Well, it’s my chance to become a blogger!
Sharon has a calendar clash, and reluctantly agrees that even she can’t be in two places at once. We had planned to meet Dr Neil Kennedy for a guided tour of the One Stop Centre for victims of abuse, supported by SI Kenilworth in the past through FOSCiM. Neil is justifiably very proud of it.
However, Sharon has managed to arrange to link up with SI Blantyre for a business meeting at the same time! For some reason, she thought it preferable for her to go to the Soroptimist meeting, leaving me to visit the One Stop Centre.
Neil and I escape from the mid-morning heat and step into the welcoming foyer. We are welcomed by Lucy, a very friendly and motherly nurse who is the first contact for the often distressed young abuse victims on arrival.
As I am shown around, I see a relaxing environment – there are comfortable settees and armchairs in one room, and another room has a colourful carpet, and lots of toys for younger victims. On one wall is a large one-way mirror, so that sessions can be observed without intimidating the victim, and may in future be video-recorded. Next I am shown a spotless examination room and a nice en-suite shower room.
These are the services available from the centre:
- Nursing staff and a doctor handle the medical/clinical issues such as testing and if necessary treatment of HIV, as well as collection of evidence – photographs and specimens
- Community Child Protection Worker from the District Social Welfare Office
- Full time volunteer counsellor provided by Fountain of Life
- Community Policing from the Victims Support Unit
A template form is completed for each case, ensuring all the information / evidence needed is collected, which means that the poor victim only needs to tell their story once. All in all, an impressively holistic approach! Up to 30 victims are seen each month, and numbers are increasing as awareness levels are raised – the centre only opened in February 2013. Three quarters of the time the offenders are people who have gained trust of the child over a period of time. The grooming process encourages secrecy, making it hard for the child to speak out about the acts.
After the visit to the One Stop Centre, I go to the Paediatric Department Store Room, where Sharon had offered our services – sorting, tidying and cataloguing the stock of medication. Joanna, a nurse from Birmingham Childrens Hospital has started the task, but as we are pharmacists we volunteered to take over. Sharon is still swanning around with SI Blantyre, so I get stuck in on my own. Three hours later, just as I am finishing shelf stacking, I get a phone call from Sharon, so drag her in to help to catalogue the stock, including expiry dates as some things are very short-dated.
Once the list is completed, I have one last job. I am off to Orthopaedics to present Robster with a bottle of cold beer promised to him by Gordon Cowie of FOSCiM. I catch him in his office, just before he leaves for a well earned holiday.