A difficult topic…..

When bad things happen in the world it can be difficult enough to talk about them to our friends and family, let alone to the people we support who may not understand fully or could be affected by darkness more deeply than the general public. The temptation is definitely there to shelter people. Switch off the news, avoid talking about it, close the curtains and pretend that bad things don’t happen. However, the media makes that impossible, it’s on the radio, the television, people talk about it in Tesco’s when you do the weekly shop. The simple fact is you can’t cover up every bad thing that happens in the world.

Over the past few weeks the UK has been faced with two prominent terrorist attacks and it’s hard to know where to start with explaining that when I barely understand it myself. I didn’t want to upset the people I support but equally I didn’t want to hide away from the truth of it either. So, how to tackle this?

It was only at the beginning of this year that I became Frontline Manager at Watling Street where we support Terri-Ann and Joanne so I am still getting to know these two wonderful ladies. It’s been a great experience and I have grown to care for both of them deeply. Other than the death of a pet snail I’ve not had to deal with any sadness so far in my role, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when dealing with something so delicate; I wasn’t sure I had even processed it all.

Fortunately the answer came in the form of a concert, put on by the brave Ariana Grande and several other international artists. We made an evening of it, all sitting together in the lounge. I didn’t know what to expect; I wasn’t sure if there would be tears or confusion or difficult questions. What I was certain of however was that Watling Street is united in a love of music, dancing and singing and this seemed perfect. Joanne was already planning to watch it in fact and Terri-Ann was sold on the idea when I mentioned some of the artists taking part.

As it turns out I had no reason to be nervous and I was touched by the resilience of Terri-Ann and Joanne. They sang along, they laughed and they were touched by the moments of closeness shown by some of their favourite singers. They listened closely to the messages given. At one point we were all holding hands, telling each other just how much we all cared for one another. Truly it was a special evening.

I learnt several valuable lessons about how to tackle these difficult topics with these two ladies. The first was, don’t shy away from it and take it head on. The second was probably the more prominent; Watling Street is so full of love and kindness that even a great tragedy can’t shake the bonds. The staff team do a wonderful job of keeping this atmosphere in all that they do, warmth really is at the heart of everything that happens in this home. I never in my wildest dreams thought a barbaric act of terrorism could bring all of us closer together but that is just what has happened. It really was the rainbow at the end of the storm.

“So don’t look back in anger”

Roxanne Cooper
Frontline Manager
Withington, Milton Keynes

Comments

  • Kirsty Peachey says:

    Thanks Roxanne for sharing your story and the lessons you have learnt with Joanne and Terri-Ann.

  • Tanya May says:

    Thanks Roxanne – such a great blog. It’s so nice that you had the opportunity to be able to turn this into such a positive experience for all of you involved. Thanks for sharing!

  • Carol Davison says:

    Touching Blog Roxanne. It just goes to show that in the face of adversity how bonds can remain strong and unbroken. Communication and touch was obviously very evident as everyone was able to express and demonstrate their own personal feelings. Well done to you all for dealing with this in a sensitive way.

  • Kate Webb says:

    This blog has been written in such a sensitive and caring way. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it, it must have been quite difficult to do. Your two ladies sound wonderful strong women!

  • Emma Killick says:

    What a fabulous blog Roxanne!
    I absolutely agree that the temptation to shy away from painful or difficult conversations is really strong but we can’t do that. What we can do is think about how to approach these conversations with compassion and while not underplaying the seriousness there are positives to focus on which you managed to find.
    I also watched and saw in Ariana Grande an amazing and inspiring role model for young people like Joanne and Terri-Ann!

  • Jeremy Bugden says:

    Roxanne, thank you for sharing these lovely comments about how you handled the sharing of bad news with Terri-Ann and Joanne. I completely agree with the view that we share ALL news whenever appropriate, especially things happening right on our doorstep. It is always worth, as you seemed to have done so well; trying to “place ourselves in the shoes of others” and imagining how out of touch and not included we would feel hearing others (whether at the bus stop, College or Waitrose) talk about world or everyday affairs we maybe know nothing about.

    A tenderly head on approach is so often the best approach. Despite one girl band being rather scantily clad the concert was thoughtfully put together by Ariana with a lovely message of “through darkness there’ll always be light and love conquers everything.” I thought Justin Bieber’s words were great. We need to remember your reminder of “not looking back in anger”.

  • Jakub Potmesil says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post Roxanne! I’ve been sitting here for a while thinking what to write, but I think you’ve said it all. Powerful stuff.

  • Patsy Deacon says:

    What a lovely Blog, you are so right in saying that the temptation is to stick your head in the sand and wait for everything to go away… but the reality is that we need to process these dreadful event and support individuals to understand that by working together something positive can happen…

  • Tess Marshall says:

    Great blog post Roxanne, so pertinent to everything happening today, and a reminder that we can hold everything in balance, the good as well as the evil.

  • Craig Dougan says:

    Hi Roxanne. What a touching blog. I was in the Manchester arena when Ariana Grande had just finished her concert and the attack happened. I was also at the one love Manchester concert so I was really touched by this blog. It’s amazing to see that yourselves and the people you support came together that evening and celebrated with music, warmth and compassion and I felt those emotions being there that Sunday evening with my friends. Unfortunately all of us are now exposed to these atrocities and the way you all came together is just wonderful. Thank you

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