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Responding to news of terrorist attacks

After the Manchester Arena bombing a few weeks ago, I considered writing a post about the steps I take whenever a terrorist attack is in the news and may affect the children and young people who come to Inkpots. With 24-hour news and access to phones, children are much more aware of world events, and have concerns which need to be dealt with.

I held back though as I thought that mine is just a small voice and no-one would be that interested.

But when I woke up on Sunday morning and heard of the horrors of the London Bridge attack, I decided that I did need to speak out.

It’s sad that throughout the four and a half years that I have been running Inkpots, several atrocities have taken place which have made me feel strongly enough to post on social media. However, I struggled with knowing quite what to write (I am not a natural social media exponent) until I saw a post from Maastricht University following the Paris attacks in November 2015.

My elder son is a lecturer at the university and was taking part in a Masters’ Degree information event that day. The university uses social media a lot on such occasions but a decision was taken to post just once to express sympathy, and then to remain silent for the rest of the day as a mark of respect.

This seemed to me to be a very dignified response and helped me shape a strategy I have followed ever since.

  • Whenever I hear news like that of the London Bridge attack, I try to stop any scheduled social media posts due to go out that day. It isn’t always possible so the occasional one may slip through.
  • I will then post a message of sympathy – I think the saddest thing is that I have photographs stored on my laptop and phone just for such occasions.
  • I then don’t post anything for the rest of the day. Life does – and must – go on but this just marks a pause, and a chance to just step back and reflect for a few hours.
  • I will also ensure I know the facts so that I will be ready to talk with any children at Inkpots who are concerned about the latest attacks, when I see them or hear from them.
  • The next day, I return to posting as usual – but with a grittier determination to make a difference. I lived in London during the IRA bombings in the 1970s and ‘8os. I heard the Hyde Park bomb go off. I know how important it is to not be deterred by such events and carry on with our lives.

This is a small gesture but I think it is so important to do something. I also feel I represent all the children who come to our live or online workshops – and all of what we do is underpinned with kindness and support.

I felt the need to contact both my sons on Sunday morning to touch base. I expect many of our Inkpots children got extra hugs too. And that is the answer; strong, independent, balanced young people who will stand up to fundamentalism and hatred.

 

Gill

 

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