Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Tracesmart's Charity Of Choice

It’s been over three years since Tracesmart pledged its resources and financial support to its charity of choice, Missing People. As our arrangement was due to expire, we recently explored whether we wanted to devote another three years to the charity… the unequivocal answer was yes, yes, yes!... and why wouldn’t we? Or perhaps more to the point, why do we do it?

Three years ago, it was purely a dispassionate business decision. Tracesmart were beginning to compete in the larger arenas and we wanted to be seen to put something back into the community and we, like most enterprises, have a corporate social responsibility. The search was on for a voluntary organisation that we could engage with and support, ideally with a correlation with our service or brand. The search did not take long; the charity we found was unlike any other - recently rebranded, we liked what they did; they lacked funding and there were certainly very strong synergies.

Missing People is a lifeline when someone disappears. It provides expert support to ease the heartache and confusion for the families and friends left behind, and helps with the search for missing loved ones.

Our business facilitates the means to trace or verify people; our clients either utilise our on-line self-serve platform or we conduct the searches ourselves on their behalf. Our TraceIQ facility has now become an invaluable resource for Missing People, providing them with an online resource to fulfill their investigative and tracing needs. 

It was and is the perfect match.

Today, it’s three years down the road and we’re now committed for a further three. Staff frequently become involved with the charity through events and practical support. They walk, run, cycle, sing, bake and make coffee to support and raise money for Missing People. Furthermore we make a real difference with the provision of our TraceIQ facility, and our data cleansing delivers the means to develop Missing People’s supporter communications - to significantly boost their donor contributions.

For the future, we aim to increase activity, to become the lead sponsor for Missing People’s Edinburgh to London Cycle Challenge and to be involved with its Child Rescue Alert initiative. There is little doubt our association is built on strong foundations and we will develop and prosper even further, together.

We are set for the long-term and long may it continue.

Penned by Owen Roberts,
Head of Communications at Tracesmart

Meeting Chesney Hawkes

Last Saturday (22nd March) Tom Wicker had the pleasure of meeting and watching Chesney Hawkes at the Civic Centre, St Albans. This fantastic opportunity was enabled by Chesney himself and his manager, who originally donated two tickets along with the opportunity of meeting the star as an auction prize for MissingPeople’s 20th Anniversary Gala last November.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, from Tom’s point of view!) the original winner was unable to attend the concert and re-donated them so that another Chesney fan could benefit from the evening! Here, Tom writes about the experience:

"It’s odd to meet someone you remember watching perform in your childhood – particularly when you've turned into an adult and they don’t appear to have aged a bit. I’d wager that Chesney Hawkes has a Dorian Gray-style painting in an attic somewhere…

"Yes, that’s right, the ‘one and only’ Chesney Hawkes. (See what I did there?) Since its release when I was 11, I've sung his most famous song in the shower, at karaoke and – sometimes, without realising it – out loud in the street while plugged into my iPod. He and his chart-conquering single are as much part of my early Nineties experience as Count Duckula and ThunderCats.

"Two decades later, at an Eighties and Nineties night in St Albans, Chesney is charming, gracious and funny – posing for photos with awe-filled fans who follow him on Twitter and know every inch of his life. His dressing room in the Alban Arena is filled with signed photos and his smile never falters. We talk about his song-writing life in LA and he recommends a few places to visit when I go there next month.

And later that night? When that revving guitar opening kicks in and the sweaty, pop-sock wearing audience erupt in excitement, spilling their drinks everywhere? I'm right there with them, punching the air and singing at the top of my lungs."

Monday, 17 March 2014

Miles for Missing People

By now, we hope that most of our supporters will be aware that our annual 'Miles for Missing People' will be taking place on Saturday 17th May at Clapham Common, London. If you haven't signed up to run (or walk) yet, there is still time to do so! We've asked one of our runners to write about their experiences so far training for this year's 10K run; meet Sue Allan, the mother of our Community Fundraising Officer and Missing People supporter:

 "I always mean to start shopping for Christmas earlier than December and, having signed up to Miles for Missing People, I really meant to start training for the 10K run at the beginning of the year. It's now 17th March, it's 2 months to go before the race and I haven't managed more than 1km every other week so far!"

