The sister of missing Manic Street Preacher guitarist Richard Edwards has backed a new project funded by the Big Lottery.
The charity Missing People will receive close to £500,000 over three years to provide critical support to adults and children in Wales who have been missing and to their families after they have been found.
In the UK, an estimated 327,000 people are reported missing to the police each year. The majority (66%) are children and young people between the age of 12 and 17.
A Welsh Advisory Group will be set up to assist the ‘After Missing’ support project. It will seek to help previously missing people and their families come to terms with their experiences – providing the conditions that will hopefully reduce the likelihood of them leaving again and the uncertainty and anguish that follows.
Rachel Elias, sister of Richard Edwards who went missing in 1995 said: “I’m grateful to Missing People for the help and support they’ve given me and my family, and countless families up and down the country. I’m pleased to see this ground-breaking Big Lottery funded project being delivered for the people of Wales.”
The Blackwood guitarist disappeared in 1995 but it was not until 2008 that he was legally declared dead after it took her family four years to obtain a court order.
Figures compiled by the Welsh Police Authorities state that of the 13,390 people reported missing in Wales in 2011/12, 39% went missing again during that year.
The project will be developed in partnership with Wales’ four police authorities and the Gwent Missing Hub, along with local voluntary and public sector organisations.
John Rose, Director Wales at the Big Lottery Fund said, “This multi agency approach involving schools, fostering agencies and housing authorities will try to understand the complex and varied reasons behind individual cases of people who have gone missing and offer appropriate support.”
He added: “Whilst relatives and friends will undoubtedly experience feelings of great relief when a loved one returns or is found after being missing, those thoughts can quickly be replaced by feelings of anxiety and guilt – questions of how and why and self-blame and concerns that it could happen again.”
Jo Youle, Chief Executive of Missing People said: “This is a fantastic opportunity made possible by the Big Lottery Fund and allows us to develop and deliver tailored new services to the people of Wales.
“We look forward to working with other charities, police forces, local authorities, schools and other organisations to help support those who’ve gone missing and their loved ones when they return home.
“We know from consultation with our service users and the police that many people are not getting the support they need. We don’t want our support to these people to stop at such an important time and with this project we will be there for people during an emotional time and to try to help make that reconnection easier.”