A couple of weeks ago, at the Affordable Art Fair London, I met the UK charity Missing People, who were conducting a silent auction in aid of their cause. They are a 24 hour outreach hotline, used by people whose family members have gone missing and by missing people hoping to reconnect with their families.
Here are some sobering facts:
- More than 250,000 people go missing every year
- Missing People reconnected 1,051 children and adults
- Missing People provided 742 families with on-going support
Missing People also campaigned for the launch of a new telephone number — 116 000 — people can call in with information when someone disappears no matter which EU country the event occurred.
I remember as a child in New York hearing about the disappearance of Etan Patz, a 6 year old from SoHo, in 1979. The case received widespread national coverage and scared the living daylights out of many parents, including mine. His disappearance lead to the rise of awareness of the plight of missing children (and their parents) and he was the first child to be pictured on the side of a milk carton. (FYI, missing children’s photos were placed on the side of milk cartons in the USA in hopes of reaching the widest audience possible because so many homes bought milk. It was a way of putting a missing child’s face in front of as many people as possible – less of an issue in today’s social-media world). In 2012, a man was convicted of killing Etan Patz but the body has never been found.
I can’t even imagine the heartbreak of having someone you love go missing. The Patz parents had never moved from their NYC home, or changed their telephone number, on the slim chance Etan may return home. One can only hope they had the support of a charity like Missing Persons in the intervening years.
You are probably more conscious of a child being abducted if you are raising a family in an urban environment. But, of course, adults and children can disappear anywhere. We all remember the heartbreaking disappearance of Madeleine McCann on holiday.
photo credit: www.bodyofart.com
It’s not just children who go missing. The silent auction at the fair was possible through the generous donation by Ben Moore of some of his artwork. Mr. Moore has been personally touched by this sort of tragedy when his adult brother disappeared from their family home in London in 2003. His brother suffers from non-violent schizophrenia and the Moore family just want to know that he is safe. Here are 2 of the works auctioned at the fair:
Artwork donated by Ben Moore, the first with graffiti by street artist Inkie
If you would like to find out more about Missing People and/or volunteer or contribute, check out their website or Facebook page.
Unless otherwise noted, photos from Missing People