Friday, 7 June 2019

Being a Case Study Writer Volunteer #VolunteersWeek

Paloma tells us about how she became a Case Study Writer Volunteer and how she’s able to gain skills in an area she’s passionate about alongside supporting a charity that’s cause affects people on a national level.

After a few online and face-to-face training sessions, I was able to have my first day as a volunteer case study writer in February. I usually dedicate my Mondays to volunteering with Missing People (MP). So what does a typical shift look like for me?

My usual hours are 11am-5pm. As I am only in the office once a week, I usually meet a new face or two, which is always exciting. Once I reach a free desk, first things first I flip through a record of the cases that are either ongoing or ones that have reached a final outcome. The biggest decision is deciding what to concentrate on. Will it be the challenges these people have faced and overcome? Or how the organization (MP) has helped them overcome those challenges? Or both.

 I tend to choose the cases that happened over a longer period of time. This is so I can learn and understand why a particular person became a runaway or indirectly witness the lead up to a disappearance. I find the research experience eye-opening and heart-wrenching at times. I would say the researching and planning can take quite a bit of time before feeling confident enough to write the first draft. For the past few case studies, I have written I have followed a particular template provided to me, which doesn’t render the emotion, and context that goes into it.

Occasionally, I will be able to join in on a handover meeting between the Helpline Service teams, which consists of an update of who has called in that night/day. After my first draft, I ask for a fresh set of eyes from Ian, the Publicity Coordinator, who has a proofread whilst I offer some assistance to the other teams at Missing People; events and marketing. Eventually, after a few edits of the case study, (as I seem to unintentionally use an abundance of pronouns), I am able to submit it to go on record. Then start the process again with a new case.

I originally saw this opportunity on and it piqued my interest. I thought this to be a good opportunity for me to develop as a writer as I am wishing to pursue a career in journalism. I personally write poetry, two blogs and have taken other journalism-like work experience. Even though developing my writing experience was an original reason, the issue of missing effects a range of people across the nation. First and fore-mostly, it is happening at home, and I believed it to be a cause that I could at least offer support to.

Volunteering here I have learned a few major things in regard to the issue of missing such as the cycle of ambiguous loss, which in other terms is unresolved grief. I cannot even begin to imagine how painful, confusing and life-consuming that can be for someone. I do try to place myself in their shoes when I write the cases in order to write my piece in a heartfelt and empathic manner. Secondly, until you are in the environment you don’t realise how often and daily people go missing, nor do you really understand their reasons behind it. Volunteering at Missing People has been very insightful; you digest every part and connect it to the bigger picture. You are faced with problems on a daily basis that requires you to adjust to life outside of your comfort zone. Thirdly, how silenced the missing really do feel. Upon my time at MP, I have discovered that the Helpline Services has been in multiple cases, the first to know about a situation. Which can be both an amazing breakthrough for someone but also an upsetting prospect.

Bringing this to a close, I believe volunteers are valuable at Missing People because as individuals we all have talents we can offer. Secondly, as a collective, it develops teamwork; leadership, problem-solving and people skills, which are always the soft skills future employers, look for. You are welcomed into a new and nonjudgmental community; one where you all share the same goal and morals—and what’s better than that?

Do you want learn or develop new skills in a particular area? Our volunteers have a variety of different skills and experience so if you’d like the opportunity to not only strengthen these skills but also to learn brand new skills, we could have a volunteer role for you! Take a look at the roles available on our website.

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Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. 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 text the charity Missing People for free on 116 000, 24/7 if you or anyone you know is affected by a disappearance.