Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Missing People. Is Support There?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Missing People. Is Support There?

Article excerpt

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to improve the support offered to the families of missing people. ANDY PASSANT looked at the experience of one Teesside family.

NOT knowing whether a missing relative is dead or alive has been described as a living nightmare.

And families on Teesside are not alone in having to endure the anguish of wondering whether they will see a loved one again.

With that in mind, a call has now gone out for more support for those who are affected.

The issue has been raised by Kate McCann, whose little girl's disappearance made headlines around the world.

Madeleine was aged just three when she vanished from a holiday flat on the Algarve in Portugal in 2007 and sparked a global hunt.

But other searches do not attract the same level of publicity.

And Mrs McCann has now given evidence to MPs on the lack of emotional support given to the families of missing people.

She says relatives are left with "unimaginable, unending heartbreak, confusion, guilt, and worry".

And her words have struck a chord with Doris and Charles Clark, who have never given up hope that their son Steven may one day get in touch.

Steven, then 23 and from Marske, hasn't been seen since he popped into a public toilet at Saltburn during a day-out.

That was nearly 19 years ago - on December 28, 1992.

Subsequent media appeals have offered hope but ultimately ended in disappointment.

And Doris, of Marske, said the false dawns are something you have to live with - and that different people cope differently.

"It is something you have to get used to, but you never get used to it because it is with you all the time," she said.

"We have coped. I don't know whether you can ever say you have coped well. We are quite close. I suppose we are very lucky in that respect."

Charity Missing People has launched a campaign calling for improved support for families.

It wants families to have access to specialists who can help them deal with the legal, financial and emotional challenges they face when a loved one disappears.

Spokesman Martin Houghton-Brown said: "As it stands, if your house is burgled you are automatically offered emotional, practical and legal support. …

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