National charity Missing People begins a series of events at police forces across Wales today to launch a pilot service that supports returned missing persons and their families.
Missing People has over 20 years’ experience providing emotional and practical support through its helpline, 116 000, to many of the 14,630 people who go missing each year in Wales and their families. The charity is now launching its innovative new “Aftercare” service at the events, beginning with Dyfed Powys Police Headquarters in Carmarthen today. Aftercare is a free service delivered by telephone, SMS and email to support missing people and their families in the months following the missing person’s return.
Funded by a grant from Big Lottery Wales, Aftercare offers non-judgemental, confidential support after a missing episode and the opportunity to discuss the reasons behind a disappearance, aiming to reduce the frequency and duration of future missing episodes. A missing episode is often the first indication of a problem and the Aftercare service will identify the help needed by the formerly missing person whilst supporting families who may be struggling to reconnect.
The service is to be rolled out across Wales with a view to it being established in the rest of the UK, and can be delivered in Welsh through a language line service.
Karen Robinson, Head of Partnerships and Development at Missing People, says “For years, people who go missing and their families have told us that when someone is found a new challenge begins. The charity Missing People has responded to this by developing an Aftercare service, designed to continue our support in to the next difficult weeks and months in the family’s life. We are delighted to have received funding from Big Lottery Wales to fill this gap in service for some of the most vulnerable people in society”
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Cockwell at Dyfed Powys Police says “The Aftercare Service provided by Missing People will provide much needed support to missing persons and their family when they return from home. There are many issues that the family may need to resolve and the ability for police forces to refer a case to this service will provide the family with an opportunity to obtain support and advice from a non-statutory agency, in a safe environment. Tackling the root causes for the missing episode will reduce the risk to the individuals concerned and assist in preventing further missing episodes.”