Missing People is currently working towards putting people with lived experience of missing at the heart of everything we do. Since 2020 we have had an advisory group of family members who have a missing loved one, and over recent months we’ve been working to set up a similar group for people who have themselves been missing.
In April 2023 we were delighted to hold our first meeting of the new Lived Experience Advisory Forum (‘LEAF’), and group for people aged over 16 who have been missing. The group was held online for an hour, and focused on:
As this was our first meeting, one of the first things to decide was what to call the group: after discussing a few different options we decided on the Lived Experience Advisory Forum, or ‘the LEAF’ for short. This was felt to reflect what the aims of the group were, and it also matches some of the imagery already used by the charity, including the memory tree in the Find Every Child garden in Chiswick.
We also needed to agree on ‘ways of working’ for the group. This includes how the group will run practically, and covers important aspects like safeguarding and confidentiality. It also covers expectations for everyone about how we’ll communicate as a group, including showing everyone respect and being constructive and open.
Once that was agreed, we moved on to the group giving their feedback about TextSafe®, which is the message that can be sent to someone when they are reported missing to let them know that Missing People is there for them if they need any support. The group looked at the current language of the messages and gave their feedback about what they thought needed to be changed.
The feedback was really helpful, and members of the group were really open about their views and how they would have liked to receive this type of message when they were missing. The group suggested new wording to be used in the text message.
After the meeting, this wording was sent to the team responsible for TextSafe so that they could make the changes needed to update the wording. After a few tweaks (for example, the character length of the message), the message is being updated based on what was suggested by the LEAF. This means that the 35,000 people who are contacted by Missing People while they are missing will now receive a message which much better reflects what they might want to hear. At the charity we will be reviewing the impact that the new message has, including whether it results in more people directly reaching out to us for support while they are missing.
The next group will be held in the summer of 2023. If you have experience of being missing or away and are interested in joining the group, please either visit this webpage or e-mail Jane Hunter at email@example.com.