Thursday, 25 July 2013

Working with vulnerable young people



Children and young people face many challenges, anxieties and uncertainties around who they are, their relationships and what the future holds.  These stresses are amplified if they feel alone, unsupported, or if they experience some kind of trauma or mental health problem  - those that don’t get help may go on to become vulnerable adults.

It is understandable that things can get ‘too much’ and some choose to run away from home or care. They can feel like they have no other way out, but then they may discover they have nowhere else to go, they may be reported missing and find that their issues can travel with them. Unfortunately, others might be forced to leave home.

When offering support, there is a fine line between helping someone and creating dependency. It is important to be there, to listen, to care and to fully explore their thoughts and feelings, so that we can try to understand what they are going through.  We try to give sound advice so that they may be better able to find ways to help themselves cope with their situation. We must also remember it is sometimes not possible to ‘fix’ their problems.

Young people sometimes choose to access our service via text message, as this may feel less daunting if they do not want to reveal too much of themselves. It also gives them the time and space to consider what they would like to say and respond to our messages – they are not put on the spot with any questions. In turn, it gives call takers a chance to reflect on what they are presented with, to manage any safeguarding concerns and ensure we are providing a consistent approach. 

A child under 16 has been contacting us via text for some time. They send multiple messages and usually reply instantly to the messages we send back. They told us they had been thinking about running away because they’re always arguing with their mum. When asked if they felt safe at home they replied ‘yes’,  but went on to say that their mum hits them and has punched them a few times in the past. This is what then led them to running away. 

The child also explained that they felt shy and embarrassed talking to teachers, but that they don’t mind speaking to someone they probably wouldn’t speak to again. 

We explored the situation further, and were able to offer a referral to Social Services. Even though suggestions were not taken up in this instance, decisions are always placed with the caller unless they or someone else is believed to be at serious risk of harm and we continue to offer emotional support and be someone they can talk to in confidence. 

There are many organisations which have different areas of expertise and can offer advice, support and information that is relevant and appropriate to a person’s needs.  We draw on these where we need to, and continue to be there for as long as a person feels they would like our help. Months can sometimes go by between some of our callers re-engaging, but our lines are always open to them, 24 hours, any time they need to call.

By Dana Acharya
Missing People Services Supervisor

Monday, 1 July 2013

All missing children are equal



On International Missing Children’s day on May the 25th, we at the charity profiled and featured 48 missing children as part of our Big Tweet campaign. One child every half an hour for 24 hours.

This is only a percentage of the missing children that we are currently looking for, and a small proportion of the children missing across the UK at any time.  

There are many children and young people across the country that won’t be reported missing, when they are away from home.  Some from neglectful carers, some because people wrongly assume that you have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing and others because the child is missing so frequently that people stop noticing that it is unusual. 

We speak to lots of children on our 116 000 helpline, who tell us that nobody will have reported them missing.  

If you look through the missing children appeals on our website, there will be some that you are more interested in and want to know more about and some you make judgement about and may be less concerned for. 

This inevitably is something that we are challenged with every day at the charity. The fact that the child isn’t British but missing in the UK, or that they don’t look like your child or relative often means that little interest is shown by the media or the public. We know we will always get lots of interest from journalists, and on our social media sites when the child is young, or attractive, or perceived to be  ‘like a child I would know’. 

This natural response to find connection and empathy with situations that we understand or can imagine happening, means that in life there is always people less cared for or worried for.

Our pledge and commitment along with CEOP and the Missing Kids website, is to make sure all missing children are equal, that we do search, we do remember they’re missing and that we continue to care for each and every one when they ask for our help.

By Helen Alves
Services and Family Support Manager for Missing People

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.