Letter: Families reunited

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From Mr Colin Fairclough

Sir: Following the Rosemary West trial, the subject of "missing persons" has again become a topic of interest and discussion ("Lost and not found", 28 November). There is very proper sympathy with those families from whom someone has recently left home, perhaps in unexplained or untoward circumstances. There is anxiety and a desire for urgent action.

It must also be recognised, however, that there are very large numbers of people for whom there has been a loss of contact over many years - perhaps through divorce or family breakdown of some other kind. There are many others who have never known the joy of a blood family relationship, because of childhood separation from parents and siblings. For such people the distress is equally present. Since it is of long standing, it is frequently deep-seated and traumatic.

The Salvation Army's Family Tracing Service was established in 1885, and it remains the world's largest and most successful tracing agency. Each year more than 5,000 active investigations are carried out in search of relatives. Every working day about 12 people are located. Christmas 1995 will see some 3,000 relatives in touch with their families who were separated this time last year.

Like the National Missing Persons Helpline, the Salvation Army's service depends upon charitable funding.

Yours faithfully,

Colin Fairclough



Family Tracing Service

The Salvation Army

London, WC1