A need to be loved

A need to be loved

A need to be loved

First published in Columns Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by

When I was seven, I spent an afternoon in a children’s home. It was part of my Brownie Child Minder badge.

Arriving at the cavernous Victorian house, I stepped inside to an unfamiliar smell: disinfectant and the remains of lunch. I was there early to help serve the children’s tea.

The rooms were vast, high ceilinged, and painted in bright, garish colours. They weren’t restful: they were different. They startled me.

As I stepped into the biggest room I’d ever seen, I looked around. At one end was a stage. On it was every child’s dream: a giant toyshop with everything to play for. Best of all, a lot to play with. It was only when I got closer that I realised that most of the toys were cast-offs – unwanted, grown tired of, abandoned, and shipped up here. They lay in a communal pile, everyone’s and no ones.

Next I was led to the other end of the room, where a circular table had been set up for tea. Around it were about 15 little chairs. It was like something out of Goldilocks. On the table were brightly coloured cakes, sandwiches, squash and biscuits. They were served on even brighter plastic plates. The whole effect was psychedelic. What drab planet had I been living on till then, with my parents, brother and sister?

Finally, in walked the children – in line, some holding hands. They were younger than me – probably about three or four. They pulled out their chairs and sat down. At the signal from an adult, they began to eat.

I poured the squash and walked around the table, passing sandwiches and cakes. I remember the noise, but nothing distinct said.

Then something happened. The children fell silent. The adult touched a child on the shoulder. The little girl looked around. I followed her gaze.

There, in the doorway stood a man. The girl jumped up from the table, and pushed back her chair. It fell over in the rush. Running across the room, the girl threw herself into the man’s arms.

“Dadda, dadda,” she cried.

And you know, I nearly cried too. I could cry now. Every face around the table followed the child, and lingered in the doorway. In an instant, the room fell away; the toys fell away; the tea fell away. I felt it too.

These children were hungry – but not for food. Their eyes said it all – boys as well as girls.

They longed to be that lucky child. The one who was loved, in that moment, for all to see: for herself, and no one else. The man in the doorway was special to her. Every parent has that privilege.

A social services spokesman was right, when he spoke on the radio recently: “Children’s homes can provide everything, but a child’s need to be loved.”

Rochdale may have dominated the national news, but here in Oxford, Operation Bullfinch demonstrates what may step into the void, when parents and institutions fail. Vulnerable children seek nothing more than to be loved for themselves. Well, don’t you?

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

I'm trapped in the hellish reality of cash and class war

Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

"I shall be watching Spider House... squealing and through my fingers" writes Liz Nicholls

Frighteningly good half term fun

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Liz Nicholls rounds up the best activities - many of them spooky - around the county as schools break up

Facts behind the fearsome ebola virus

Oxford Mail: Renee Watson

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

"The threat to us is low and the threat globally is less than diseases such as Malaria, TB and HIV" writes Renee Watson

Behind the scenes of political probing

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Alison Boulton digs beneath the city's dreaming spires

The grit behind the catwalk glamour

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

As Oxford Fashion Week approaches, we get a behind the scenes look at the world of modelling. Jaine Blackman reports

New generation of girl power

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Feminism is alive and well with younger women standing up for their rights. Jaine Blackman reports on how Oxford students want to spread their message wider

Mr Badger is a greedy guest

Oxford Mail: Sheena Patterson

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Sheena Patterson of Oxford Garden Design takes a look at a sometimes unwelcome visitor

Someone needs to steer the NHS

Oxford Mail: Katherine Rees

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

"Why is this massive organisation not producing lines of own brand?" writes Katherine Rees

Focus on issues that are stopping you lose weight

Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Keeping Fit with Lisa Cuerden

Discovering Denmark

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Luke Sproule finds there's much more to Denmark than Christmas jumpers and Nordic noir

Adding insult to longer hours and lower pay

Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Personal finance with Gill Oliver

You can't beat a chocolate cake

Oxford Mail: Rebecca Moore

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Rebecca Moore is Oxford Savvy

'Smoking is as cool as cancer'

Oxford Mail:

11:00am Friday 24th October 2014

Rebecca Moore hits out at celebrities who ignore the risks and perpetuate the glamorous image of cigarettes

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree