The Telephone

‘…my telephone is my joy. It tells me I am in the world and wanted’
– Edward Field, source: Poetry Foundation

We are addicted to our phones, you don’t need me to tell you that. Our phones allow extensive access to everything and everyone. I believe there is still pleasure to be gained from receiving a call (and I mean a call, not a text, not a whatsapp, not a snapchat) from someone we care about.  But I have never thought anything good comes from a phone call made in the middle of the night. Everything about the Grenfell Tower tragedy is harrowing. The news that some of the telephone calls from trapped residents lasted more than an hour has haunted me, as has the knowledge that people made ‘last calls’ to the people they loved. However distressing, it made me recognise that need to hear, and be heard, ‘hungry…for the human voice’ (Edward Field again). I felt angry and ashamed that people have been allowed to live in such inadequate, dangerous housing. With so many people still missing, the grieving process is involved and complex. I know my ‘reach’ out there is slight, but I wanted to post details of a charity that can offer help and support – and is available at the end of a phone. Whether affected directly by the tragedy, or if that terrible night triggered difficult memories, The Child Death Helpline is there help to anyone affected by the death of a child ‘whether they are parents, grandparents, siblings, family members, friends or involved professionals’.

Their confidential helpline is open every day of the year.

Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm

Tuesdays 1pm to 4pm

Wednesdays 1pm to 4pm

Every evening 7pm to 10pm

Freephone on 0800 282 986 or 0808 800 6019 if calling from a mobile.

The Child Death Helpline is staffed by volunteers, all of them trained, supervised and supported by professional teams within Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust and the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. All volunteers are bereaved parents – offering that much needed connection when you are grieving, isolated and scared.  I knew one volunteer personally, in Liverpool. A Health Visitor with her own difficult story, she was dedicated to her day job – providing unerring support to me when I needed it – but was also able to give her time to the helpline. She was a good soul. She was a human voice.