From now until the end of January, GTR is utilising its far-reaching Wi-Fi network to increase the visibility of individuals who are considered long-term missing. Customers logging into Wi-Fi onboard Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express trains will see a different missing person each week. With more than five million passengers logging into GTR’s Wi-Fi every week, it is hoped this exposure will help the charity’s mission to give these people a Safe Way Home.
With one person reportedly going missing every 90 seconds in the UK, that could be up to 40 people in a single rush hour or daily commute. To represent this figure, 40 sets of disappearing footprints are on display from today at London Blackfriars station, set to be seen by more than 100,000 people every day.
GTR’s Safeguarding and Wellbeing Manager, Laura Campbell, said that working closely with a charity like Missing People is key for GTR in supporting its communities after seeing a 20% month-on-month increase in cases of vulnerable people at stations.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen a concerning increase in reports about vulnerable people on our network. We know that winter can be a tough time for many, so it’s really important we’re looking out for those most at risk. Our staff are trained in how to look out for and look after those who may be vulnerable, and we want our passengers to be aware too. We hope that together with our passengers, we can positively contribute to the vital work of Missing People and help reunite families with loved ones this winter.”
The partnership comes after GTR awarded Missing People £25,000 as part of its community fund to support local causes across its network. The funding will help to increase awareness of Missing People and its helplines, with posters and station announcements in place at GTR’s busiest station – East Croydon – along with digital posters at selected sites across the entire network. The Safe Way Home campaign offers help to those with a loved one missing, as well as signposting on how to anonymously report information about someone who is missing.
Paul Joseph, Head of Helpline at Missing People, said that as winter approaches, concerns for the welfare of missing people and their loved ones increases, with rail networks serving as one of the most common forms of transport where people go missing.
“As the clocks go back and the days become darker, there’s even more concern for people who are missing or at risk of going missing. Our aim with GTR is to provide as much awareness and support to these people as possible in the lead up to winter across one of the key modes of transport that people use to go missing. Launching our partnership with GTR at this time of year will help to provide valuable resources that could make a significant impact to the lives of those affected by a missing person.”
Working with the loved ones of people who are missing is key to the support Missing People provides. Suzi, whose brother Shaune will appear on GTR’s Wi-Fi login page as part of the campaign, said that she’s grateful for anything that could help to find her brother.
“It’s hard to comprehend the feelings you experience when someone you love goes missing. My brother went missing six years ago after a medical appointment in Eltham. That’s six years of not knowing where he is or if he’s okay. When he went missing, he was a brother to four, a father to five and a grandfather to one. I am so grateful for the support that Missing People and GTR are providing to help find my brother. I just want to know that he's okay.”
Anyone who is affected by someone going missing or is thinking of going missing can contact Missing People on 116 000.