I have been worrying for the last week about something, and then yet another one of those circular letters arrived. Personally addressed to me and probably hundreds of other ex-pupils of my school it reminded us that “it made me what I am today”, “it gave me everything” and then “we are launching the Bright Futures campaign…to raise £1.5m”. This at a time when insurers and the school are haggling over compensation to 10-20 people who were abused at the time of their schooling when in the school’s care.
All the focus seems to have been, quite rightly, on the ex-staff who are alive and have been brought to trial by the testimony of the abused. 6 staff have been found guilty. In my last blog I wondered whether there were other staff still out there, still working with young people who needed to be extracted from the environment where they could continue to abuse.
But my worry today, and I promise to move to more joyful blogs about playwrighting and great shows soon, is wondering about those graduates of the school who were abused whilst they were children but the ex-staff member is now dead. No justice can be brought in a trial, and their names (I suspect) are not in the school’s radar when thinking of compensation and support.
On the radio this morning I heard a military commander talking about their experiences of war, or more particularly the fact that no-one could understand what it was like if you have not been in a battle. He talked of it being indescribable. He then talked about the need for groups where those who have been through it can talk and hear from a point of shared experience. It struck me that there may be many many now grown-up “boys” and “girls” who have experiences that they cannot and have not shared with the world, and who need the same kind of help as those who are deemed the 10-20 victims of the 6 from Christ’s Hospital who are now in prison.
So I add a third question which I feel I need to ask “What is being done to encourage those who have been abused by those who have now died and never came to trial to seek help, and how can CH financially and practically help these people to live their lives?” It is a big question. Even the 6 we know about moved around schools. It is a big task to look back at all the deceased staff who have gone through one school – but it is not difficult. The school has a wonderful Blue Book which annually lists every staff member, and most people who die are easily found through tributes on Google. Someone needs to map the rumours “we all knew about x” and map them against death records, and then see where else they taught.
I will be delighted if someone in authority reading this blog says “we are doing it” “we have a compensation scheme” “we are contacting every graduated boy and girl that we have records for” And, if I were in the school’s shoes, I would refocus to this work and stop sending me and hundreds like me stuff about “Bright Futures” when first they need to clear up the dark past.
I am sorry if this is hard reading. I couldn’t understand when a close artistic friend talked about going to retreats for boarding school survivors. I admired that he was bringing this pain out. But I was a happy chappie having had a great time at school. As I have said before the rug has been pulled from under my feet. I suggest anyone holding a dark past looks at organisations like https://www.boardingschoolsurvivors.co.uk/ and then finds a way to challenge their school, and find fellow sufferers. I have not been in battle. I cannot understand. I may be making no sense to those who have been battle scarred. Please tell me if this is an unhelpful blog. I can take it down immediately.