Big World Small Boat

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When Friends And Family Are Needed Most

‘Well, if she’s not going to call me I’m not going to waste my time calling her.’ Have you ever taken that position with a friend or family member you’ve not heard from in some time? Apparently it’s the position that was taken by the family and friends of Joyce Vincent.

The relationship with her partner had become untenable. Suffering from increasing incidents of domestic violence, Joyce took the frightening first-steps into the unknown. She sought help from a local charity, designed to help protect people -women, men, and children, who are seeking refuge from the mental and physical torment that can engulf relationships involving domestic abuse.

Joyce was only 38 years old when she first sought help. The charity located emergency housing for her, a small one-room flat in a secret location. Her Majesty’s government helped in subsidising part of the rent, the charity covered the remainder. It was a time when Joyce must have been in the direst of emotional turmoil.

The fundamentals of psychology would tell us that Joyce would have been experiencing a range of emotions; A combination of relief mixed with fear, as well as a feeling of shame, whether founded or not, would most likely be part of her psychological composite. Very often victims of domestic abuse have difficulty with their self-esteem and can often believe they’re responsible for invoking the incidents of abuse.

It would have been a time when more than ever; Joyce would have needed the support of family and friends. But instead, Joyce was forgotten about. No one came to offer a friendly ear or to check on her well-being. No neighbours, no support team from the charity, and certainly no members of her family came to check on her.

This week a housing officer brought a locksmith to force open Joyce’s door. Joyce wasn’t paying the difference in the rent that was being paid by the government and charity. She had accumulated a large debt and the housing officer was there to evict her. Joyce had not made a contribution to her rent for over two years! And the countless demands for payment had gone unanswered.

Joyce was at home. They found her in her small single bed. The heat was on, as was the television. There was a small plastic bowl that contained her laundry that she had set to soak. Around Joyce’s bed were several unopened Christmas presents. They had come from family members. The mail had been unopened and the housing officer had to forcefully open the door, due to the mountain of mail at the other side.

But now Joyce would have been forty years old. She had died two years ago. All of the food items in the fridge and cabinets had expiry dates from 2004. And her skeletal remains had decomposed to such an extent that it’s impossible to determine an actual cause of death.

Joyce found the bravery to seek help from strangers. And it would appear that the charity did precisely what it had been set up to do. It found her a place to stay. And throughout the process, for the past two years, everyone involved did precisely what their job descriptions required.

Unfortunately however, everyone involved, or not involved in this case, forgot to realise that there was a human life in the equation; A frightened, vulnerable, and lost individual who desperately needed something that job descriptions, manuals, government grants, and slick, well-oiled charity campaigns simply didn’t provide - demonstrable human compassion.

Shame on us!

Big World Small Boat.

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