Many people go missing every year and the charity Missing People aims to help as many missing people and their families as possible. With the start of Missing Mums on STV drawing attention to the cause, Jo Youle, the Director of Services of the charity, told The Hour what is being done when this tragedy occurs.
There are an estimated 218,000 missing person’s reports in Britain every year. Some of the main reasons people go missing are relationship breakdown or stress at home. Two thirds of missing people have simply had enough and decided to leave. However, the hurt and pain for loved ones left behind can be much worse when the person that goes missing is a mother.
A lot of the missing people incidences are young people who run away and in adulthood men are more likely to go missing, so it is more unusual for a mother to go missing. Jo has seen first hand the sorrow and confusion losing a mother can cause.
She said: “The heartache associated with that is absolutely terrible for the families left behind.”
Some of the reasons behind it are to do with relationship problems, perhaps an argument with a family member. Domestic abuse can also be a factor in the decision to leave. Sometimes, people can feel down and they just need some space and some time on their own. There can also be no reason behind it, which is sometimes the hardest to understand.
Jo said: “Of course there are cases where people go missing and there is just no reason and the family spends days, months and sadly even years working out why they went.”
When reporting someone missing it can be done soon after they are gone. If it was a child the report would be immediate, but even with adults, if it is unusual for the person to be out of contact or miss their daily routine a report can be filed straight away.
Jo said: “If the behaviour is out of character, if someone is expected to be there and it’s very strange that they aren’t there then contact the police, they are the primary agency.”
“At the Missing People charity we work very closely with the police to then try and help find that person as quickly as possible.” She added
Due to technological advancements it is much easier to trace a missing person through mobile phones, internet or bank accounts, but it is still possible for people to completely disappear. This remains a mystery to the people looking for them like Jo.
She said: “I’ve worked at Missing People for a long time now and there is still the mystery around why somebody chooses to go, and how they manage to stay missing.”
Pat Duncan a much loved mother and grandmother walked out of the family house in 2002 and never returned. She is the focus of one of the episodes of Missing Mums.
The feelings of loss are compounded by guilt for Pat’s daughter as she believes it’s her fault her mother left and is just looking for answers. Jo has seen how the not knowing can take its toll on many families.
She said: “Families say to us that living in limbo is the absolute hardest thing and families will need support, like in the case of Patricia, for many years and thankfully we are able to provide that support round the clock, 24/7.”
The charity resolves about 70% of the cases they work on, they also have a helpline for those who are missing and can’t get back in touch with their family for whatever reason. They would then try and pass a message on to the family for them which quite often leads to a reconciliation.
Jo said: “When we pass on the message it’s a nerve wracking experience, most of the time the reaction from the family is shock, it is very emotional too.”
For more information about missing persons or the work done by Missing People please visit their website.