Charity Missing People has launched a new campaign appeal for information on missing loved ones: through the now very familiar visual of a Zoom conference call.
While households are forced into lockdown and separated from family and friends due to the pandemic, many have been able to keep in touch thanks to the mass adoption of video conferencing online.
For some families, however, the current situation is even more agonising if their loved one is one of the 186,000 children and adults that go missing in the UK every year. In April, Missing People saw a 54 per cent increase in vulnerable missing children and young people seeking support via Live Chat, while the initial weeks of self-isolation saw a 22 per cent increase in requests to the charity to publicise a missing person.
The Missing People Zoom Call image may look like a typical catch-up meeting between friends or colleagues, yet everyone featured in the image is registered as missing. The public can help raise awareness by downloading the wallpaper for their own zoom meetings on the website: www.missingpeople.org.uk/conferencecall
Images have been provided with the permission of family members in the hope that someone, somewhere may recognise a face or have information on that person’s whereabouts. Since lockdown, standard ways to publicise a missing person have been hampered, so the charity is turning to social media and new initiatives like this to drive public to its website.
Those featured include Matthew Bone, aged 26 at the time of disappearance last seen in Callow End, Worcestershire on March 9, 2018 and Georgina Gharsallah, aged 30 at the time of disappearance who went missing from Worthing, Sussex in March 7, 2018.
Missing People hopes that over the course of the coming weeks and months some of those currently on the Missing Zoom Call image can be found safely and ‘leave the meeting’ to connect with their loved ones through the charity.
The charity will replace anyone found with a different missing person.
Karen Bone, mother of missing Matthew Bone said:
I support this initiative to raise awareness of Matt and the many people who go missing in the UK each year. The public can help widen the search by downloading the wallpaper, sharing missing appeals on social media and donating to the charity’s Covid-19 appeal.
The charity reports that the current situation is exacerbating young people’s existing worries and problems, leading many more to think about leaving home.
Chief Executive of Missing People, Jo Youle said:
Children and young people are telling us that the impact of the pandemic and lockdown is having a detrimental impact on their mental health and making them think about going missing.
The charity is proud that through great adversity our essential 24/7 support remains open for these young people. However, without urgent support that long-term support is in doubt. We have had to reduce our income predictions by £500k – and for a smaller national charity that means many children may not get support they so desperately need.
Members of the public can donate to the charity’s appeal here.
The charity’s helpline is operated by staff and volunteers. It is free to contact and open 24 hours a day thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Sightings and information about any missing person can also be given anonymously through the Missing People website at www.missingpeople.org.uk/sightings .
Image: Missing People
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