Had a call from the police to attend an address where they had been called following a ‘domestic incident’. I duly turned up, closely followed by a crew, to be met by two uniformed officers. They had been called by Cheryl, a young mum of 23, who had received ‘threatening’ phone calls from her partner, who was not at the address. The officers were concerned as it appeared that Cheryl had taken an overdose. The house, it has to be said, was in pandemonium; three young children running around screaming and shouting, and perched on the sofa, a middle aged woman, bottle feeding a baby, and f-ing and blinding for all she was worth. I made the mistaken assumption that this was Cheryl’s mum. Wrong. This was a neighbour, nicely pickled, who had somehow assumed the role of nurse to the baby.
The female officer took Cheryl aside so that they could talk away from the chaos. Turns out Cheryl had indeed taken an overdose; a generous handful of ‘happy pills’. The baby was only 3 weeks old and although Cheryl maintained that she’d taken the pills because she was fed up with all the hassle from her partner we all wondered whether this was a case of postnatal depression. However Cheryl wasn’t going to hospital. She was convinced if she left the children they’d be taken into care. Was there a chance she could stay at home? I gave those nice people at Toxbase a call just to see what the likely result of this overdose would be. Sadly, given the amount she’d taken, we were looking at a steady deterioration of progressive drowsiness ultimately leading to unconsciousness. She really needed to go in.
So who was going to look after the children? No, she wasn’t having that little sh*t of a partner come and take care of them. Mum was no help, they hadn’t spoken for ages. Dad had disappeared years ago. No sisters, no brothers. There was, possibly, a neighbour who might help but they’d had a falling out the other day so probably not. I popped over the road anyway, just to have a word.
“Not likely. I’m not helping that old bitch. It’s all her own fault anyway.”
OK, bad idea. Plan ‘B’ then, whatever that was. Back to the house. The old soak on the sofa was continuing to berate all and sundry; the kids were still running amok; chaos reigning supreme. Someone, I have no idea who, mentioned that there was a young girl outside who might be able to help. Who? Where? I checked outside again and a young girl duly appeared. Seems her mum had sent her over to offer her baby-sitting services should they be required.
Excellent! Problem solved.
The neighbour eventually trotted over. Yes, she’d be happy to help and she stepped into the lounge. Well, talk about neighbourly support! The lush in the lounge then verbally laid into this new neighbour saying how hopeless she was and how she, the pickled protagonist, was the only one helping Cheryl. I left the two of them locking horns whilst I went to break the ‘good’ news to Cheryl and my colleagues that we had a baby-sitter and Cheryl could safely go to hospital.
We had to ask the officers to ‘kindly’ extract the baby away from the original neighbour and escort her from the premises. One of my colleagues took care of the baby and expressed concern that it didn’t really look that well. Although the kiddie was only 3 weeks old, it had been born 5 weeks prematurely, so technically it wasn’t even a full term baby. It looked pale, no real sparkle in her eyes and a load of gunky ‘eye bogies’ in one eye that looked supiciously like conjunctivitis. The baby was taken to hospital as well.
I had to wonder how on earth Cheryl was coping; 4 children, one a prem baby; no support from a partner; no support from her family. In fairness the children did seem fairly happy. The house was clean even if it was a chaotic mess; beds made, cloths clean, washing up all done.
Where is the support for such families? And where do you get immediate assistance when Mum has to go away in an emergency? I really don’t know. Luckily we could pass the buck onto the police on this occasion but its not actually their problem.
I hope Cheryl’s back home now and getting some help both caring for the children and in coping with her depression.