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Missing People

Charity Overview

Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK, the majority due to mental health and exploitation. When they disappear, people can face new risks like homelessness and abuse. Every family affected is in frightening limbo, waiting desperately for news.

Founded by volunteers following the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh, today Missing People helps people in crisis across the UK and is the only provider dedicated to the cause.

These confidential services provide children and adults with emotional support, ways to stay safe and to reconnect with their loved ones. Missing People support their families however long the journey takes.  

Missing People partners with police forces across the UK, ensuring people reported missing, of all ages, and their loved ones, are given access to the charity’s support services. They help to safely find missing people, through publicity and by sensitively reaching out to the missing person. 

Ten years ago, transformational funding from ICAP Charity Day enabled Missing People to launch a new national free Helpline assigned by Ofcom to ‘protect people in great difficulty’. Thanks to that support, the charity has, to date, been able to support more than 52,000 people in crisis. The Helpline went on to awarded ‘Helpline of the Year’ by the Helplines Partnership.  


Project Summary

In 2020, ICAP Charity Day continued the legacy started for Missing People. That new support built on the partnership, allowing Missing People to revolutionise its digital support to help many more vulnerable people. Missing People’s project, One Safe Click, had a clear aim - that any missing person or loved ones left behind would be ‘one safe click’ from support - anywhere, on any device. 

Missing People is delighted to continue the transformational partnership with ICAP Charity Day. Through the incredible fundraising effort, you are helping children to find away back to safety. Adults facing mental health crisis to have advice and support. Families facing loneliness and despair to meet other people online who understand. Thank you to everyone for your support before and during the pandemic. You are our lifeline.
Jo Youle, Chief Executive, Missing People

The type of help people wanted was changing – people overwhelmingly wanted the ability to use digital devices to access the Helpline, and to interact with others affected online. Phone calls to the Helpline from children had reduced -47% year-on-year (and -39% from adults). The need for change was great. Without digital transformation, more children like Rachel may not reach out for our support.

Rachel was being bullied at school. She was so scared and anxious that she ran away and didn’t know support existed, let alone how to access it. Rachel was found in the woods and had taken her own life. Rachel’s dad told us “If only she had known that support like this was out there, maybe things would be different.” 

Put simply, Missing People needed to be able to reach those in crisis in the digital spaces they felt comfortable seeking support. 

Funding from ICAP Charity Day came at just the right time. The Covid-19 pandemic magnified the uncertainty and mental torment people were feeling. It led to more people classified as ‘high risk’ going missing. Families with a missing loved one were not able to go out and search. Children and young people were locked down inside in unsafe situations. Vulnerable adults were so anxious that more of them left home with suicidal intentions. Our frontline workers were reporting a huge sense of fear, isolation and hopelessness from callers.

Thanks to ICAP Charity Day, Missing People were able to adapt their frontline services, and keep them open, throughout the pandemic. They launched an online Forum, and weekly Virtual Support Group, for families with a missing loved one. Introduced new digital channels for children facing the toughest of times. Switched their essential Helpline to a digital system so expert staff could provide support from their homes. They launched a new website packed with resources so that more people could find the information they needed, fast. And were able to search for children and adults reported missing – spreading the word digitally when traditional methods had to stop. 

Neve (name changed) contacted us during a lockdown; she had to return from university to live with her abusive father. Neve had nowhere else to go and she wanted to go missing. Missing People listened to her experiences, giving her the time and space to feel understood, and explored her options. Neve said she had found the discussion really helpful, that she now had a plan of how to keep safe, and appreciated our support. 

Last year 29,777 people like Neve accessed our new digital resources – increasing their organisational impact exponentially. 

One Safe Click has made a strategic shift in our approach to reaching more people in crisis.