Royal Mail has created a freepost address – ‘Freepost Missing People’– for those who are missing to attempt to make contact with their families through the charity. The address has been set up in time for the festive season, when many people think about their families and loved ones. Getting back in touch with friends and relatives after a period away can be hard. The new system is a simple way for missing people to send a message, with the option of doing so without the possibility of being traced.
In addition, to mark the one-year anniversary of its partnership with Missing People, Royal Mail is contributing £50,000 to fund the national Child Rescue Alert system. Royal Mail will be funding the Child Rescue Alert service for a year, starting from January 2016. An alert is issued when a child is known to have been abducted or when their life is believed to be at immediate risk. It will ensure the operation of a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year system, for one year. The specific criteria and urgent nature of Child Rescue Alerts means that the charity’s expert helpline team must be trained and ready to issue an alert at any time.
The partnership between Royal Mail and Missing People was launched in November 2014, with Royal Mail distributing ‘high risk' alerts to its postmen and women through their handheld scanners. In its first year, fifty alerts have been issued to Royal Mail employees. Thirty five of those missing people have been found safe and well.
Jeffrey Oatham, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Community Investment, Royal Mail said: “The creation of Freepost Missing People and our £50,000 contribution mark the next step in our partnership with Missing People. Royal Mail is dedicated to supporting the communities that we serve. We hope that those who are missing see the Freepost Missing People address and write to the charity so that families can be reunited at Christmas. Royal Mail’s handheld scanners are already set up to receive Child Rescue Alerts and we are encouraging all of our 143,000 UK employees to sign up to receive Child Rescue Alerts on their personal mobiles. This can be done through the Child Rescue Alert website”.
Jo Youle, CEO, Missing People said: “For some people who are missing, taking the first step towards reconnecting with their families or loved ones can be very difficult. We hope the option of writing a freepost letter to receive free, confidential support from Missing People, and the option to reconnect, may encourage people to get in touch. Anyone writing in simply needs to provide a way for the charity to contact them back. We hope Royal Mail’s new postal initiative will bring many positive reconnections. In addition, Royal Mail’s funding of Child Rescue Alert next year will allow us to continue to support missing people, their families and police forces all around the UK”.
Missing People runs the Child Rescue Alert system with the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) command of the National Crime Agency and technology company Groupcall. When a Child Rescue Alert is issued, it is sent directly to both Royal Mail employees and individual members of the public, who can sign up for free to receive alerts by text message, email, app notifications and social media. Alerts reach many more people through broadcast and mainstream media including digital billboards.