Police are appealing for help tracing a student who went missing six days ago after spending the coronavirus pandemic shielding due to a medical condition.
Richard Okorogheye, 19, was last seen on Monday 22 March near the Ladbroke Grove area of west London and friends and family are becoming increasingly concerned for his safety.
His mother Evidence Joel told the MyLondon news website that Richard had recently told her he was “struggling to cope” while studying Business and IT online at Oxford Brookes University.
She also fears he had become depressed after spending so much time at home over the past year. “Richard has never done anything like this. Something has gone wrong,” Ms Joel added.
Friends have used social media to spread appeals for help tracing the teenager, who is described as 6ft tall and slim.
The appeal has been shared thousands of times, including by singer Dua Lipa, photographer Misan Harriman and author Bonnie Greer.
His mother said that Richard told her he was going to visit a friend’s house and would be back later – but he never returned home. None of his friends said they had seen him that night.
Police said he was last seen heading in the direction of Ladbroke Grove at around 8.30pm on 22 March. According to the social media appeal he was wearing a black top, black tracksuit bottoms and black trainers and carrying a small Adidas bag. He was reported missing on 24 March.
Ms Joel suggested that the Metropolitan should be doing more to trace Richard, telling MyLondon: “Richard is seen as a low risk but he’s a young adult with a health condition.”
The UK charity Missing People has previously said: “We know that Black people, and people from other ethnic minority groups, are not always getting the response they deserve when they are missing or report someone missing.”
On Sunday night the Metropolitan Police issued an appeal stating that “officers are becoming increasingly concerned” for Richard’s welfare.
Chief Inspector Clare McCarthy said: “Our officers have been working tirelessly to locate Richard, using all investigative opportunities and data enquires, speaking with witnesses and trawling CCTV.
“We are following every lead possible and are appealing for the public to help us in our work. If you may have seen Richard, please contact police.
“If Richard is safe and well, we ask him to contact us as a matter of urgency so that we can put his family’s minds at ease.”