Monday, 29 September 2014

Missing Blog Post by Kate Brown (names have been changed)

When I think back to those first days and weeks after my partner, Craig, went missing, I wonder how I got through that period. Initially I had to deal with the shock of being told by the authorities that he had disappeared. But within a very short space of time that shock was joined by confusion and stress. Craig and I didn’t live together, and we had no joint finances. But he had no family in the UK, so it was down to me to take action. I began to worry about what to do about his flat and his financial affairs. The short answer was that I couldn’t do a lot.

Within a few days of Craig’s disappearance, I told the police officer with whom I was dealing that I intended to go into his bank to explain the situation. She advised me not even to bother; I wasn’t their customer, so they had no reason to listen to me. She kindly rang them on my behalf, but that was the limit of her power. As the days went by, I found bills mounting up at Craig’s flat. The police suggested that I write to all the authorities and utility companies, simply informing them that Craig was missing. It took me a little while to gather all the relevant information, but I did this, following legal advice, and for a time I felt relieved. But the bills kept arriving at Craig’s flat, and were soon followed by final demands and warnings of legal action. I rang the companies to explain the situation. Some were sympathetic, but said they could not close Craig’s accounts without his authority. Others were far less reasonable; one national company told me that their debt collectors would find Craig.

The situation made me extremely anxious, and I began to dread visiting Craig’s flat. I think he would have been very upset to know how the stress was affecting me. I wanted to safeguard his belongings and do my best for him, but nobody could tell me what was the right thing, the correct thing, to do. I felt overwhelmed.

Eventually Craig’s flat had to be reclaimed by the housing association that owned it. They were sympathetic in their dealings with me, and I managed to put as many of his possessions as I could into storage, either in a lock-up or with friends. I was fortunate to have their help, otherwise I could not possibly have afforded the expense of further storage. Once I returned the key to Craig’s flat, I could no longer keep an eye on the post (and I did not have the authority to have it forwarded), but I know that things would have remained unresolved with the on-going bills. I could not help thinking that I had somehow failed and let Craig down, because it all seemed such a mess.

I received helpful advice from Missing People, and through them I became aware of the campaign to introduce legal guardianship to enable families to manage the affairs of a missing loved one. It would have been a huge help to me to have had guidance on such matters when Craig disappeared, and to have been able to take a clear course of action. When families are already at their lowest ebb, they could certainly do without the extra worry of the gas bill and Council Tax. I very much hope that the Government will introduce guardianship provisions, so that in future families will be spared additional distress and frustration when trying to deal with the financial affairs of a missing person.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.