As poker players, we enjoy grappling with statistics. But here’s a remarkable stat that will bring nobody any joy: every year in the United Kingdom, 170,000 people are reported missing. That’s 170,000 people whose life might have veered off course. That’s 170,000 families for whom things might never be the same again.
There’s a report of a missing person EVERY 90 SECONDS — a person who becomes separated from their friends, their support network, and their loved ones. And the people most likely to go missing? It’s men, aged between 18 and 39.
Reasons vary, of course, and often there’s an innocent explanation. Sometimes a person is missing deliberately, keen to make a new start. But sometimes a person going missing can represent a serious failure in everything the rest of us take for granted, a crisis.
It could be because of mental health issues, relationship breakdowns, things we can all relate to.
The non-profit organisation Missing People (www.missingpeople.org.uk) exists to help everyone involved when someone goes missing. And it’s why Flutter Entertainment PLC, the parent company of PokerStars, has partnered with Missing People for the coming year, raising awareness of the charity’s work and supporting its vital campaigns.
Some missing people you will have heard of, but many more you won’t. For their families, life without them can be a desperate and unbearable struggle. Missing People is the organisation that is there for them every day of the year, at the end of a phone, text or email, ready to use every means possible to search for and find their missing loved ones and to provide vital on-going support to families where the agonising wait turns into years, not just days.
Missing People can offer advice and guidance to anybody who either knows someone who has gone missing, or who is thinking about going missing themselves.
Remember Missing People’s phone number — 116 000 — for anyone seeking advice, support and options if you, or someone you love, goes missing or runs away.
Flutter and Missing People launched its #TogetherForMissing partnership earlier this month, starting with a donation of £150,000 from Flutter. It will continue for the coming 12 months, with ambassadors from PokerStars and other brands keen to get involved to raise awareness of this hugely important work.
It’s Father’s Day in the UK this weekend, a time for people to think about the strength of family ties. Everybody who goes missing is somebody’s child and possibly somebody’s father.
Lex Veldhuis recorded his support for the #TogetherForMissing campaign in an exclusive video, and his fellow members of Team PokerStars Pro added a list of tips for how to support both yourself and someone you think might be struggling.
Below you can see a reminder of the tips share by the PokerStars Ambassadors. The single biggest thing to remember is to talk. So many potential crises can be averted when friends look out for one another.
And if you’re by yourself, take the time to think about how you feel. If things aren’t feeling so good, do the things you know make you feel better.
•Ask a mate how they are. Ask it twice.
•Go for a shoulder-to-shoulder walk with a buddy.
•Got a mate you’re worried about? Check in with them. A text is often enough.
•Ask yourself: how am I feeling today?
•Carve out time for yourself for a self-check in.
•Embrace emotions and speak up about how you’re feeling.
•Prioritise sleep, hydration, exercise and diet to look after yourself.
•Spark conversation among poker friends or sports team mates.
•Take time to actively listen to your friends.
•See professional support and counselling as a strength.
Former France international footballer and PokerStars Ambassador David Ginola sat down with a man named Gian Power for a deeply moving conversation about the effect a missing person can have on a family. In 2015, Power’s life was turned on its head when his father, Ranjit Singh Power, went missing after boarding a flight to India.
The family’s torment was only just beginning, and in the interview, Power reveals how desperately sad it can be when a loved one is missing, and how important Missing People’s work always is.
“The charity does great work in supporting families,” Power says. “If a loved one goes missing or if you’re an individual listening to this today thinking of going missing, or you are struggling, know that you can call 116 000 and get that support.”
Power now works with Missing People — one of many people with first-hand experience, who are only too aware of how significant support can be. A team of experts is on hand to speak with people who are experiencing what Power did or, even better, to speak with someone thinking about going missing, working to resolve issues before anyone takes any big steps.
“People aren’t necessarily going to say, ‘I’m going to go missing’, of course,” Power says. “But I hope that what we can do is say to men and anyone listening to this: ‘Do speak up.’ If you are having thoughts that, actually, I want to run away from home or I’m living a life where it’s just becoming too much for me. People care. There’s always somebody who cares for you.”
And it’s important to break through any preconceptions about what people should or shouldn’t say to their friends.
“As men, I know it’s difficult because we’re told to be macho and not to show your emotions,” Power says. “And so what I would say, if you’re listening to this, check in on your mates, you know, ask them how they’re doing, ask it two times, ask it three times, look them in the eye and ask them how they’re really feeling.”
You can always get support.
“Know that the Missing People charity is there,” Power says. “Privately, free, confidentially. It is a lifeline when somebody goes missing. There is somebody at the end of the phone that you can talk to.”
He adds: “We can prevent issues happening. Just show people that they are loved and that they are heard. And we can help so many people.”
More than 63 percent of adults who go missing are males, and the majority of them are young, i.e., under 30. It represents an obvious overlap with the customer base of many of Flutter’s brands, and the partnership between Flutter and Missing People can have the biggest impact on the people who can most benefit from the charity’s help.
Jo Youle, CEO of Missing People said: “After our successful campaign with Paddy Power last year we are really looking forward to working with Flutter over the next year to build awareness of our services for people in crisis. Flutter’s target audience means they are in a unique position to ensure that together we can engage with a large group of men aged 18-39 who are at the highest risk of going missing. Through our partnership we want to raise awareness of the issue, let more people know where to turn, and ask for the public’s help in the search for missing adults – something families we support have told us is especially important right now.”
Peter Jackson, Flutter Entertainment CEO, echoed the sentiments. He said: “We are delighted to build on our partnership with Missing People and come #TogetherforMissing following a year that has seen such extraordinary challenges. The statistics around missing people in the UK are stark with 1 in 500 adults going missing every year and over one million people affected by a disappearance. The issue of people going missing is one which will sadly affect some of Flutter’s customers and colleagues at some point, so we hope our partnership can help continue the brilliant efforts of Missing People.”
Look out throughout the coming year for many excellent opportunities to join the fundraising efforts and to raise awareness further of Missing People.
Remember the number: 116 000
And the website: www.missingpeople.org.uk