Friday, 25 January 2013

Doors open, candles burn bright

As soon as I was asked to write a small piece on Missing People I jumped at the opportunity and, feeling passionate about a cause I was thinking - Easy!!

Looking at the charity as an outsider a few years back, well it wouldn't have looked simple! I had never heard of Missing People.  I thought I had never met a missing person, or a person who knew a someone who had gone missing. 

I thought I didn’t know why someone would go Missing, or if they had – surely they would show up after a day or two, right?

The situation is different now, and I’ve realised it’s strange how Doors Open and Candles burn Bright - Doors Close and Candles go Out.

On the morning of the 16th Dec 2008 a door opened - and closed.  I was sitting in a small room alongside Sir Richard Branson, I was thinking how am I going to get through the next few minutes talking to Fiona Phillips on the GMTV Day Break sofa about my documentary which was being shown that night.

I was watching the TV and a lady was on before me with a couple of kids and a gentleman talking about her sister who she hadn't seen for over 8 months. My interview went well and went back to the green room - Branson was on his way out shook our hands and said to the lady and gentleman - "I hope you find your Sister".

I stayed back and got talking to them both along with their small children. She explained to me that they were not her kids and that she was helping look after them; that her sister had been Missing for over 8 months and that no one had seen her or heard from her in all that time.

I felt sad for them all, but my adrenalin was going, I was in my own little bubble at the time and never really took much notice. Anyhow, she said she was getting help from the Missing People charity and handed me a business card with the name of Ross Miller - Missing People.
I placed it in my wallet said my goodbyes and got a car to my next interview.
Doors Closed - Candles Out!!

I cleaned my bedside cabinet out, found my old wallet, proceeded to empty it and found Ross Miller’s business card.

I don't know why but this lady came back to me in my mind and the anguish, hurt , pain, confusion, emptiness, the dark void, the rush , the anger , and guilt that I tried to imagine took me to give this Ross guy a ring!

After speaking to Ross I decided to have a meeting with him at Missing People not knowing what to expect, I walked out of there with such a burning light within me and vowed to help The Charity, The Missing, their families and friends in whatever way I could.

As a runaway at the age of 15 years, I didn't know I WAS MISSING - you sometimes don't.
As a teen I returned home after a week and I still don't know what it's like when someone you love goes missing - Only the ones left behind will truly know.

Together with Missing People WE CAN and ALWAYS WILL keep the Door Open and Candles burning bright - ready for the missing to come home.

By Sleep Artist Lee Hadwin
Passionate supporter and fundraiser for the charity Missing People
Please click to read about Lee’s auction, which Lee is using to support the charity and anyone affected by a disappearance

Monday, 14 January 2013

"The other side of the coin"

In 2010 we started the process of creating a website to enable us to publicise the unidentified cases that for us in the UK Missing Persons Bureau represent the other side of the coin. We deal on a weekly basis with cases involving unidentified individuals, and sadly the majority are deceased. Not all of these cases are from the UK, and many are identified relatively quickly thanks to the efforts of those investigating the cases. But others take much longer (some cases date back as far as the 1960s) and we work with the professionals to assist in these challenging cases.

The Bureau’s role is to ensure that all relevant actions have been completed, so that we know that every opportunity to identify who the individual may have been has been explored. We manage the collection of DNA, fingerprints and dental records as these are the most reliable means of identifying people. The last thing we want is to make a mistake, and for a family to be told incorrectly that we have found their loved one, whilst another family waits for news. We also search our database of missing people for cases that may be a match, and ensure the investigating officers are given the relevant details.

We also know that often it is members of the public who provide the breakthrough in these cases. Previously, Missing People publicised some of these cases through their own website, but this service had to be withdrawn to enable them to focus on the vital work they do supporting families and missing people themselves. It was at this time I became determined to ensure this valuable opportunity to resolve cases in the UK wasn’t lost forever.

Our suggestion to set up a website was met by some with trepidation. Colleagues asked if it was perhaps too gruesome to have a website showing images of dead people. Others suggested that families of those missing would find it too distressing. I understand both of these points, but feel passionately that we have to use every opportunity to identify these individuals, so we can close a difficult chapter in the lives of those closest to the deceased. We must also consider that those who knew the person best may not have seen any original publicity. Many of these unidentified individuals may have been travelling, may have gone missing a long way from home or have family and friends who live outside the UK. Without a website like this, how will these families be able to assist us with identifying who they are?

It has taken two long years, but I am really proud to be able to say that last month we succeeded in launching our website. Thanks to the efforts of many in our team, I feel we have produced a site which allows those missing someone to assist us in the search. We have been careful with the images we show, using artist’s impressions and photographs of belongings and tattoos to prompt people’s memories, rather than photographs of the person. However, I do understand that for many it will be difficult to view the details of these cases, and I am grateful to our partners in Missing People for being available to provide support for emotions this may stir up.

We have already had several suggestions about who some of these people may be, and even if we only identify one person as a result of this site, I will feel the hard work to get here has been worth it. Please visit, and see if you might be able to help us resolve a case for a family missing a loved one.

By Louise Vesley,
Police Liaison and Support Officer at the UK Missing Persons Bureau

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.