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 www.missingpeople.org.uk.

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.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Jo Youle: Resolutions and Revolutions for 2017

This post comes from our CEO Jo Youle.

Matthew D’Ancona implores people to lead and not just follow in 2017, writing in the Guardian. It really caught my imagination whilst sat on the sofa with a Quality Street thinking about my resolutions and revolutions for 2017.

Sometimes it’s finding the ‘what’ when you make a resolution that’s the stumbling block. It’s probably the reason some of us make the same resolution several years running. Get involved. Get fitter. Speak up. Make a difference.   

Perhaps becoming a trustee of a charity that inspires you could be just the thing.
It’s a ticket to the inside of charity heartland: to get involved; to have a say; to be at charity events; to meet people (or animals if that’s your world) who have benefited; to ask the right questions; to give the right steer. To lead and not follow.

It’s a chance to share some of your expertise. And it doesn’t need to be from the charity world. You may have business and commercial experience that might just add the value needed to help a charity thrive in the coming tough years. You may have priceless financial acumen and be able to spot a problem a mile off. You could be the person that asks the critical question no one else thought of.
You may have experience of needing the services of a charity. You might just be the all-important person on the board that ensures decisions made are truly grounded in the mission.

This charity may be the one to inspire you. Thankfully missing isn’t something we all know about. It’s not like cancer which 1 in 2 of us will experience in a lifetime. It’s not like a children’s or animal charity where nearly everyone empathises and no one blames.

But something about Missing People stands out. There round the clock. No judgements made. The right of people to go missing respected. The need to safeguard taken to heart. No cut offs made when people reach the age of 18. No cut offs made when a missing person has been missing for a decade. No end to the search. No end to the support until a missing person is found. A vision to find every missing person. What a great ethos. Society needs this charity. I’m biased, but it’s true.

Let me give you a glimpse into this world. Missing someone you love. Or being out there, missing. It could be you or me in the dark.

Imagine the day. A real day, and real stories shared by Rita, a crisis worker from our front line team. Identifying details have been changed to protect anonymity.

9.15am – a suicidal woman called from Europe. Her child’s missing in the UK and she’s unable to visit again to look for him. We supported her for over an hour.

Just before midday – a message from a missing child who’d been sexually abused, saying: ‘I’m now safe and sound. I feel so free and would never want to be in that situation again. You were my hero when I needed someone. I couldn’t imagine telling anyone else what had happened to me and who was doing it to me. Thank you for listening.’




2.30pm a 15-year-old in Glasgow rang. She’d run away having found being a mum to a 3-month-old and dealing with depression too much to bear. She was scared what would happen to her baby if she went back home. She agreed to a 3-way call to police and they assured her all they were concerned about was her safety.

Shortly after 5pm – we became aware of the abduction of a 9-week-old baby so prepared for a possible Child Rescue Alert and a Royal Mail High Risk Alert. Thankfully, the baby was found safe and well just before we issued the Alerts.

Early evening – we made a support call to a mum in London with a high-risk missing daughter who’d been gone for over 24 hours and had left a suicide note. Mum was grateful to talk about how her beautiful daughter had gone from having a good job into drug addiction. As we were talking, the missing girl came home! She was distressed so we agreed to call back to offer our Aftercare service.




Mid evening – a helpline volunteer took a call from a 16-year-old in Devon who’d got a Textsafe message from us on his mobile. He’d overdosed and was very upset. We gently supported him and thankfully he agreed to us calling an ambulance. We stayed talking to him, ‘holding his hand’ from nearly 200 miles away.

Meanwhile, our local team met a young guy at his foster carer’s house to provide a ‘return home interview’. Missing three times in just one week, he was disconsolate and uncommunicative, but responsive to knowing he is cared about. He agreed to meet us again which is a small triumph.

It’s quite something to be part of Missing People. You could join us just when we start work on the next big plan. We’ve allowed ourselves to think big when times are hard for charities. To dream about potential and possibilities to help more people, when many charities are hunkering down. To double the number of people we help, and double the income to make it happen.

We know it will be hard, but it’s not impossible to achieve this. It’s a time for leading, not following. You could be part of that. A resolution for 2017. Could even be a revolution.

