A new survey released today (Wednesday 15 May) on International Day of Families, reveals that 57 per cent per cent of people have lost touch with a member of their family. The Salvation Army poll, conducted online by YouGov, assessed how families now stay in contact with relatives they do not live with. It found that nearly a fifth of young adults aged 18 – 24 (19 per cent), are no longer in touch with a grandparent, compared with an average of just five per cent. Thirteen per cent of young adults say they only hear updates from close family members through social media. More than one in ten (11 per cent) of all those questioned are no longer in contact with a brother, and eight per cent have lost touch with a sister. Yet the survey shows that many people wanted to get back in contact with their lost relative. Major Margaret Hardy, who co-runs The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service, says: “We know that positive family relationships can have an enormous impact on our wellbeing, and yet more than half of us no longer speak to a relative. Our busy lives can have a profound impact on our ability to stay in contact. Something as simple as a lost address book, or telephone number can lead to years of heartache.”
Most people surveyed who have lost contact with a close family member said it was either due to an argument (19 per cent), moving house (21 per cent) or because they are too busy to stay in touch (19 per cent). One in five of those all those who lost contact with a relative said rebuilding their relationship was the reason they wanted to get back in touch.
[Read more: The Salvation Army's Family Tracing Service]
“The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service has been helping relatives find one another for more than 125 years”, Major Hardy adds. “Getting back in contact can be an enriching and life-changing experience. If you have lost touch, don’t delay. It can take as little as a few weeks to find people and it’s often more straight forward than people think.” The survey also revealed gender differences in how those who have close family members they do not live with stay in contact – men are more likely than women to keep in touch by seeing (26 per cent vs. 22 per cent) or phoning their relative (45 per cent vs. 38 per cent). Women, however, stay in touch more regularly than men (63 per cent of females speak to close family members they do not live with at least once a week vs. 51 per cent of males). In fact, whatever their gender, nearly half of all respondents (48 per cent) said text messaging, social media skype and other communication technology made it much easier to stay in touch with close family members. The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service, established in 1885, reunites on average 10 people every working day. The service is international and networks with other Salvation Army centres around the world, to find people in places as far away as South Africa, Australia, and the US.