Community

This isn’t an HR post (they haven’t been lately but I’ll get back to that).

On Friday I received a text from my OH telling me ‘the police are at the twins house’. The twins live two doors down from us – we’re in a small row of terraces- they’re in their mid-late 70s and whilst not quite identical are rarely seen apart so we know them as Jim and Jeff but I’m always confused which is which.

Life went on and we thought nothing of it. But the Saturday came and went then Sunday and we hadn’t seen them, their washing had been on the line since Friday and their windows upstairs were open.

We knocked in the door, no reply. Asked the neighbour in between but he’d heard nothing. We were worried but they were fit and ok and often went away for a few days.

Monday came – no change no movement. We talked it through. Yes they went away but they would usually tell us or next door to keep an eye out. And they would never go away without taking the washing in, closing the windows, mowing the lawn. They’ve no other family – the house they lived in was their Mothers which they inherited when she passed away.

Maybe Jim was ill. He’d been ill last year and was in the L&D for a few months. What could/should we do?

We decided Tuesday morning that we’d go to the police station that evening – it might be nothing, they might just send us away but we knew we had to do something.

We told the police what we knew – why we were worried and that we just didn’t know what to do. After about 45 minutes we got the sad news that Jeff had passed away the previous Friday and that the police visit had been them informing Jim. They would go round and check on Jim that evening.

About 2 hours later two policemen turned up – they tried to see in but no joy so eventually came through ours, over the fences and forced entry. No sign of Jim. Some unopened post but nothing concerning or worrying. They secured the house and told us that unfortunately as he was an adult there was nothing more to do. Just advised us to keep an eye out and keep in contact of we needed to.

Some relief but still very worried we called it a night.

At 1.45am there was a knock at the door, the police – two different officers – wanted to have another look in case he’d come home. So through the back again, over the fence. He hadn’t but this time they asked more questions – where did he drink, did he have any other friends. They took away a photo (asking us to confirm it was him) and said they’d keep in touch.

I don’t know what happened or changed in those hours between the first and last visit but I’m glad that it did.

We got another call at 7.30am – they’d found Jim. He was in a hospital about. 20 miles away. They couldn’t tell us anymore but he was ok.

I’m relieved, I’m sad, I’m concerned.

I’m angry we waited 4 days. But I’m also pleased that we stepped out of our own world and took action.

I’m pleased that Bedfordshire Police responded so well and were so helpful.

I’m pleased we know where Jim is and that he’s safe.

I’m pleased to know our neighbours, I’m pleased we both say hello to those that live around us, that we talk to them, look out for each other and have a small community.

I don’t know what will happen next, we’ll head up to the hospital and see what we can do. We might not be able to see him – but what then? What if there really is no other family what do we do? Social services maybe? I don’t know. What I know is that we will do something. I just wish we’d done it sooner.

Time to live

A friend of mine died on Monday night. She was 37. We knew it was coming, she was told about 15 months ago that this time the cancer was incurable and she had 1-3 years.

She embraced life. She fulfilled some dreams, spent time with friends and family and battled and battled and battled.

Even though she was in hospital for the last 10 days and was unable to speak or eat and was slipping away her actual passing was still a blow. The cliches are right – it’s a terrible waste of life.

My reaction to finding out (in that horrible modern way via social media – I don’t blame her partner, who would want to phone all those people and he’s been brilliant at keeping us updated since she became unable to do so herself) was initially shock and then, well, life. I bought a dress with unicorns on, left the office at a sensible time, baked scones.

And here the next day I have an energy that’s been missing for a while. I’m still here. I have this opportunity to do more – it’s time to live. So I’m going to. I hope you do too.

(Kate had some great help in the last few years from some brilliant organisations but particularly Overgate Hospice – if you’d like to help someone else benefit from the brilliant work they do please donate here – UPDATE: there’s a problem with the Overgate page right now, not sure what it is but I’ll update the link when I do –  14/05/14)