A charity supports relatives facing a crisis abroad

When Esther Dingley’s remains were found in August, more than eight months after she went missing on a solo hike in the Pyrenees, her family in Britain were supported by LBT Global.

Chief Executive Officer Matthew Searle said he receives about 3,000 missing person inquiries a year.

“Most can be resolved quickly. For example, a mother contacted us because she had not received the daily call from her son, who was traveling abroad, for two days, ”he said.

“We quickly realized it was because he was going through an isolated rainforest with no signal.

“On the other end of the scale, we had a case where we reunited a family after 16 and a half years, but it’s rare and we have to help people manage expectations when it’s unlikely. they will never see their loved ones again. . ”

When it comes to an emergency overseas, Searle says speed is everything.

“We call the early hours ‘the golden hours’. If we know that someone has gone missing in Paris, for example, we have a much better chance of finding them if we receive a report after half an hour than a day later when they might be far.

LBT Global advises relatives to also contact the UK Embassy, ​​local police overseas and, if living in the UK, the relevant police service for their domicile.

The additional assistance provided by the association takes the form of information, liaison, advice and support, as well as an active search for the missing person. Although this is only a small team, he has contacts all over the world, and Mr Searle says he can effectively use social media locally.

“We have a team of volunteers who send emails to businesses and organizations in this area and ask them to send us information and put up posters.

“We almost always get useful information this way. “

The charity says it never abandons families.

“It can be a huge ordeal for them and we keep in touch for as long as necessary, even after the person has been found.

“If there is a death, we will help bring the body home, handle the paperwork and provide support during the bereavement.

“When someone comes home, we often go to the airport to arbitrate, because sometimes the cause of the disappearance is an argument.

“Some people need mental health care when they arrive or help from social services. ”

Mr Searle says there are five to six missing persons cases every three months in France. Most turn around quickly.

At the time of this writing, there were 18 ongoing cases – the oldest dating from 2008 and the most recent from this May.

Any UK resident on holiday or living in France can contact the association online or on +44 1983 718802.