Rory slept badly that night. Try as he might, he just could not stop his mind turning over the events of the last few weeks at the home and work through all the things he’d done with the children. He’d got off to sleep OK, he was exhausted when he went to bed and sleep came easily, but having woken up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night he hadn’t manage to drop back off.
Unbeknown to Rory, our minds are most active in the middle of the night and that was exactly what he was experiencing. When he eventually got up, he was on autopilot for the first few minutes, going through his normal morning hygiene routine before he went down to get some breakfast and see mum. She’d made him a coffee. She knew he’d need to be alert for the meeting when his boss popped in and knew it’d be likely he hadn’t slept.
Rory had hardly had more than a couple of mouthfuls when there was a knock on the door. He got up and went to answer it. It was his boss, he looked a little uncomfortable too, or so it seemed to Rory. He liked his boss. He was welcoming and supportive at work. Rory invited him in and they went and sat at the dining table.
‘Hi Rory,’ he said, ‘I hope your as well as can be expected. Normally I’d have had this conversation with you in the office, however I could see you weren’t in any state to hear me. I’m very sorry to bring this into your home on an official level.’
Rory just nodded.
Rory’s boss told him about the allegation. Which child had made it and how it would proceed. He was not allowed to talk to anyone from the home, including children and staff. He was not allowed to go any where near the home until the investigation was finished. He made sure Rory understood the process. He also assured him that in almost all cases, the member of staff was found to have acted appropriately, but with safeguarding as it was, they had to investigate what a child said. There was obviously a reason why they were in care in the first place. Did Rory understand that too.
Again, Rory just nodded.
Rory’s boss then asked him if he felt capable of discussing the incident now. Rory said, ‘yes’. He definitely wanted to know.
It was the evening where Freddie was trying to get food from the food store, where all the sweets and foods that are not appropriate for general eating are stored. Because it was Freddies birthday there was also a knife in there and matches. Rory had had to gently support her to prevent her from entering the store. She knew she wasn’t allowed in without expressly given permission. There wasn’t enough room to actually move someone out and she’d used her foot on the door to prevent her being guided out. She used her elbows as weapons and tried to bite Rory. An uneasy stalemate had existed until another member of staff had entered the scene at which point Freddie had started shouting how unhappy she was and that she didn’t like being touched and she would make an allegation. Rory’s colleague had said, that was fine and that was her choice.
Freddie had then left the store with a waffle. Rory and his colleague had filled in the daily logs and carried on with their day and thought no more about it.
That was two days ago. Rory hadn’t even thought any more about it. It was just a normal part of the day.
He explained to his boss his account of what had happened. They made a written report which he signed and then his boss, after saying he would be in touch as soon as possible, and not to worry, if he could, left.
‘I didn’t do anything’, he later said to his mum. ‘Freddie can be a vindictive little madam’. It’s rubbish.’
He loved his job, but was just beginning to realise why there was so much paperwork. It was to protect, or safeguard, the staff just as much as the children. The staff are quite vulnerable.
‘Rory’, said mum, ‘I’ve had quite a lot of time on my hands whilst I’ve been unemployed. I’ve been on social media quite a lot. I’ve been reading the content of a bloke called Simon. His content is about ‘Slowing’ the mind, and how to mange yourself in difficult situations. I think you should have a look. He also runs outdoor experiences called ‘The View Over the Wall Experience. I think you should have a look at his stuff. If you wanted to go on one then I think we should find the money and try it out. Have a look.’
‘One of his phrases is ‘those who need me the most, want me the least.’ That was us till two days ago.’
Simon Pollard Urban Countryman. December 2023.