|Founder(s)||Mary Asprey OBE and Janet Newman OBE|
|Key people||Patrons: The Duchess of Gloucester, Trevor McDonald, Richard Branson. CEO: Martin Houghton-Brown|
|Area served||UK and worldwide|
|Motto||Missing People provides support for missing children, vulnerable adults and families left in limbo.|
Missing People (previously known as National Missing Persons Helpline) is a national organisation in the United Kingdom that offers assistance to people who run away and go missing. It is a registered charity under English law.
Missing People's mission is to be a lifeline when someone disappears.
That every missing child, adult and their families left behind might find help, hope and a safe way to reconnect.
Missing People provides the following services:
- Support and advice for families left in limbo via a national 24 hour Freefone helpline for people who are missing someone.
- Assistance in the search with publicity posters, web appeals and in the media via a network of media partners who make regular appeals on the charity's behalf.
- Runaway Helpline – a national, free, confidential service, for anyone who has run away from home or care, or been forced to leave home. Whether the young person has run away from home because of an argument, bullying, abuse or they're unhappy.
- Message Home – a 24 hour Freefone service that helps missing adults to reach advice, support and to reconnect with their family or carers via a message or three-way call.
Missing People events
International Missing Children’s Day is one day a year when people remember missing children and their families. The charity mark this day by holding their Big Tweet for Missing Children. For 24 hours the charity harnesses the power of twitter to publicise missing children appeals. The charity tweets a different missing child appeal every 30 minutes for 24 hours and are supported in this by a range of celebrities and organisations. In 2013 The Big Tweet for Missing Children was sponsored by The Sun newspaper and celebrities including Simon Cowell and Stephen Fry endorsed the campaign making it the most successful Big Tweet in the charity’s history. Missing People's Twitter handle is @MissingPeople.
Miles for Missing People is an annual running event held by the charity Missing People. The popular event, includes a 10K, a 3K and a kids run as well as entertainment and family activities, is held on or around the 25th May to mark International Missing Children’s Day. Hundreds of supporters and families of missing people join together to participate in the races and fundraise for the charity raising thousands of pounds for the charity’s work.
The Missing People Cycle Challenge is another of Missing People’s popular challenge events which takes place in June or July each year and involves groups of cyclists cycling from Edinburgh to London over a five day period. The tough challenge is an incredibly rewarding and moving experience for the participants as they support each other through the intense five day experience in order to raise funds to help support the families of Missing People. More information on taking part in the Cycle Challenge or other Missing People challenges can be found at https://www.missingpeople.org.uk/missing-people/fundraising/challenge-events.
Early years (1986–89)
NMPH Following the high profile disappearance of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh from Fulham in July 1986, two sisters Janet Newman and Mary Asprey, became the co-founders of National Missing Persons Helpline. With no news of Suzy's whereabouts media attention moved to the apparent lack of support for missing persons' families, such as Paul and Diane Lamplugh. Mary with her sister, Janet Newman, established the Trust's initial work on missing people.
The helpline (1990–92)
From a bedroom at the sisters' home in East Sheen, south west London, a start-up service was formed in early 1990. The Freefone number, 0500 700 700, remains the same today. Meanwhile the Suzy Lamplugh Trust moved towards issues surrounding personal safety and safety in the workplace. Initially Mary and Janet and a small team of volunteers simply comforted callers to the helpline. However, they soon realised families wanted more than just telephone support. In 1992, having re-mortgaged their houses, Mary and Janet applied to register National Missing Persons Helpline (NMPH) as a charity.
By the time it became a registered charity in April 1993, NMPH needed new offices to provide a complete range of services for relatives, enabling the charity to both find and support. This expansion was greatly helped by founders of the Big Issue, who secured premises in Mortlake. Missing People is still based here today. ITN's Sir Trevor McDonald – later to become a Vice Patron instigated invaluable publicity. Where funding allowed, new staff and volunteers joined and the information taken from each caller regarding a disappearance became more detailed and more accurate. A department offering Publicity was born. The success of the charity was cemented in its first year by an office visit from Diana, Princess of Wales in October.
Getting the Message Home (1994)
In February 1994 the resources of NMPH were stretched to the limit by the horrific discoveries at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester. Calls to the helpline from relatives of missing people trebled and extra volunteers had to be brought in to answer the phones. New callers reported relatives missing for the first time, even though some had vanished ten years ago or even more. Distressed families already in touch with the helpline called again, in case their missing relative might figure in the investigation. The police directed anxious families to NMPH for comfort and support. Gloucestershire Police called too, seeking help on identifying the bodies found at Cromwell Street and elsewhere. Their initial interest was in women reported missing from Worcestershire and Gloucestershire in the 1970s and 1980s. Some 390 names were supplied including Alison Chambers and Carol Cooper who were later identified as victims. At the same time, details mentioned by Frederick West were passed to NMPH for checking against our database. One result of this was the identification of Juanita Mott another of the victims discovered at Cromwell Street. A positive side effect of the charities role in the investigation was the reunion of 110 non-victim families in less than two months. On 27 June 1994 the charity took over the Message Home Helpline from the Mothers' Union, allowing adult missing people to pass a message home. In response to NMPH's growing achievements the charity was honoured that HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO accepted the role of Patron. The Duchess continues to attend performances on our behalf and raise morale of staff and volunteers with regular visits.
