The service exists for the purpose of trying to restore (or to sustain) family relationships, by locating relatives who for whatever reason have become out of touch. Loss of contact may have taken place within the last few months, or many years ago. It may have been a deliberate break or otherwise. The department is sometimes able to help also in matters to do with identity and relationships. Successful investigations often bring a sense of "belonging" to those who have never known close blood-ties - restoring in them new feelings of dignity, of self worth and of life purpose.
Today, the Missing Persons Service works in more than 100 countries where The Salvation Army is operating. Searches are carried out by Salvation Army personnel in the countries concerned. It is usual for a standard inquiry form to be completed in the country where the inquirer is living. To contact the department, simply contact your nearest Territorial Headquarters, addressing your letter to "The Family Tracing or Missing Persons Service." Contact information can be found on our international website.
When the department is asked to conduct investigations, a relative may have been out of touch for 6 months, or 60 years. (A reunion took place between a brother and sister after 57 years!) Inquiries may take a few minutes - or a few years!
Absolute confidence is observed. The address of a relative who has been found is never disclosed without his or her prior consent. In certain cases, the department is, however, willing to act as a "post office box" until such time as the missing person involved feels free to reveal their address for direct communications.
The Missing Persons Service of The Salvation Army was established in London in the 1880's, and therefore has more than a century of experience, expertise and credibility.
Many young people were leaving their families in the provinces to seek employment in the city. Employment was scarce. Some had their dreams shattered and faced moral, financial and spiritual troubles; consequently, their families lost track of them. Parents contacted William Booth, because the organization was known for its willingness to help any in need. An Inquiry department was set up to receive requests from anxious parents.
The Salvation Army's Missing Person Service is international in scope. A Missing Persons/Family Tracing Office is located in every one of the over 100 countries where The Salvation Army operates.