Three years ago, postman Vincent Micallef was asked to help with the search for a missing child while he was on his round. The child was ultimately found by the police, safe and well, but, by then, Micallef had seen the benefits of enlisting his colleagues in the search.
The following year, Royal Mail and national charity Missing People announced a partnership that would see ‘high risk’ missing people alerts sent to 124,000 postmen and women via their handheld scanners.
When the partnership was first unveiled, just 123,000 people around the country received missing people alerts. Royal Mail instantly doubled the number of people receiving them. The partnership has the support of the Communication Workers Union, which has 120,000 Royal Mail members, which led to the development of a multi-channel communication programme that reaches all employees, including 80 per cent of those who do not have access to a computer at work.
Today, 139,000 Royal Mail employees receive alerts about missing people via their handheld scanners, the company’s Intranet and on 1,800 office television screens. Alerts are geographically targeted to the most relevant delivery and collection routes.
This year, Royal Mail further extended the partnership. It has funded a Child Rescue Alert system, ensuring it remains a 24-hour, all-year round service. It has also promoted the new system, contacting all 650 MPs to let them know it is available and sending postcard mail-outs to more than 14,000 marketing contacts.
Royal Mail has also launched a new Freepost Missing People address that allows missing people to write anonymously, if they so wish, and reconnect with families and friends. Missing People postmarks on more than 20 million items of mail also served to raise awareness of the charity and the Child Rescue Alert system.
But the partnership has also been embraced by the Royal Mail’s employees. The Mail Voice Choir this year supported Missing People with its charity single I Hope, while many others have raised funds through charitable activities, such as participating in the Miles for Missing race in September. Royal Mail has also offered other support to Missing People, such as space in its online educational publication Teacher’s Post to promote Child Rescue Alerts to educational professionals and parents. A member of Royal Mail’s community investment team also sits on Missing People’s advisory board.
Since the launch of the partnership in November 2014 until March 2016, 70 alerts have been issued with 50 people found safe and well. Half of these were children. But publicity about the partnership also served to boost the number of people who have signed up to receive alerts to more than 355,000. More than 41,000 people have also signed up to receive Child Rescue Alerts.
‘This is a truly stand out partnership,’ said the judges. ‘It is extremely clever, relevant and built out of insight.’