Home Articles A Visiting Fireman in Africa A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Eighteen
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Eighteen Print E-mail
Written by Ray Critchell   
Sunday, 05 July 2009 23:37
Article Index
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four
Page Five
Page Six
Page Seven
Page Eight
Page Nine
Page Ten
Page Eleven
Page Twelve
Page Thirteen
Page Fourteen
Page Fifteen
Page Sixteen
Page Seventeen
Page Eighteen
Page Nineteen
Page Twenty
All Pages

It only rarely happened during my time but on a few occasions one parent has murdered the other leaving several very traumatise little ones to be cared for. The heads of local schools or day nurseries will ring in with reports of children coming in with suspicious bruises or other injuries. These [non accidental injuries] must be dealt with as a priority since child protection is a statutory responsibility. This can leave a number of irate people waiting to be seen, and having a go at the Social worker left behind who is now coping with a double work load

Often anxious neighbours will ring in to say they have not seen Mr or Mrs so and so for a while. As soon as you can fit it in, you visit the house. If, after getting no response and after making such enquiries as you can, you ask for police attendance [Social workers are not authorised to break in], enter with the police and find Mr or Mrs so and so has been dead inside the house for some while. In a few well publicised cases the unfortunate person had been there for several weeks. The moral here I guess is to be a good neighbour and keep a look out for people living alone.

There are social workers from the local team based at Hospitals and an enormous amount of liaison work is done here with the need to set up home support or residential care arrangements for frail, handicapped or elderly patients being discharged. They also get quite a few cases of non accidental injuries presenting at the A & E departments, often with weird and wonderful accounts as to how little Freddy got himself covered with cigarette burns, or broke his arm for the second time that month. The hospital colleagues also deal with a lot of abortion counselling and drug overdose cases amongst teenagers.

On Fridays, it is not unknown for a very peeved mum to burst into the duty office minutes before closing time, dragging an unwilling and loudly protesting child along which she throws at the duty officer saying 'you keep the little bleeder, I've 'ad enough' and then legs it at high speed. If you are not quick enough you can end up spending Friday evening arranging temporary foster care for the child, plus another mountain of paper work, instead of going home as planned to sit quietly in the garden with an end of the week pint.

The mother may reappear on the following Monday morning insisting that you immediately release her poor little child back into her loving home.

Out of the many thousands of referrals that come into social work departments each week, occasionally one will go disastrously and very publicly wrong. Usually with tragic results for a small child. We all try to learn the lessons that such events bring to light but have to face the facts that we are not perfect. Social Work then goes through a very bad patch and as a measure of how we are sometimes seen by the community in which we work and live, a well known comedian of the time got a huge laugh and prolonged applause when during his TV act he quipped, 'How do you make a London child happy? Kill a Social Worker' Not a pleasant time for someone just embarking on a new career.