Thursday, 26 November 2015

Reflections on Hope – Missing People Family Forum 26th September 2015




Earlier this autumn we held our Family Forum, which is a time for those affected by missing to come together. We're able to hold this forum each year thanks to funding from Big Lottery Fund and this year the theme was 'hope'. Here are some of the thoughts shared.


Hope is what you live in everyday, it’s all I’ve got. Am unlikely to ever get answer

Hope that Missing People can keep doing what they’re doing
To have a safe space to talk where I can be open and honest about how I feel
Hope that people can be directed to support very quickly as it was a while before we found out about Missing People
Hope changes very quickly especially when a person is over a certain age 
Hope that she’s out of pain, resting, that she didn’t suffer 
If he’s alive, that he’s thriving and hasn’t forgotten us, that he’s being cared for 
Hope that Presumption of Death gives us closure in absence of her 
Hope is transient. In the beginning we were very hopeful that she would be found quickly but as time goes on realising that she won’t have lasted
Can’t let go of hope
Hope is all you have
Hope that police don’t have their budget cut and that they don’t take this away from spending on missing person investigations
Hope that we can be a more caring and joined-up society
Hope that when people are found that they and their families get more support so that they don’t go missing again
Hope for myself, it’s not just my child” 
Hope to keep on having the strength to one day be able to face up to the outcome, whatever that may be
Hope that I’ll build knowledge and strength to not only manage myself but also to help others, help society, other families who have someone missing helps me to cope 
Hope to be able to accept what is happening

Giving up hope can feel like “letting go”? 
Having someone missing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle but the last piece is missing
Hope it’s alive in the daytime, but at night-time fears take over 
Hope can be a driving force, to keep going, to keep the person alive
Hope can change and be different at different times
Hope is a long term thing – more than just a word
Your heart can tell you one thing, and your head another 
You think about the impact on other people in the family – that some people will pass away, never knowing what happened
Hope comes with fear 
It’s difficult when some members of the family don’t want to talk about it anymore
Hope can be a tease, preventing us from really accepting thing
Different family members may not agree about what might have happened and how to deal with things – you have to find your own way…….

Ask your MP to sign Missing People’s early day motion to support families of missing people


 Ann Coffey MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, this week submitted an Early Day Motion (a parliamentary motion MPs can sign to draw attention to particular issues) pushing the government to introduce a new scheme of legal guardianship.

In the UK, 250,000 people go missing each year. Although 98% of missing people return or are located within a week, for the families and friends of those who are not, the trauma and distress can be met by increasing financial, legal and practical difficulties.

When a person is missing, families can struggle to keep their loved one’s affairs in order. Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions will often refuse to discuss issues with anyone other than the specific client - if that client is the missing relative, there is nothing the family can do. Finances can be damaged beyond repair and in the worst cases, homes are at risk of being lost – affecting not only the missing person but their loved ones too.

As part of the Missing Rights campaign, Missing People has been campaigning for a new scheme of legal guardianship that would allow a family member to apply for the right to manage the affairs of their missing relative.

The campaign, supported by MPs, families of missing people and our supporters, led to the Justice Minister Lord Faulks QC announcing proposals to introduce a new power of guardianship. However, to date there has been no timetable for its introduction. Many families have been waiting for this law for years, and the impact of this delay means the emotional trauma they experience is exacerbated by the legal and financial difficulties they face. Missing People is campaigning for a timetable of the scheme’s introduction to be urgently announced.


Please support our campaign for a scheme of legal guardianship by using our online tool to ask your MP to sign EDM 733, calling on the government to urgently commit to a parliamentary timetable on its proposal.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A reflection on the launch of Aftercare



This week we rounded off our series of four launches of Aftercare at police forces across Wales. We were honoured to launch Aftercare to staff at North Wales Police in Wrexham - here are Detective Superintendent Jo Ramessur-Williams' thoughts on the new service.

"People that have run away will often have done so because they have reached a point in their lives where they are no longer able to cope, they need help or at least signposting to help. Finding the missing person is only half the story and it only means that we know where that person physically is. It could be that all we have achieved is to temporarily reduce the risk.

It's important that when the missing person is found, or when they return home, there is a skilled and readily available support mechanism there for them if they need it. The family and friends of the person that is missing will also be going through a challenging time. Worried for their loved one, not knowing what has happened to them or where they are, concerned that something awful may have happened to them. They need support whilst the person is missing but equally importantly, they will need help and support when the missing person returns or they regrettably receive bad news. 

The family may be struggling to understand how to support the person that was away; they might feel guilty for not spotting signs earlier; they may feel angry about what happened. Especially difficult for families are those missing person cases where their loved one is not found for a long time or in some cases never found. These families need long term support sometimes over many years. Perhaps offering legal advice or, in worst case scenarios, helping them at an inquest. 

Missing People have a depth and breadth of experience in this arena and the support infrastructure they are currently setting up in Wales and in particular North Wales is welcomed with open arms


As Head of the Protection of Vulnerable Peoples Unit for North Wales Police I am acutely aware of the impact on individuals and families when loved ones go missing. Some may not even realise or recognise that they need that help. Simply finding a missing person is not a magic wand to fixing what they ran away from in the first place. The original problem is highly likely to still be there, and without help, the person may simply find them self quickly back on the brink again. 

This support mechanism needs to be complimentary to existing processes within organisations, and one that understands the issues, knows how to tap into resources and organisations that can help and which is able to offer advice and help within a confidential environment. Again they need to know that there is support out there for them that will assist them in a non-judgemental way, showing empathy and helping them to pick up the pieces.


As police, we often deal with cases whereby the missing person is found and they are safe and well but they refuse to allow us to tell their families where they are. As adults, they are of course entitled to do this but this can be very difficult for families to understand and cope with. Missing People have the experience and now the mechanism to help guide and support families in these circumstances.

The launch of Aftercare will enhance our already existing partnership with Missing People and I am sincerely delighted that the people of North Wales will be able to benefit from this service – a service which can be accessed by those who need it at a time when they are need it the most.

This type of complementary service already exists for children within North Wales as North Wales Police work in partnership with Barnardo's, who carry out return home interviews for those children who are at most risk.

Aftercare, which is free of charge and is available for adults, young people and family members who have been affected by someone being missing, will strengthen the existing processes we have in North Wales.

Just to be clear about the value that Aftercare will bring, a return interview  - which is what Police will carry out following a missing episode -is a short term arrangement which asks questions regarding the missing episode, focusing on why the individual left, what happened whilst they were away and how they are feeling now they are back.

Aftercare will provide continued support to the issues the individual is facing on their return.This may include the development of a care plan made with the individual to suit the needs of that individual together with  support whilst signposting the individual or family to the correct organization. 

By taking this holistic approach, it is hoped that this will help to pre-empt and prevent further missing episodes and the first steps of their journey to address the issues which caused the individual to go missing in the first instance will have started. I am delighted to be part of the launch and I wholeheartedly support the development of Aftercare in North Wales.

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.