In 1996 Mary Asprey and Janet Newman were honoured for their services to charity with OBEs. In 1998 both were honoured with the "UK Women of Europe Award" and in the same year given the European Women of Achievement Humanitarianism Award and The Rotary Foundation's prestigious Paul Harris Fellowships.
Lost from View (2002)
The charity celebrated its 10th birthday. Jointly with the University of York, NMPH produced Lost from View in February 2002. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, for the first time research used the charity's unique database of all types of missing people to provide information and trends about the missing phenomenon.
Pioneering work (2003–2004)
Further accolades followed in 2003 when Mary and Janet were invited by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the contribution of Pioneers to the life of the Nation. 2003 also saw the national roll out of the 'Missing from Care' project for local authorities 'looked after children' in September. This work for young people continued in May 2004 when NMPH launched the Runaway Helpline, as a direct response to a recommendation in the 2002 report by The Social Exclusion Task Force.
Financial problems (2005–2006)
Faced with closure after years of inadequate funding and little input from the private sector, the media announced NMPH was to close. Under the direction of the co-Founders Sir Norman Wakefield was appointed as advisor and formed a consortium of charitable organisations that offered financial support. After an outpouring of public support the Home Office too announced emergency funding for the charity. In September 2005, Paul Tuohy joined the charity as their first Chief Executive. The charity reformed its Board of Trustees and started a considerable process of strategic planning.
New Endings (2007–2008)
In May 2007–2008 the charity relaunched as "Missing People". This reflected the considerable strategic developments that had been made and the fact that the charity now provided a range of services rather than a single helpline. Also in May, less than one week after her disappearance, missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann had become headline news around the globe. On International Missing Children’s Day (26 May) an appeal by the charity was projected onto Marble Arch to highlight Madeleine’s disappearance and the plight of missing children across the UK. In August Missing People launched the first comprehensive online “missing map” in the UK and Missing People TV’ – the first online channel featuring appeals of missing people. In October the charity along with other NGOs from the English Coalition for Runaway Children asked the government to ‘stop missing the missing issue’. This led to the government developing a strategy on the protection of young runaways for the first time ever. In 2007 the charity also teamed up with the police to hold their first joint conference on “missing”. Delegates came from across the globe came to Blackpool to debate and learn about the latest developments. In November 2007 Missing People won two awards for its website – which received more than 40 million hits in its first year. In December the BBC launched ‘Reunited’ – a season of hard hitting programmes about family members seeking to contact missing relatives and the complex reasons people run away.
Finding Missing People and Supporting Families (2008)
In March 2009 hundreds of families of the missing joined together to march through London to highlight the impact of someone going missing on their family, whilst Radiohead supported the charity with the donation of an exclusive one-off remix tape. April saw the first of the award-winning series Missing Live on BBC One. Successes included finding more than 100 people over the four week show. Missing People’s financial position was strengthened by a landmark decision by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to grant the charity £310,000 in June 2008 and by the appointment of five new trustees, which led to a shortlisting at the Third Sector Awards 2009 for most improved Trustee Board. In October 2009 Missing People and Iceland supermarket teamed up to launch milk carton appeals for the missing, following on from the success of a previous initiative with Iceland which had helped to find more than 17 people across millions of cartons. The first new appeal was for Andrew Gosden, a 13-year-old boy last seen at King’s Cross Station. In December 2009 Missing People launched the first report into the experiences of, and impacts on, the families of missing people called ‘Living in Limbo’. Also in December Missing People teamed up with 95.8 Capital FM to launch the Runaway Helpline text service, the first free helpline text service for young people, which was funded by Vodafone Foundation.
116xxx telephone number issued (2009)
In 2009, Ofcom introduced the first harmonised European numbers for harmonised services of social value, allocating 116 000 to the Missing People service. This number is free to call from mobiles and landlines.
Working with the police
Missing People works in partnership with police forces and other agencies across the UK to help find missing children and adults and support their family or carer. Missing people offers publicity opportunities to police forces and at the request of the police Missing People can send a missing person a text message informing them about the charity and the support we can offer. These services are available at no direct cost to police forces, the missing person or their family.
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