VOLUNTEERS...IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Volunteering is rewarding and uplifting, but always comes at a price. Read about what Adrian and Nigel have endured and, more importantly, why they still want to help.

I have been involved with raising funds for children's charities for many years through a car club I belong to. However, the chairman of the club, Nigel Nessling and myself became further involved at a deeper and more personal level since Madeleine McCann disappeared. We both followed the case on-line in support of the McCann family's plight.

The reaction to our support was profound. Both myself and Nigel were stalked and intimidated by those who disliked McCann supporters at a level neither of us would have ever anticipated anyone would sink to. This of course only scratched at the surface of what the McCanns receive beyond the hurt and pain from not knowing what happened to their daughter.

Since then we became active for a UK charity supporting the parents of missing and exploited children and a support group helping the McCanns find Madeleine. This has proved to be uplifting and saddening at the same time. Talking to several parents, the one thing that keeps coming to the surface is the lack of support for people with missing young ones. Very evident and common is the finite funding law enforcement agencies are willing to spend before tucking cases under the carpet. This to an unattached observer can be logical, but to the parents it is closure on a mystery that will never be closed until the missing person is found. Emotionally and gut-wrenchingly irreconcilable. Yet, helping these people, at any level, is satisfying and good food for the soul.

The search continuity is left to the parents once law enforcement reaches a stop. This is where volunteers come in. At any level of help, volunteers are most welcome and appreciated. There are many practical ways to help families find their missing loved ones and with the help of sites such as Stacy's, many resources are shared and information is made available to build upon.

If there was one piece of advice I would share to make helping easier, it would be to keep off the forums arguing about specific cases. Too late for myself and Nigel to a degree,we will just have to grow thicker skins as the stalking, intimidation and defamation for supporting is relentless.

- Adrian Upshon, October 20, 2010

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