I got involved in Miles for Missing People, a fundraising event for Missing People, last year as my daughter works for the charity. She persuaded me to take part despite the fact I hadn't run a race since school days 50 odd years ago.

I had a great day, meeting some old friends and lots of new people, I ran 3K (though the photo looks like I was walking!) and I raised nearly £200 (due to my generous if somewhat incredulous friends!).

On the day there were both supporters and people that had been helped by the charity. It was a fantastic event and everyone was so encouraging I decided to sign up to the 10k run this year.
I really will get those trainers out tomorrow and will let you all know how it goes!"

If you would like to join Sue and over 130 other runners at the starting line on 17th May to raise money for our cause, we would love to hear from you. You can also raise awareness for a specific appeal on the day by wearing a missing person's poster on your running vest. There will be 3 races on the day; 10K, 3K and a kids' race, and the event promises to be a fantastic day out with entertainment from the fantastic Rock Choir. Look out for another post to find out how Sue's training is getting on!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Joining The Team

As Missing People’s new Social Media Volunteer, it seems only fitting that I begin my volunteering journey with a blog post. Having just reached the end of Student Volunteering Week 2014, it seems the perfect time for me to explain why I, as a student myself, have chosen to volunteer at the charity.

Walking through the corridors at the Missing People Central Office, striking posters showcase the driving force behind the charity. Images of missing people are accompanied by photographs of their friends and family with text that harrowingly outlines the feelings of loss and confusion experienced in these unimaginable situations. When discussing the problems surrounding runaways, it can be easy to jump to a simplistic solution; to find and reunite the estranged parties. I know this is how I viewed the issue until I had a personal experience with a missing person.

When a close friend of mine took me to one side at the beginning of a day at college to tell me that she had run away from home, I was at a loss. I did my best to help her, offering a place to stay for as long as she needed and advising her to inform the college’s Student Support Office to see whether financial support could be made available to her. Like many runaways, she was unwilling to inform any official services of her situation, and felt embarrassed to ask for help, even from her closest friend.

I was not able to speak confidently to her about the monumental problems she was facing, nor was I in a position to do much more than offer her somewhere to stay and a shoulder to cry on. We spent a difficult evening talking about what had happened, and the likelihood of her returning home seemed very small. This was the first time that I had been made aware of the complexities of cases of runaways. After long and challenging soul-searching, my friend did eventually get in contact with her family. The process was far from easy and made me realise that the act of locating a missing person is only half the challenge, and that the repercussions when somebody goes missing are far wider than I could have imagined.

I wish that, at this time, I had known about Missing People. Had I known that a service was available to me, my friend and her family that was confidential and well-informed, with a helpline where we could talk through the issues the family was having, I would have undoubtedly used it myself, and would have tried to encourage the estranged family to do the same. The Missing People Charity has so much experience and knowledge of the issues surrounding runaways, and where I was completely out of my depth and unable to help with the situation, they would have been able to support us all.

The charity does a fantastic job of appealing to find missing people, increasingly through social media, but to me the incredible thing about Missing People is their understanding of the complex problems that are entwined with runaways. Family breakdowns and misunderstandings, people who chose not to be ‘found’ by their loved ones, the terrible distress caused when worst-case scenarios become a reality and other issues that I will probably never begin to understand are all carefully addressed within the organisation.

Although Home Office statistics estimate that around 250,000 people go missing every year, when you stop to consider how many friends and family are involved with each case, the number of people that are affected by this problem is huge.

So I am thrilled to dedicate some of my time between my A Levels and University at Missing People, helping to raise awareness of the charity itself and the service it provides through the ever-expanding resource of social media. It’s only my third day here, but I can already see what an amazing opportunity I have to make a real impact, develop skills, meet inspiring people and be involved in an incredibly important organisation.

In the spirit of 2014’s Student Volunteering Week that has just ended, I would like to encourage any students (or adults!) who have spare time to get involved in any way they can with this lifeline when someone disappears.

Imagine the difference you could make.

Penned by Alice Attlee,
Missing People Social Media Volunteer

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.