right professional support, Paige started to go missing regularly.  Following an argument with her dad about money, she went missing for the last time. Tragically, she would never return.  Paige had run away to be with a man in his 50s who has been accused of sexually exploiting her and who went on to murder her.

Paige’s story is heart-breaking. It’s heart-breaking because she wasn’t getting  the help she needed to stop going missing and get her life back on track. It’s heart-breaking because Paige felt she had nowhere to turn to except for the man who went on to kill her. It’s heart-breaking because it could happen to another vulnerable child.

There’s a huge number of reasons why a person might go missing, but what links them all is their vulnerability. Whether it’s a scared 13 year old boy going missing because he’s being controlled by a gang who use him to transport drugs; or a middle aged man in mental health crisis disappearing because he feels he has no other options; or a woman fleeing domestic violence. Recent data from the National Crime Agency  shows that shockingly, at least 35 missing people a day come to harm, and tragically, over a thousand people die while missing each year.

It’s the responsibility of all of us to keep these vulnerable children and adults safe. We need to do more to find them and get them the help they need. We must also do more to prevent people going missing in the first place.

Police across the country play a vital and difficult role in finding missing people and making them safe. The police are the right people to do this job. Police officers have the skills and powers needed to search, they are able to draw links between a range of information and intelligence and they have a clear duty to protect vulnerable people. 

As HMIC’s recent report into policing vulnerable people states: “The primary purpose of the police is to prevent crime and disorder and to protect people…The extent to which a police force is successful at identifying, protecting and supporting those who are vulnerable is therefore a core indicator of its overall effectiveness.” 

HMIC’s report found that some forces are doing better than others in protecting vulnerable missing children – and that many forces should improve their risk assessment processes, and how they gather and share information. These improvements must be a priority if we are going to prevent vulnerable people coming to serious harm. 

It’s clear though that the police can’t do the job alone. As the number of missing person reports increases (to 315,0000 nationally in 2014/15, compared to 307,000 in 2013/14), Chief Constables across the country are starting to highlight the pressures they face in responding – especially when people go missing repeatedly. These Chief Constables agree that it is vital to find and protect these vulnerable people, but are calling on other agencies to do more.

The charity Missing People works with every police force to publicise missing people, and get the public to join the search. Last year, we worked with the police to launch over 1,000 publicity appeals, with the vast majority of those people found safe. On the police’s request, we also reach out by text message directly to thousands of vulnerable missing people each year to tell them about our free, confidential helpline 116 000, and we know many of them do go on to call us and get the help they need. With additional resources, the charity could do even more to help find missing people and make them safe. 

Gwent in Wales has developed a brilliant approach to responding to missing children, involving all the agencies who have a support and safeguarding role. They have set up a Missing Children’s Hub where the police, social services, health services, education and local support charities work together. The Hub receives every missing report, the multi-agency team pool their information about the missing person and decide together on the best response to finding them and how to support them when they return. Their results are impressive- they have managed to reduce the number of children who go missing repeatedly, and have also uncovered a significant number of children who are at risk of sexual exploitation and need protection. This multi-agency approach where agencies work together with clear, complementary roles is an important way of ensuring missing children and adults stay safe and get the right support. 

When someone comes back from being missing, it’s not the end of the story. They need help to tackle whatever problems caused them to go missing in the first place, and to deal with any trauma they faced while missing. If these problems aren’t resolved, they may go missing again. That’s why Missing People provides return home interviews and follow-up support to help people break the cycle of going missing. Recent research into return home interviews and support provided by Missing People and other charities found that for every £1 invested, £5 of social value is returned – as these services reduce risk, increase safety and improve young people’s future prospects. However, availability of return home interviews for children across the country is patchy, and for adults is almost non-existent. This must change – which is why Missing People is campaigning for every child and adult to be offered an independent return home interview.

We need to do much more to prevent people going missing. Worryingly, only one in 20 missing children ask for help from professionals while they are missing. If we are going to prevent more tragedies, like the murder of Paige Chivers, we need young people to know how to reach out to stay safe. This is why Missing People has recently launched a new Runaway Helpline website, full of information and advice for young people who are thinking about running away, or who are missing.

There’s so much we can do – and we must do - to protect vulnerable missing people. We need to educate children about the risks of being missing and how they can get help before they reach crisis point. We need to bring different agencies' skills together to find missing people and make them safe. We need to make sure anyone who comes back from missing gets the help they need to deal with their problems and prevent them going missing again. We need to do everything we can to prevent vulnerable children and adults being harmed or killed while missing.