Missing People

Missing People
Missing People
Missing People Chairty Logo.jpg
Founder(s) Mary Asprey OBE and Janet Newman OBE
Type Charity
Founded April 1993
Location London
Key people Patrons: The Duchess of Gloucester, Trevor McDonald, Richard Branson. CEO: Martin Houghton-Brown[1]
Area served UK and worldwide
Volunteers 140
Employees 39
Motto Missing People provides support for missing children, vulnerable adults and families left in limbo.
Website www.missingpeople.org.uk

Missing People (previously known as National Missing Persons Helpline) is a British charity that offers a lifeline[clarification needed] for the 250,000 people who run away and go missing each year.



To advise and support people affected by "missing" and to facilitate a reduction in the number of missing people.


A society that recognises the impact of missing on individuals, families and communities and that co-ordinates its services and resources to support and empower those affected and those working in the arena.


Missing People provides the following services:[2]

  • support and advice for families left in limbo via a national 24 hour Freefone helpline for people who are missing someone.
  • assistance in the search with publicity posters, web appeals and in the media via a network of media partners who make regular appeals on the charity's behalf.
  • Runaway Helpline - a national, free, confidential service, for anyone who has run away from home or care, or been forced to leave home. Whether the young person has run away from home because of an argument, bullying, abuse or they're unhappy.
  • Message Home - a 24 hour Freefone service that helps missing adults to reach advice, support and to reconnect with their family or carers via a message or three-way call.


Early years (1986–89)

NMPH Following the high profile disappearance of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh from Fulham in July 1986,[3] two sisters Janet Newman and Mary Asprey, became the co-founders of National Missing Persons Helpline. With no news of Suzy's whereabouts media attention moved to the apparent lack of support for missing persons' families, such as Paul and Diane Lamplugh. Mary with her sister, Janet Newman, established the Trust's initial work on missing people.

The helpline (1990–92)

From a bedroom at the sisters' home in East Sheen, south west London, a start-up service was formed in early 1990. The Freefone number, 0500 700 700, remains the same today. Meanwhile the Suzy Lamplugh Trust moved towards issues surrounding personal safety and safety in the workplace.[4] Initially Mary and Janet and a small team of volunteers simply comforted callers to the helpline. However, they soon realised families wanted more than just telephone support. In 1992, having re-mortgaged their houses, Mary and Janet applied to register National Missing Persons Helpline (NMPH) as a charity.

Expansion (1993)

By the time it became a registered charity in April 1993, NMPH needed new offices to provide a complete range of services for relatives, enabling the charity to both find and support. This expansion was greatly helped by founders of the Big Issue, who secured premises in Mortlake. Missing People is still based here today. ITN's Sir Trevor McDonald - later to become a Vice Patron instigated invaluable publicity. Where funding allowed, new staff and volunteers joined and the information taken from each caller regarding a disappearance became more detailed and more accurate. A department offering Publicity was born. The success of the charity was cemented in its first year by an office visit from Diana, Princess of Wales in October.

Getting the Message Home (1994)

In February 1994 the resources of NMPH were stretched to the limit by the horrific discoveries at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester. Calls to the helpline from relatives of missing people trebled and extra volunteers had to be brought in to answer the phones. New callers reported relatives missing for the first time, even though some had vanished ten years ago or even more.[5] Distressed families already in touch with the helpline called again, in case their missing relative might figure in the investigation. The police directed anxious families to NMPH for comfort and support. Gloucestershire Police called too, seeking help on identifying the bodies found at Cromwell Street and elsewhere. Their initial interest was in women reported missing from Worcestershire and Gloucestershire in the 1970s and 1980s. Some 390 names were supplied including Alison Chambers and Carol Cooper who were later identified as victims. At the same time, details mentioned by Frederick West were passed to NMPH for checking against our database. One result of this was the identification of Juanita Mott another of the victims discovered at Cromwell Street.[6] A positive side effect of the charities role in the investigation was the reunion of 110 non-victim families in less than two months. On 27 June 1994 the charity took over the Message Home Helpline from the Mothers' Union, allowing adult missing people to pass a message home. In response to NMPH's growing achievements the charity was honoured that HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO accepted the role of Patron. The Duchess continues to attend performances on our behalf and raise morale of staff and volunteers with regular visits.

