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No rest for rescue team – after floods, it’s now missing people
SEARCH and rescue volunteers who have worked around the clock to deal with flooding expect the start of the year to be just as busy.
Richard Bailey, chairman of West Midlands Search and Rescue, said they expected to see a rise in the number of call-outs to assist with missing person searches following the festive period.
Family break-ups over Christmas, loneliness or a bleak outlook for the coming year are just a few of the many reasons people may be feeling suicidal or decide to run away at this time of year.
Mr Bailey said: “I believe it will start getting quieter for water rescue but land searches for missing people will get busier.
“This time of year can be very difficult. There is a lot of stress on families and individuals, there will have been a number of family break-ups, people feel they have no other option.”
A Worcester Samaritans spokesman said they see a rise in phone calls about two weeks after Christmas and new year in particular.
“We do try and encourage people if they are feeling low at any time of year and particularly this time of year to contact us because we’re here for anybody who needs to talk to someone.”
West Midlands Search and Rescue was called out on New Year’s Eve to help search for a missing 27-year-old woman in Shropshire.
“We were then diverted to a second search and while we were on the road we were called about a third possible search,” Mr Bailey said.
It has been a busy time for the crew, who were sent by the National Flood Relief Centre to incidents across the country, including Devon, as well as rescues nearer home, such as canoeists in Upton-upon-Severn and 12 people at a holiday home in Uckinghall.
The crew badly needs more volunteers in Worcester and Evesham, where they respond to the most call-outs, as well as funds to keep the charity afloat.
Mr Bailey said: “We could always use more people as it means rescuers can take a break and perhaps do four hours instead of the eight hours we have been doing.
“As well as rescuing people, we are fund-raising and we are also in need of admin people to keep the paperwork up to date as we have to do it to the same level as the fire service.”
Potential volunteers, who will be given full training, should e-mail recruitment@ wmsar.org.uk. More information is available by visiting wmsar.org.uk.
l Anyone wishing to speak to the Samaritans can call the local branch on 01905 21121 or the national charity on 08457 909090. Lines are open 24 hours. Alternatively, call into the offices at 9 Sansome Place, Worcester, WR1 1UA. The office is open Monday to Saturday, 9am to 10pm, and Sunday, 9am to 3pm.