Any young person who is away from home or thinking of leaving home can be sure of a confidential, non-judgemental listening ear if they ring the Missing People helpline – we will try to find out what is going wrong for them and how to help them, at least temporarily, and enable them to feel that their anxieties and problems are being taken seriously.
For some young people it is a flash argument, wrong words spoken, or a lashing out in the heat of the moment. For others it may be the other end of the spectrum – abuse, neglect or cruelty.
In any case, and for whatever reason, it is a dramatic move to make, a cry for attention, and it could lead to a young person being vulnerable, at a loss and with few choices to turn to for help. We will pay attention, and listen and evaluate if they call us on 116 000.
Then, using our skills and experience, try at least temporarily, to ensure that our young caller feels valued, and if possible, that they are able to feel safe. It may be a simple matter of passing a message, it may be supporting them to talk in confidence to a social worker, or if necessary, the police.
We will dedicate our time to them for as long as it takes to resolve an immediate situation. And we hope that they won’t need us again, but that if they do, they will know to call us and they will know we will be here twenty four hours a day, to do our best to help.
By Vivian Fowler,
Missing People Services Supervisor