© Missing People
Written by Samantha Lade, DonateToday
Published: Wednesday, 14th February 2018
Their son was missing for six years before being found alive in Spain – now, this couple want to thank charity for support in their 'darkest times’
Their son was missing for six years before being found alive in Spain – now, this couple want to thank charity for support ‘in their darkest times’
After their 26-year-old son Matthew went missing in 2010, six long years of worry, frustration and sleep deprivation followed for Pauline and Jim Green. Now that he is back in their lives, the Kent-based couple want to thank charity Missing People for never giving up hope.
No Sign of their Son
It was back in 2010 when a 26-year-old Matthew Green told his parents, Pauline and Jim, that he was visiting a friend in London for a weekend away.
He left on the Friday. However, Matthew did not return to his home in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Days passed, but still, there was no sign of their son. He'd appeared to have gone missing.
For both Pauline and Jim, it was the endless unanswered questions surrounding the incident which kept them awake at night.
‘We had no insight that Matthew was going to go missing,’ explains his father, Jim. 'When he didn’t return, it was question after question after question to his whereabouts. Why did he go? I was asking myself over and over again what to do. We just didn’t know which way to turn.’
‘Those initial days were difficult,' remembers Pauline. 'I was mainly at a loss – I was crying a lot. It was very, very emotional for me, and draining.
‘I couldn’t handle the fact that he had just disappeared.’
"An estimated 135,382 individuals were reported missing in England and Wales in 2015/16 – just 2% of these people remain missing for longer than a week."
- Missing People, 2017
Six Long Years
Pauline recalls that after leaving numerous voicemails and 'message after message' on Matthew’s phone, the couple went to the police just days later, to report their son as missing.
The couple then endured six long years of worry and frustration, living in total limbo as the search for Matthew continued.
It was in May of 2016 that Kent Police announced Matthew had been found alive in Spain.
For the Greens, they felt as though all their ‘Christmases had come at once.’
But the couple’s story did not end there. As suggested by charity Missing People, often, people who have been missing may have reasons for choosing not to restart contact with their families. Pauline and Jim, are now on a new and equally hard journey with their son – although the good news remains that he is back in their lives.
‘It was a joyous time for us to actually find him,’ explains Pauline. ‘And now we’ve got him back – but, we’ve got a long, long way before we actually get him back.
‘We know it’s baby steps. But we’ll get there, we’ll definitely get there.’
"It was so draining. The sleep deprivation, and everything that goes with it."
- Pauline, Matthew's mother
Crucial Help and Support
To this day, Pauline and Jim remain adamant that the support of one particular organisation has helped them along their journey massively.
'After giving all the information to the police, it was the Missing People that contacted us from that,’ says Pauline.
From that initial contact, Missing People – the only charity in the UK dedicated to bringing missing children and adults back together with their families – remained by the Green’s side through the long and testing six years which it took to track Matthew down.
Jim (L) and Pauline (R) take part in a Missing People Facebook Live Q&A session
The charity supported the couple by helping to get his appeal out on digital billboards, as well as offering 24/7 support and advice via phone and email to Jim and Pauline.
‘The lovely team at the charity Missing People have been there for us from day one, through six, long years,’ say the Greens, whose advice to other families dealing with a missing loved one is to ‘never ever give up hope, and take every single opportunity.'
Missing People have helped 3,456 families of missing loved ones this past year alone. Digital support, telephone counselling and peer-to-peer support are just some services they provide.
‘In the darkest times of feeling as if the world had given up on Matthew, Missing People have been there to remind us that there were people who still cared,' finish the Greens. 'They never gave up hope.’ And they never will do.
If you or someone you know has recently experienced a loved one going missing, you can get help and support from Missing People here.