Recognition (1996–1998)

In 1996 Mary Asprey and Janet Newman were honoured for their services to charity with OBEs. In 1998 both were honoured with the 'UK Women of Europe Award' and in the same year given the European Women of Achievement Humanitarianism Award and The Rotary Foundation's prestigious Paul Harris Fellowships.

Lost from View (2002)

The charity celebrates its 10th birthday.[7] Jointly with the University of York, NMPH produced 'Lost from View' in February 2002. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, for the first time research used the charity's unique database of all types of missing people to provide information and trends about the missing phenomenon.

Pioneering work (2003–2004)

Further accolades followed in 2003 when Mary and Janet were invited by The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to a reception at Buckingham Palace to mark the contribution of Pioneers to the life of the Nation. 2003 also saw the national roll out of the 'Missing from Care' project for local authorities 'looked after children' in September. This work for young people continued in May 2004 when NMPH launched the Runaway Helpline, as a direct response to a recommendation in the 2002 report by The Social Exclusion Task Force.

Financial problems (2005–2006)

Faced with closure after years of inadequate funding and little input from the private sector, the media announced NMPH was to close.[8] Under the direction of the co-Founders Sir Norman Wakefield was appointed as advisor and formed a consortium of charitable organisations that offered financial support. After an outpouring of public support the Home Office too announced emergency funding for the charity. In September 2005, Paul Tuohy joined the charity as their first Chief Executive. The charity reformed its Board of Trustees and started a considerable process of strategic planning.

New Beginnings (2007)

In May 2007 the charity relaunched as ‘Missing People’. This reflected the considerable strategic developments that had been made and the fact that the charity now provided a range of services rather than a single helpline.[9] Also in May, less than one week after her disappearance, missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann had become headline news around the globe.[10] On International Missing Children’s Day (25 May) an appeal by the charity was projected onto Marble Arch to highlight Madeleine’s disappearance and the plight of missing children across the UK.[11] In August Missing People launched the first comprehensive online “missing map” in the UK and Missing People TV’ – the first online channel featuring appeals of missing people.[12] In October the charity along with other NGOs from the English Coalition for Runaway Children asked the government to ‘stop missing the missing issue’. This led to the government developing a strategy on the protection of young runaways for the first time ever.[13] In 2007 the charity also teamed up with the police to hold their first joint conference on “missing”. Delegates came from across the globe came to Blackpool to debate and learn about the latest developments.[14] In November 2007 Missing People won two awards for its website[15] – which received more than 40 million hits in its first year. In December the BBC launched ‘Reunited’ - a season of hard hitting programmes about family members seeking to contact missing relatives and the complex reasons people run away.[16]

Finding Missing People and Supporting Families (2008)

In March 2008 hundreds of families of the missing joined together to march through London to highlight the impact of someone going missing on their family,[17] whilst Radiohead supported the charity with the donation of an exclusive one-off remix tape. April saw the first of the award-winning series Missing Live on BBC One. Successes included finding more than 100 people over the four week show. Missing People’s financial position was strengthened by a landmark decision by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to grant the charity £310,000 in June 2008[18] and by the appointment of five new trustees,[19] which led to a shortlisting at the Third Sector Awards 2008 for most improved Trustee Board.[20] In October 2008 Missing People and Iceland supermarket teamed up to launch milk carton appeals for the missing, following on from the success of a previous initiative with Iceland which had helped to find more than 15 people across millions of cartons. The first new appeal was for Andrew Gosden, a 14-year-old boy last seen at King’s Cross Station.[21] In December 2008 Missing People launched the first report into the experiences of, and impacts on, the families of missing people called ‘Living in Limbo’.[22] Also in December Missing People teamed up with 95.8 Capital FM to launch the Runaway Helpline text service, the first free helpline text service for young people, which was funded by Vodafone Foundation.[23]

