Ever wondered how to find a lost friend in England or other part of the UK?
If you live in a different part of the world then trying to find an old friend in the UK may be a little more difficult. You are not familiar with some aspects of life here, particularly the Geography! To help out our overseas friends we have put together a handy guide for your free searching. This is just as useful for people already in the UK.
Here are some of our tips to find a long lost friend for free
The first thing we recommend is a brain storm. Get your pen and paper and write down as much information as you can remember about the person. This is the most important part, we never start a search without mapping all of this out first!
- Name, nickname, and previous surname if a married female when you knew them.
- Date of birth or approximate age, try to narrow it down as much as possible but unless you are really sure- a 5 year time window is usually best with friends.
- Family- names of their partner, parents, siblings or children can all help. Their approximate ages would also be fantastic to note down. Finding an old friend is easier if you can also narrow searches down with relatives names.
- Map out a basic family tree with the family information you wrote down. This makes it easier to visualise and easier to explain when you ask for help.
- Profession/Education- On a separate list write some facts about the person- Where did they work or study and roughly when? If you cant remember the name of the firm, right down the profession, or the area they worked or studied in. If you cannot remember the town, write down the county (known as a state in some countries). If they have moved to the UK since you last saw them do you recall the names of any relatives they used to visit there?
- Hobbies- Did they play a sport or enjoy a particular craft? Do you recall them taking an evening class in anything? Were they a member of a Veterans Society? Can you remember any associations they were a part of? perhaps you competed in athletics with your old friend? Peoples interests tend to stay the same when they move countries, if they like bowling then they like it- that wont change! If they are no longer able to play the sport- they may coach it, they may be a chairperson of the association, or be involved in a charity relating to their hobby. Finder Guru People Tracers once solved a case by looking through Cricket awards!
- Details, no matter how insignificant, are often how we solve a case! Do not discount anything or dismiss anything. Everything can be investigated and eliminated over time. If you are trying to trace an old friend then you have to be a detective now, write down EVERYTHING!
That Was The Most Important Part Of Your Preparation For Finding A Lost Friend In The UK
A very important thing if you are searching for an old friend is to GOOGLE YOURSELF. Are you easy to find? If not, what if they are also looking for you? Make yourself visible in case they are trying to search for you. Make it easier for yourself! Make sure you have a social media profile that lists your name( and maiden name if applicable) along with your hometown etc. So they will know its you. Also have your own photo as the profile picture. If you have a picture of a dog they may not message you in case you are the wrong one! Put yourself in their shoes, are YOU easy to find? You can always change your profile back once you have found your UK friend.
Now you have made yourself visible online and you have your brainstorm done, we are going to build on that information and start searching ( never search till the brainstorm is done- you just go over and over old ground and go in circles, you need a way to check off that list accurately! It is really easy to go down a rabbit hole with these things so organisation is the key. We are all about making things easy here at Finder Guru People Tracers, Your time is valuable, do not waste it unnecessarily.
If you have any social media accounts, now is the time to check them, as you now have a list of ‘corroborating evidence’ that will help you to decide if someone is a match to the person you are looking for. You may not want social media accounts, but you can delete them if you wish to in future. So take heed of the next important tip.
This bit is VERY important for your search-
Make a new email address. You are going to need it. If you want to find an old friend for free you are going to have to join a lot of groups and post on websites, and email many places. You need to be able to separate all your search queries easily and this is the best way. Do NOT use your personal one- things get mixed up or even worse- missed! You have to set up a new one so you can effectively manage the search and reduce the impact on your spare time- because free searches are often very lengthy and need commitment – so you need to be able to switch off from it too!
You can thank us later for that one!
Now you have your new email address, you are finally ready to start. Your foundation is all laid out, you have done your social media checks, you are going to manage your time well and it isn’t going to interfere in your life as much. The next thing to make life easier is to start a fresh file on your PC in which you can save any screen shots that come up in your search. Alternatively create a folder on your phone. Always be organised and be able to access everything whenever you want.
Things to do now
You can sign up for various free trails for family tree building websites which may help you locate the person you need. You MUST put in your diary the date you have to cancel the free trial or your card may be charged. For effectiveness, we recommend signing up to one- searching it and using it for the trial period, then closing it and opening another account on a different family tree website after that. This way you will have several weeks of access to various sites to help. If you join them all at once….overwhelm city! Be sure to use your new email address for sign ups and remember- CANCEL WITHIN THE TRIAL PERIOD if you want to find your friend for free. Use these sites for 2 things- one- to see if anyone has a family tree with the person on that you are looking for so you can message them, and secondly to access the community noticeboards where you post details of who you are looking for.
We use the following sites on a daily basis and have done for the last 15 years.
Make Google Your Best Friend
Here at Finder Guru we use google hundreds of times a day for our research in locating long lost family and friends. Enter the name of the person you are searching for in speech marks, followed by an identifying feature. eg- “Tom Moore” Captain. Google will search for the exact term in the speech marks and will check that exact term against the additional word. You can also try adding another additional word like this “Tom Moore” Captain or Veteran. Play around with the name you have and the place where you think your friend in the UK may be living. Try inserting their profession instead. Do this check with their Spouse or children too.
Print off a small map of the UK which shows major cities and towns along with all the County boundary lines- this will really help you to establish likely areas your long lost friend could be in or may have moved to.
Sign up to as many free groups as you can on the internet using your new email address and put appeals for help in them. List the information from your brainstorming session. If you are 110% sure the person you are looking for wont feel like their privacy has been too invaded or dislike fuss- put an appeal out on social media, however- tread carefully! Many people do not like being hunting down by several thousand strangers on the web and being bombarded with messages. It might be well intentioned- but it IS invasive. Google for websites that help to reconnect old friends in the UK and join them. Please be aware that you need to check which ones are free. Not all are- and rightly so! They take a huge amount of time for people to organise and moderate along with many expenses. If you want to find your UK friend for free you have to be prepared for the long game! If times is of the essence, or you are becoming frustrated with your search- use Finder Guru People Tracers!
Do Not Forget The Hobbies
Email any groups or associations that you think your friend may be involved in and contact them. Join an online group for their favourite sports team and post in there. Be aware of time differences, so please don’t ring anyone for help without checking this first. You will be unpopular and be wasting more of your own time!
Harness Media Power
Shout about your search! If you are sure which part of the UK your friend is in think about arranging a newspaper or radio appeal. You may get lucky and find someone who will do this free of charge. We have a network of reporters built up over a long time here at Finder Guru so we know the value of media coverage and it really can help. However- you need to be able to provide them with an article or something of local interest. Otherwise it will be an ad- and they are chargeable! We often combine our appeals with another story we have worked on in the area to provide editorial for the journalist in exchange for the appeal. It really helps to have contacts!
We really hope our Top Tips will help you. We would be more than happy to search for you using the rather more extensive search facilities we have available. For 15 years we have been finding long lost family and friends in the UK and all over the globe, we have subscriptions and memberships to lots of paid sites, and a GDPR licence to access information not available to the public. Along with a huge network of supporters and media contacts.
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The Finder Gurus