The family of Dorset teenager Gaia Pope have released a guide with the aim of supporting other families who are facing the trauma of having a loved one go missing.
Gaia’s Guide: a Community Organising Guide to Help Keep Missing People Safe, was written by Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Gaia’s cousin, following the families own experience of searching for Gaia. Gaia’s body was found on a coastal path near her hometown of Swanage in Dorset three years ago to the day.
“When Gaia went missing I didn’t know what to do, none of us knew what to do. We knew with public backing and attention the police would have to do something. If it wasn’t for the volunteers I think we’d still be searching. We want to offer the guide so families know what to do. When someone you love disappears it’s hard to even think straight. Hopefully Gaia’s Guide will help.”
– Maya Pope-Sutherland, Gaia’s twin sister
After her disappearance on 7 November 2017 Gaia’s story made national headlines with hundreds of volunteers joining the search and thousands taking action online, thanks to community organising efforts led by friends and family. Gaia’s Guide provides step-by-step guidance to support community response when someone goes missing, covering everything from how to search search to engaging with the press and police.
“Gaia’s Guide has been a labour of love for her. Though in cases like Gaia’s community action can be the difference between life and death, shockingly there are no national police procedures informing families what they can expect. That needs to change. Meanwhile, going back over what happened hasn’t been easy but it’s worth it if Gaia’s Guide can help other families through that nightmare and bring even one missing person to safety.”
– Marienna, Gaia’s
“It’s heart warming to see something good come from such a tragic event. There is something very powerful about family members using their own experiences to help and support others. We’re pleased to include this brilliant resource on our website. Gaia’s family should feel proud of this great work; it’s a wonderful way to honour her memory.”
– Remi Arnold, Family Support Manager at Missing People