Volunteering can save lives, says long-standing volunteer Sarah Allan, who has been supporting callers to the Missing People helpline for more than 10 years.
A young girl called one evening, saying she had run away from home weeks earlier and had been sleeping on a bench.
Sarah said: “The aim was to get her to talk to social services and try to get her to a place of safety. We did manage to bring that about. That makes you feel as if you have really made a difference.”
Missing People’s 24/7 free and confidential helpline receives 1,000 calls a month from vulnerable young people. Volunteers also take calls from vulnerable adults and children who are thinking of running away or have left home or a care home and have nowhere to go.
The helpline team also helped a woman who was suicidal, who changed her mind because she had received a Textsafe text, which lets you know someone has reported you missing.
Sarah, who received a Volunteer of the Year award from the Helpline Association three years ago added:
“The police took her to hospital, It was amazing to be part of that.”
As the contributions of people who give up their time to help others are celebrated as part of Volunteers’ Week this week, Missing People recorded 5003 hours of volunteer support in the past year.
Helpline volunteer Kayleigh said:
“On one of my shifts, a woman called to advise she was no longer missing and had recently got back in contact with her family. She had been missing for a long time and it was really heart-warming.
“We did a three-way call to the police, and she seemed really happy with the outcome. We all want there to be a happy ending, so it’s particularly lovely when there is.”
“I found the training sessions on how to listen effectively to be particularly interesting, and I have been able to use that training to become a better listener, not only at missing people but also in my role as a nurse.
“I had no idea before I started just how large an issue ‘missing’ really is. It’s incredibly moving to speak to family members and loved ones about their experience and there have been several calls I have taken from people who have lost their loved ones, and their strength and resilience is remarkable.”
Missing People’s helpline is free, confidential and open 24/7 thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.