Project information

Extending support for families of missing people

When someone is missing the priority is to find them safely. But the relief at the missing person coming home can soon give way to worries about what happened and whether it will happen again. Our idea is to extend our support to the whole family and to continue supporting them after they return.

The project is ongoing

Charity information: Missing People

Missing People logo
  • Need


    Almost 40% of people who are reported missing have been missing before. Often this is because the reasons the person ran away have not changed, and they may find it difficult to tell anyone what is really happening. Families can find it extremely distressing to be unable to help the person they love and this can affect the whole family. If someone does go missing again they can be at risk and the family may once again find themselves extremely worried and fearing that they have come to harm.


    We will reach more families and extend our support to families in different situations, e.g. parents of children who go missing frequently, who until recently have not been referred to our services because their child is missing for a short time, and families where the missing person is returned person is found but is still vulnerable.

    We will help people to get their own support needs met, to help them offer more effective support and improve communication and communication.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Help more families of children who have been missing and are at risk of going missing again


    » Offer support to parents at the same time we offer support to their returned child. We contact parents of around 60% of the children referred to us.
    » Support families via our helpline. This could include a one-off support call or regular support from a family support worker
    » Train more staff and volunteers to provide family support parents of children who go missing frequently.

    What success will look like

    We will measure the number of families we meet or speak to when providing local support to children, and how many are referred to our central services for further support.

    Aim 2

    Provide support to more families who turn to us for support before and after the missing episode


    » We will work with police to identify families who could benefit from a support call & will also contact families after their relative has been found
    » Train more staff and volunteers to provide support to families when someone has been found.

    What success will look like

    We track how many families are supported and how many are referred to our specialist after missing support services. Families who we help are also asked to take part in a survey.

  • Impact


    Long term benefits are hard to measure but it is known that children & adults who are missing may suffer long term impacts on their heath and wellbeing which can in turn affect family relationships and wellbeing. If the missing person does not return, our experience is that families never fully recover. Our services help families to cope with these difficult situations and achieve more satisfactory resolutions. In our most recent survey 94% of families reported improvements to their wellbeing.


    Risk: Lack of referrals/low take-up. Mitigation (children): we are working in local areas with police who refer children and families to our services. Mitigation (adults): We are working with local services for vulnerable adults to identify people who might be missing or at risk.
    Risk: Higher than expected demand. Demand from families is already growing due to greater awareness and improved processes. We are training more staff and volunteers to support families.


    We publish an annual impact report. People can opt-in to receiving newsletters

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £60,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £50,000 Staff costs Helpline and family support workers
      £5,000 Volunteers training and supervision
      £5,000 admin HR, finance, insurance etc
  • Background


    UK wide


    The main beneficiaries will be families of missing adults and children, children and adults who have been missing, and other members of the family who could be affected (eg siblings)

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Missing People is the only charity in the UK to provide specialist family support to people who are affected by missing. Founded almost 25 years ago we have a wealth of experience in every aspect of this complex issue. All of our helplines are accredited.

    In addition, when families are affected over a long period of time we can offer an extra level of support, eg peer support opportunities, free counselling, family days and an online forum.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Helen Alves

    Head of Central Services. Helen oversees all of our family support work.

    Shane Helmsley

    Shane is our After Missing Support Manager. This a relatively new area of work and Shane has led the way by running a pilot and training other staff

    Karen Robinson

    Karen is Director of Partnerships and Development and is responsible for developing our local services for missing children