Working with the police

Missing People works in partnership with police and other agencies to help find missing children and adults and support their family or carer. These services are available at no direct cost to forces. Missing People offer other services including publicity opportunities, liaison between forces, and identification services such as forensic artwork.[24]


  1. ^ "Martin Houghton-Brown is the new chief executive of Missing People". Third Sector Online. http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/News/Article/913169/Martin-Houghton-Brown. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Missing People About Us". Missing People. http://www.missingpeople.org.uk/about/. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "1986: Parents appeal for missing agent". BBC Online. 30 July 1986. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/30/newsid_2492000/2492647.stm. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "About Us". Suzy Lamplugh Trust. http://www.suzylamplugh.org/content.asp?PageID=1022. Retrieved 28 September 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Technology help search for toddler". BBC Online. 22 December 2000. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1081477.stm. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  6. ^ Bennett, Will (2 January 1995). "THE BODIES: Litany of sadness: the lives of West's twelve female victims". London: Independent Online. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/the-bodies-litany-of-sadness-the-lives-of-wests-twelve-female-victims-1566334.html. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "Search for missing children". BBC Online. 1 July 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2069533.stm. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  8. ^ Rumbelow, Helen (14 March 2005). "Missing persons charity faces closure". London: The Times Online. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article427237.ece. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  9. ^ "New name for National Missing Persons Helpline". Third Sector Online. http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/Channels/Communications/Article/659507/New-name-National-Missing-Persons-Helpline/. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  10. ^ "Media focus on Maddie". Aljazeera Net Online. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2007/09/2008525173021226920.html. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  11. ^ "Madeleine's Picture Lights Up Marble Arch". Sky News Online. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Madeleine/Madeleines-Picture-Lights-Up-Marble-Arch/Article/20070541267363?lid=ARTICLE_1267363_Madeleine%27s%20Picture%20Lights%20Up%20Marble%20Arch&lpos=Madeleine_0. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  12. ^ "Missing persons ‘map’ launched". BBC Online. 20 August 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6954631.stm. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  13. ^ "Call to boost runaways support". BBC Online. 15 October 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7044430.stm. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  14. ^ "Missing People conference in Blackpool 'a huge success'". Missing People Online. http://www.missingpeople.org.uk/news-and-events/news/detail.asp?dsid=630. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  15. ^ "Missing People and The Boots Pension Scheme Trustees amongst winners for the second annual CorpComms Awards". Cross Border News. http://www.thecrossbordergroup.com/pages/1915/Press+release+archive.stm?article_id=12255. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  16. ^ "Hard Christmas". BBC Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/hardchristmas/tvandradio. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  17. ^ "March for the Missing - London 12th March". NowPublic Online. http://www.nowpublic.com/world/march-missing-london-12th-march. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  18. ^ "Government grant puts Missing People back on track". Third Sector Online. http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/Channels/Finance/Article/824571/Government-grant-puts-Missing-People-back-track. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  19. ^ "Movers: Asra Alikhan, trustee, Missing People". Third Sector Online. http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/News/Article/786353/Movers-Asra-Alikhan-trustee-Missing-People/. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  20. ^ "Third Sector Excellence Awards: Most Improved Trustee Board". Third Secotr Online. http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/BigIssues/Details/58715/third-sector-excellence-awards-2008/Article/863190/Third-Sector-Excellence-Awards-Improved-Trustee-Board. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  21. ^ "Iceland launches milk carton initiative for missing people". Marketing Online. http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/news/search/856538/Iceland-launches-milk-carton-initiative-missing-people. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  22. ^ "Missing people". GMTV Online. http://www.gm.tv/articles/lk-today/lk-archive-nov-dec/32348-missing-people.html. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  23. ^ Ashton, Charlotte (5 December 2008). "More runaways using text service". BBC Online. http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/technology/newsid_7765000/7765861.stm. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  24. ^ "Missing People and the Police". Missing People. http://www.missingpeople.org.uk/professionals/the-police. Retrieved 10 June 2008. 

External links

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