Irish-based bookmaker Paddy Power announced today it joined forces with the Missing People charity and Motherwell FC to launch a campaign that will raise public awareness for the scope of the problem with missing people in the UK. As part of the campaign, the sports betting operator would fill the South Stand at the stadium with blank silhouettes.
Worrying Numbers of Missing People in the UK
According to official statistics, every 90 seconds a person disappears in the UK, which means that for the duration of a football match, 35 people go missing, making the annual figure of missing people around 186,000, and nearly half of these, 86,000, are children. Missing persons annually affect the lives of 1,000,000 people in the country.
To highlight the magnitude of the problem, Paddy Power filled the stand with 1,190 silhouettes, much like those used in the stadia used during the period when games are behind closed doors due to the virus-related restrictions, but unlike the animated and colourful versions, Flutter-owned operator chose its cardboard cutouts to be completely blank.
“We all know fans are missing from football at the moment, but some are missing from wider life, too. We hope this campaign, and striking image, can spark conversations across the country – as the majority of our customer base are young men, the demographic that’s most at risk of going missing.”Spokesperson, Paddy Power
The South Stand at The Well’s Fir Park was filled with cardboard silhouettes ahead of Motherwell’s first home game of the season on Saturday, against Dundee United. The silhouettes will remain in place until virus restrictions in the UK ease to allow supporters to return to the grounds. Besides the stadium stand display, Paddy Power will place posters of missing people across its 650 stores in the locations where people were last seen to help establish the safety of some of them, at least.
Missing People, the charity that supports people who are thinking about going missing, have gone, or after they return, as well as their loved ones, pointed out its message sent out through the Paddy Power stores would reach a key group of people at higher risk of going missing, men aged between 18 to 39.
“This is a highly visible and needed opportunity for families in communities across the UK to raise awareness of their missing loved one – at a time when it is so hard to search due to COVID-19 restrictions.”Jo Youle, CEO, Missing People
The partnership with Paddy Power will help fund more than 500 people in crisis through the 24/7 support provided by the charity on its helpline during times when people need that more than ever. The reasons people go missing may vary a lot, from exploitation, abduction and abuse, to addiction, neglect, debt, dementia and mental health, as well as accidents or incidents.
The sports book operator which recently got involved in a gaffe related to its weekly round-up ‘Fan Denial’ considers the issue of people going missing to become larger over the coming years.