Getting help from others

When someone you cares about goes missing, often people will want to help you and your family. This may be very close friends and family, people in your community and sometimes well-meaning strangers. There may be things that would be very helpful to you, or you may prefer some privacy and for people to give you some space. It is your choice. Here are some suggestions of things that might be worth thinking about, and things that you can ask other people to do for you.

Practical help

Working out what needs doing and in what order can be hard to work out. Is there someone who is good at planning things and can help you? Would it be better for someone else to talk to the police for you, or get updates for you. You can nominate a spokesperson, or someone to keep in touch with police or the media.

Would it help for someone else to be the one to tell friends and families about what has happened, rather than you telling everyone? We have a page with more information about talking to others if you’d like some guidance on where to start.

Are you planning on posting on social media or putting up posters in your community? Could someone else lead this for you, find the right photo and set up the posts? Would it help if someone else read the comments and answered for you.

Some people want to be in control of these things themselves, for others it is really helpful to be able to take a step back. It can be exhausting and you need to look after yourself first. If you can hand over certain tasks to other people, it may make it less tiring and you may feel you can as a team achieve more.

What about every day things, like cooking, looking after children, cancelling appointments, walking the dog, shopping. Who can help you? Who do you trust and who do you feel can support you during this exceptional times. Check out our page with tips on things to consider, to help you manage and keep going, especially in the early days.

Support for you

Do you have someone who can come to meetings, or who can be at the house if the police are coming around, to support you? It is good to have someone to lean on, someone to put the kettle on and to hold your hand if that is what you want. Some people tell us that it is hard to take in all the information in meetings or phone calls, you can ask the other person to take notes, or ask the questions you are finding it hard to ask.

If you want someone to be with you, when you are feeling upset or want company, ask, often people don’t want to intrude but are happy to be asked.

Are people offering to go out and search, or to help by sharing publicity online? Does that feel helpful? If people are going out to search for you, ask them to let you know exactly when and where they have been, and ask them to keep a record. This information is very important to give to the police.

Working with the media

You may get contact or requests from journalists or local radio who take interest in helping publicise your missing person.  This may feel very helpful. It is up to you what you choose to tell them and what offers you want to take up.  It could be that you nominate another family member or friend to act as spokesperson if you feel you aren’t able.  We have a page about working with the media that might be helpful to read.

Sightings or information

People may want to give you information about when they last saw your missing person.  We know that this can be very difficult for families, on one hand you want to know and then if it doesn’t lead to the person being found, it can be troubling. We encourage you to pass all information you may receive to the police as soon as you can and ask them to follow up.

If you find it hard to hear updates and sighting information, please ask people to tell police directly or tell us and we can pass it on to police.  We would encourage you not to put your personal mobile or landline number on posters or social media posts. It may be hard to deal with people contacting you and telling you information, some people are very well-meaning but may not be helpful.  You can use 116 000 and our website details on your posts for people to pass sightings and information to, which means we can manage these contacts for you and make sure the police deal with all the information.

Private Investigators

Some families choose to work with a Private Investigator to help search for their missing person. There isn’t specific licensing or legislation that covers the work of Private Investigators and therefore there is lots of varied practices, some more legitimate than others. We would encourage you to have an initial consultation and find out costs and what they would do to search so you understand what you would be paying for. You may want to discuss using a private investigator with your police. The Private Investigator should be happy to talk to the police and share information if they find something out.  If they aren’t or they aren’t clear with you what you can expect, be careful.


You may be approached by 
people who feel they have received messages or information that they want to share with you. It is up to you as to whether you choose to speak to these people or receive what they want to tell you. It may bring hope, or it may challenge your beliefs and this is something to consider as to how helpful it might be.  We always encourage clairvoyants to pass on any information to police.


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