We're looking for new Trustees to join our Board with skills and expertise in finance (Treasurer), strategic marketing and communications, political landscaping and fundraising. To find out more about being a trustee at Missing People or to apply to join our Trustee board, head to www.missingpeople.org.uk/TrusteeJob.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Candle of Hope

Thanks to Valerie Nettles for submitting this blog post. Valerie's son Damien was 16 when he went missing from Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1996. 

Tinsel, bells, glitter, lights, sweet songs of praise, warm  greetings between friends and family reunions, happy excited wide eyed children, anticipation, expectations, traditions, caring and sharing.

These words conjure up the Christmas/holiday ‘moments of joy’ we have grown up with and know and love.  If you have been dealing with great personal loss these old sentimental moments of joy may fall upon dark hollow ground.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Hope springs eternal; words by Kevin Gosden




Last week we held our annual carol service at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. Kevin Gosden, father of missing Andrew Gosden, was one of the people to speak at the service. His moving words are below.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Jo Youle: "How letting down a friend taught me something important"

Missing People CEO recounts a sad experience to learn from.

Sadly, a very close friend’s mum died recently. I was pleased to be able to sort out work and childcare so that I could be at the funeral to support her. I Googled the cemetery address, and also did a ‘belt and braces’ check with my friend via text the week before to make sure I’d found the right place. She replied that it was the only crematorium in town.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Oxford abduction prompts widespread concern

Thanks to Geoff Newiss, CEO, Action Against Abduction for writing this post.



Last week, news of the abduction and rape of a teenage girl in Oxford made national headlines. The 14 year-old, walking to school, was forced into a car on a busy street in the Summertown area of the city. She was raped by two men, and found over three hours later approximately one mile away asking for help. 

Every day there are reports of child abductions by a stranger in the UK. The vast majority are attempted abductions involving a would-be offender trying to lure a child into a car or a secluded area. Some require the victim to physically struggle to get away. Of those cases that do result in a child been taken, most last a matter of minutes rather than hours, and involve inappropriate touching or indecent exposure. This is what makes the abduction in Oxford so concerning; the severity of the sexual assault that the victim and her family will have to struggle to come to terms with. 

Yet the impact of these events is felt across whole communities and, indeed, across the whole country. Parents who have just taken that enormous step to let their children start walking to school on their own face a wall of doubt. If it can happen in upmarket Oxford, surely it can happen anywhere?

Re-assuring parents that such terrible offences are very rare is an unenviable task at times like these. What psychologists call the availability heuristic (the minds ability to quickly grasp at high profile examples as evidence of frequent occurrence) has just been turbo-charged. It will take time for fears to calm and a ‘normal’ sense of risk to return.

However, there is one step that must be taken urgently. And that is to once-and-for-all find an alternative to ‘Stranger Danger’ – an approach to child safety that comes from the 1970s and just doesn’t work. Yes some abductions will be committed by a stranger, but getting children to distinguish between strangers and non-strangers is a futile place to start when trying to teach them how to stay safe. There is plenty of evidence – summarised in our Beyond Stranger Danger report – that children warned to stay away from strangers think that the message only really applies to mean and nasty looking people. And, of course, some of the most recent, tragic and high profile abductions of children in the UK have been committed by people known to them.

Action Against Abduction is in the process of developing a brand new approach. We’re aiming to pilot new teaching resources early in 2017 so that we can make them widely available later next year. More information is available online. Please help us to achieve this by joining our Safe, Not Scared campaign.


Monday, 12 September 2016

Volunteering through work for Missing People

Lisa West is Research & Insight Manager at Primesight, one of the biggest outdoor advertising companies in the UK and a key partner of the charity. She joined the Missing People Communications team for a day's volunteering a few weeks ago to share her skills and insight with the team.

"I had the wonderful opportunity of joining the Missing People marketing team for a day’s volunteering work and through this experience gathered lots of insight into not only how the charity help the families of missing people but also how it offers a fantastic support service for those that go missing. So much of this charity is reliant on volunteers, so it was great to hear that the opportunity for remote work is growing across the organisation. (Especially for those busy in their own full time/part time jobs).

