10 Downing Street host reception to recognise the people who help when someone disappears

Missing People is delighted to announce attendance at an event at No. 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 21st February to recognise some of the people, work and funders helping to prevent harm to the 170,000 people reported missing each year in the UK.

The event comes as Missing People urges greater awareness and understanding of the links between mental health problems, suicide, exploitation, and people disappearing – often repeatedly – to help prevent disappearances. More than 1,000 people who went missing lost their lives in the UK between 2021 and 2022. This equates to a 40% rise in the number of deaths over five years.

Chief Executive of Missing People, Jo Youle OBE says:

“The cause of people going missing and coming to harm is the silent epidemic of our times. The numbers and impact are vast. People are more aware than ever that our support exists for them. This is made possible, thanks to the growing support of the public, our funders, including People’s Postcode Lottery, and our strong prevention campaigns, made possible by advertisers and the travel industry across the whole of the UK. However, we desperately need others to join that wave of support, as lives depend on it.”

Speakers at the event included Karen Bone, whose son Matthew disappeared from Hampshire in March 2018, aged 26. Matt was reported missing and tragically found dead. Matt left the family home after telling his parents he was going for a walk. Karen says: “Matt came downstairs, took his front door key and walked out. We thought he’d gone to clear his head. He never came back.”

Matt had been an academically gifted child- he had sailed through school, before completing a degree at university, where he swiftly moved on to his doctorate. “He seemed on top of things to begin with,” his mother explains. But there were faint warning signs too, “Matt was struggling with his mental health, his relationships with friends and his studies at university were beginning to suffer.”

Matt’s family were deeply concerned when he hadn’t returned by the evening. After a local search, his parents formally reported him missing to the police. For two years, the Bone family lived in limbo, waiting for any word of Matt’s whereabouts. It wasn’t until June 2020 that his remains were discovered by a farmer in a field, more than 100 miles away.

Representatives at the event included Minister for Safeguarding and Victims, Laura Farris, who said:

“To not know the whereabouts of your missing loved ones brings about unimaginable pain. I want to thank Missing People for continuing to shine a light on this issue for over thirty years. Their continued dedication and unwavering commitment to driving awareness of missing people, and the support they provide to their families, is second to none. As Victims and Safeguarding Minister, I am keenly aware that those who go missing are often the most vulnerable members of our society. This government, in close partnership with the agencies who work directly with vulnerable people, will continue to do all we can to prevent others from going through such unimaginable suffering.”

If you are missing, or have been affected by a disappearance, you can text or call Missing People’s free Helpline on 116 000 or visit https://www.missingpeople.org.uk/get-help

Sign up to be a Digital Search Hero

We have launched a regular email so that you can be aware of new missing person appeals and share them far and wide! We are also calling on all Heroes to be the eyes and ears for Missing People on the ground. Your sighting of a missing person could make a difference in a crucial time.