Our Hertfordshire support team provide support to very vulnerable young people who have gone missing. Nico* is just one of the young people we have supported. Read his story below.
*TW: Suicidal thoughts*
Nico was just a child when he started to have missing episodes.
He suffers with his mental health and is diagnosed with ADHD and learning difficulties. He found it difficult to really develop relationships at school, or manage stressful situations. Despite his best efforts, children at school bullied him and he constantly had arguments with his mum and dad.
Nico was having suicidal thoughts and started to self-harm.
Following arguments and stressful situations, Nico struggled to control his emotions. So he started to run away. Soon, he was regularly going missing from home and school. That’s when a member of the intensive support team, Grace*, reached out to Nico.
Grace and Nico set up confidential 1-2-1 support sessions. Members of our Hertfordshire team can meet with young people multiple times a week, and they focus on reducing missing episodes and the associated risks for young people. Together, Grace and Nico discussed the reasons behind Nico’s missing episodes, so that they could work on reducing the root causes.
During this support, Grace arranged for a police liaison officer to work with Nico, to help reinstall Nico’s trust in the police. In addition, Grace organised a mentor within Nico’s school that he felt like he could and would work with. He helped Nico with both school and emotional support, and worked on strategies to reduce how often Nico went missing from school.
Through working with Grace, Nico also identified his need to take medication. They built a plan for going forwards with medication, and worked on a safety plan for Nico. This included identifying people and places that he trusted that he could go to if he felt overwhelmed and needed to feel safe.
Our team has an impressive track record of building up trust with the young people, and Nico felt listen to by Grace. He felt like his feelings were really acknowledged. With Nico’s permission, Grace passed on their safety plan to partner agencies including social workers, so that Nico could be supported long-term.
Nico’s missing episodes had soon reduced to zero. Nico was engaging well with his social worker, and had a telephone number for the Police that he could call to help lessen any crises.
The school mentor that Grace set up was proactively supporting Nico emotionally, and exploring his needs for dyslexia support. School was a much more positive place for Nico – a place where he felt safe. In addition, home life was also improving. With regular meetings set up between Nico’s parents and the social worker, family dynamics were definitely getting better, and Nico had developed a sense of belonging at home.
As Nico’s missing episodes had reduced to zero and Grace felt that Nico had some really positive key professionals around him, Grace and Nico were ready to finish their sessions.
Nico thanked Grace for really listening to him – “I feel confident to make positive changes in my life. I look forward to the future now.” Nico feels valued and more confident now he is really being listen to by professionals.
* Names and details changed to protect individuals’ privacy.
The team offers Return Home Interviews within 72 hours of a young person returning from a missing episode. These sessions allow young people to talk about why they went missing. They can discuss what happened during their missing episode, and discuss what needs to be done to prevent future episodes.Find Out More About Return Home Interviews
The team also offers intensive 1-2-1 support to children who frequently go missing or are at most risk while away. Nico is just one of the young people our team has supported through intensive 1-2-1 sessions. Our team does a fantastic job at getting through to young people:
Find Out More About Our Intensive 1-2-1 Support Service
“My Missing People support worker was kind and calm and really got through to me, which most people don’t.”
– Young person on intensive support
It is all thanks to all players of People’s Postcode Lottery that we can continue our mission to #FindEveryChild, and can remain a lifeline to missing people and their families left behind. This Find Every Child week is held with thanks to all players for their continued support for the past 13 years.