Gina was 14 and had made some new friends over the summer holidays. They were older and very different to her other friends. They made her feel special.
Gina had been arguing with her mum more and more. The arguments escalated and she started staying out later and later. Gina’s mum felt helpless. Gina felt helpless and that her mum didn’t understand her.
One Friday in December, Gina didn’t go to school. Instead, she and her new friends got the train into London. They drank vodka straight out of the bottle, and she finally felt accepted for who she was. When she arrived home, her mum started shouting. Knowing she would be happier with the only people that truly knew her, she stormed out of the front door. She was thinking ‘this time, I won’t come back at all…..’
Here at Missing People, we were notified by the police that Gina had left home and had been reported missing by her mum on Saturday morning. We contacted Gina through our TextSafe service. She told our team that it was getting cold, but she still wouldn’t tell us her location. We continued to text her, even when the response was brief or short.
On Sunday morning, our Family Support team reached out to Gina’s mum. We stayed with her while she spoke through her distress about the last few months and difficulties they had been facing. Our team was able to reassure her we would be there to listen, help and offer practical advice.
It was now the evening and knowing that Gina would be most vulnerable at night, we were glad that she was still in contact with us via text and could let us know she was okay. With 48 hours since being reported missing, Missing People were able to try some other methods to bring her home safely.
Our referrals team sent a briefing out to our partner network. Organisations across the UK, who have safeguarding or community at the heart of what they do, are registered to receive these briefings, and keep an eye out for missing people.
After several hours of consistent texting, Gina confided that she felt her mum was being too overprotective and did not listen to her feelings. Together we explored the reasons behind this, and Gina was able to understand her fears and concerns. They discussed how she could send a message home or make a 3-way call.
Later that evening Gina messaged to say she would like support calling her mum, in the fear that she would angry and start shouting. We were able to help support Gina through this first contact and her mum was not angry. She was relieved that Gina wanted to talk to her and that she was safe. Gina explained to her mum how she felt and why she left; she hadn’t realised how long she had been away and felt embarrassed. Her mum explained why she had gotten angry and that she only wanted Gina to be safe. After talking to her mum, Gina revealed her location so we could pass it on to the police. After that, they were able to pick her up and reunite her with her mum.
Even though Gina returned home safe and well, we are still at the other end of the phone if Gina and her mum need us again. We continue to support them, and Gina is getting help from a counsellor to discuss her missing episode, the reasons for leaving and what we can put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Thank you for following Gina’s story and seeing how we provide vital support to people in crisis.
If you would like to help us continue supporting people like Gina and her mum in their time of need, you can.
There are many others like Gina who feel overwhelmed and feel that leaving home is their only option. By donating £10, you will make sure we are there to answer a call from a vulnerable person in crisis like Gina.