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Merseyside Lowland Search and Rescue members carrying a stretcher across a field.

News story

Edge Hill University worker dedicates hundreds of hours to searching for vulnerable people

August 9, 2023

Vital funds are being sought to help Merseyside Lowland Search and Rescue team (MerSAR) with much-needed new resources.

Tom Matthews, who works at Edge Hill University as a Team Leader in Campus Support, has been volunteering with MerSAR since he saw an advert in a local newspaper in 2018.

One of three Search Managers co-ordinating a large team of volunteers called to assist with locating high-risk, vulnerable and missing people, Tom has spoken about the vital work the team carries out without any central funding.

Tom Matthews, Merseyside Lowland Search and Rescue (MerSAR)

“When I first saw the advert, it looked like a great opportunity to help people and give something back to the community.

“We search for high risk missing people, usually elderly people with dementia, people with mental health issues and children.

“You get used to the emotional impact of the work and compartmentalise that side of things because we do deal with a lot of difficult situations.

“You have to learn to disconnect from it.

“The leadership skills I have developed at Edge Hill have helped me in my role with MerSAR and things I have learned in my volunteer role have also proved useful in my day job.

“When I first started, I wanted to get some experience in the wider world because I have been at Edge Hill since I was 16.

“Now it’s like having another full-time job but I love it.”

Tom Matthews

Tom, 27, from Bickerstaffe, has personally put in more than 300 hours of voluntary over a total of 48 events, training or callouts so far in 2023.

As a non-profit organisation, MerSAR relies solely on the generosity of the community to support its work.

Without any government funding, volunteers raise funds to acquire essential medical equipment and supplies that are necessary to provide top-notch care to those in need.

Merseyside Lowland Search and Rescue vehicles.

“There’s no central funding. We’re a registered charity and we have to source our own funds through grants, fundraising activities and donations.

“In September we’re taking part in Malpas 10k Tough Mudder and we’re hoping to raise £1,000 which we’ll use to put together a drone team and to assist with general running costs that includes medical supplies, insurance costs, vehicle running costs and much more”.

“Having this capability would make us much more efficient in searching large areas, which can be very time and resource intensive.

“It would make a huge difference to the team and we’re grateful for every donation we get.”

Tom Matthews

MerSAR works in close partnership with Merseyside Police to provide specialised search teams and cutting-edge equipment to locate high-risk, vulnerable, and missing persons within Merseyside.

The team is part of a nationwide network of 36 Lowland Rescue teams, ready to assist other teams in counties across the UK when called upon.

MerSAR has had 31 callouts over the last 12 months, within Merseyside and assisting neighbouring teams.

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August 9, 2023


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