Through my induction, I was exposed to the new approach of conducting return home interviews to help understand the root of the problem of why children go missing. This is massively helping identify cause and effect and as a result ensuring the children are less likely to go missing again moving forward. By integrating solutions of prevention instead of cure, it was great to see the positive impact from this.

At the beginning of my volunteering day, I was able to dedicate time into understanding more about the charity and the recent introduction of the Runaway Helpline, which has had stronger resonance with the younger age group. As a marketer, we have all seen a change in the way we communicate and updated our marketing strategies to adapt to this. As such, it was encouraging to hear there has been a huge increase in the amount of people contacting the charity through text messaging and the ability for them to respond to this quickly and effectively through this channel.

Social media is also a key part of their communications process. Later on in the day, through conducting analysis of their Facebook channel, I was able to help determine what posts have been performing well over the last quarter and ways in which the charity could increase traction with certain demographic profiles. This analysis could then help feed into their social media strategy moving forward.

Overall, I feel privileged to have dedicated my marketing skills to this charity and would certainly recommend others to do the same for such a worthy cause. Whether your skills lie in marketing, sales, customer service or other areas, there is always something we can do to help. Please contact Aimee Castle for more details. (aimee.castle@missingpeople.org.uk)"


Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Returning Missing Adults – the chance to make a difference

This blog was written by our Research Manager Lucy Holmes. If you would like to know more about this work, please contact policyandresearch@missingpeople.org.uk or see our website for more information and statistics.

When a small child goes missing - whether they’ve wandered out of sight in a supermarket or got lost on a crowded beach, or something more sinister - the natural reaction is to panic. When adults go missing, it’s easier to assume that they can take care of themselves, or that they’ve made a choice to go missing. For their loved ones who miss them, however, an adult disappearance can be equally terrifying.



As many as 80% of missing adults are thought to have a mental health problem and, for some, this will be the cause of their disappearance. Others go missing because of dementia, others because of difficult relationships at home, and still more because their personal circumstances make it hard to stay in contact with loved ones.

Most adults return or are found quickly. Not all – tragically a small number of adults die whilst missing – but most come back safe. Missing People believes that what happens to a missing adult when they return is just as important as when they left. Whatever the reason they went, it’s likely that the original problem will return with them, and they may face new problems resulting from their absence. For some returned adults, these problems cause them to go missing repeatedly. One in five missing adult incidents is a repeat incident.

In our Manifesto for Missing People, we are calling for all returning adults to be offered a Return Interview. Once the police have done a ‘safe and well’ check and gathered the information they need, the returning adult should then be offered the chance to talk with an independent person. They should have the chance to talk freely about why they went, what happened while they were gone, how they feel about being found or returning, and what support they will need from then on. Whether it’s a person with dementia who is no longer able to find their way when out alone, or an adult who went missing in mental health crisis, a Return Interview would provide a gateway to enhanced support.

When an adult returns from being missing, those people and organisations who want to help them have a very important opportunity - the opportunity to:
      Reconnect – get them back in contact with people who can help
      Reassure – make sure they know they aren’t in trouble
      Reassess – check whether their support needs have increased
      Re/refer – make sure they are known to appropriate services
      Reduce repeats – resolve the problems that cause them to go missing

Missing People is working hard to ensure that this opportunity is not missed:
1)    We are trialling a brand new Aftercare service in Wales, funded by Big Lottery Wales, which supports returned adults, children and their families.
2)    In partnership with Professor Hester Parr of the Geographies of Missing People research project, we recently organised events in London and Cardiff to bring together professionals who can influence change. You can read about these events, and see a short film about returning, at www.missingpeople.org.uk/returningadultsevent
3)    We have jointly written a briefing paper about returning adults and we will continue to work with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, which hopes to conduct an Inquiry about vulnerable missing adults in the coming months.
4)    We hope to pilot and evaluate Return Interviews for adults in the near future and are currently exploring the idea with potential partners.

Effective support for adults when they return would make sure that every reconnection is safe, that fewer people would need to go missing a second time, and that fewer families face the pain of a missing loved one.