The Lucie Blackman Trust can offer a wealth of support to the families of missing persons, from co-ordinating International searches to simply being someone to talk to.
Many people just want to talk to someone who has 'been there', someone who understands what they are going through. We can put you in touch with people just like you, people who understand how you feel better than anyone.
You might want to fly immediately to the area to start searching - a perfectly reasonable wish. We'll talk through this with you, and if you want to go, we'll try and get you discounted, (sometimes free), flights, and we'll try and get them for you as soon as you are packed. We'll take care of visas and medical requirements as much as we can too so you can concentrate on what you need to.
Whatever it is you need, we will probably be able to help. If we can't we'll try our best to find you someone who can. All of these services are provided free of charge.
We try to anticipate your needs before you know what they are. Once we went shopping to make sure one family had flight socks and toothpaste before we took them to Heathrow for a flight. But if we haven't thought of something you need please do ask.
What we can do, although there is much more, includes:
Handling all media, from writing Press Releases and getting them circulated to holding full-scale Press Conferences;
Providing 24 hour hotlines, terminated anywhere in the world to facilitate fast reports to be made;
Designing and distributing Missing Person Posters - our in house Graphic Designer can also produce web banners and anything else to help the search;
Arranging Flights, Hotels and Hire Cars at discounted rates or free;
Liaising with the FCDO, Police, Interpol, British Embassy or any other authority on your behalf;
Offer sound advice based on real experience every step of the way;
Promote a Missing Person Profile on this website and circulate it to all major media both in the UK and the country concerned;
Run a campaign using our social media - targeted to the area in question;
Provide repatriation services to get the Missing Person back home;
Talk to and get support from your local MP / MEP;
Supply a list of lawyers, search teams etc, although we can't guarantee any services carried out by a third party;
Arrange fund raising campaigns and appeals to help raise funds to cover the costs of a search;
Talk to employers and people you need to pay - going abroad on a search can lead to prolonged absences and unpaid bills - we can try to explain why this is happening to them;
Conduct our own investigations for you, although the Data Protection Act may forbid us from disclosing certain details;
Arrange for funds to be transferred from the UK to wherever you need them
Discuss, and if deemed necessary, arrange for a reward to be offered for information;
Explain how different governments and cultures work, and how this will affect your search;
Be there for you whenever you need us throughout the ordeal.
What we can't do
Whilst we endeavour to provide every service you could need, you should be aware of a few areas we can't help:
We can't provide financial help from our own funds, although we can run appeals for you;
We can't conduct physical searches, although we can help arrange them for you and support them throughout;
We can only work with cases where the person missing or in need of assistance is a British National. This is for no other reason than the contacts and support networks we work with are only able to provide assistance to British Nationals.
All the services we provide for families of those missing or in need of assistance are completely free of charge.
Part of our service includes the sourcing of cut price (and when possible, free) flights and accommodation for such families if they are needed. However, at the moment we are sadly not in a position to be able to fund the actual cost of flights or hotels ourselves. Very occasionally we may be able to make a small contribution to these costs but this remains at the discretion of our board and every case is considered individually.
When the worst happens
Sometimes we successfully trace people who don't want to be reunited with their families, and obviously we must respect this. In this situation we will do our best to ascertain that the person is safe and well, and ask if they want any message passed back home. If they don't want any contact made though, we must respect their wishes. Similarly, if they don't want any messages sent to them - we simply can't send any.
In these cases we have an established and comprehensive protocol we use to assure both us and you that we are speaking to the missing person.
Inevitably, and tragically, not all cases are resolved as we would like and sometimes the family is faced with the prospect that their loved one isn't coming home.
We will still be here for you, from the beginning to the end.
When a family is faced with the awful prospect of having to bring a loved one home for burial or cremation, we can assist with repatriation and funeral arrangements, making sure everything is the way they want it, to the letter. There is a phenomenal amount of arrangements to make, but we can take most of this burden away from the family.
We can also assist where a criminal trial is taking place. This could be because someone has been killed or someone has been the victim of crime whilst abroad. We can't interfere with the judicial system in any part of the world, but we can ensure that your rights are upheld and you are treated fairly and with respect. We can liaise with all relevant authorities, and in some cases arrange for evidence to be given via video from the UK.
We can't represent you in court, but can arrange this for you. Again, we can't guarantee the services of any third party but we will do our best to supply the best people suited to the case.
Our Trust was created to help. Everything listed above is a service we already have provided to thousands of families, so you can rest assured that we know what you are going through.
At the beginning of an ordeal like this it is very easy to assume the worst, and reading the section on the worst case scenarios won't have made this any easier, though it needs to be there. However, in all of our cases so far the vast majority have ended up with a happy ending, and we have attended numerous emotional reunions at Heathrow.
Many cases get solved within a few days.
But whatever your situation now, the dedicated team at The Lucie Blackman Trust are here to help - right when you need us.