Remembering those who died on 7/7
This week marks the 17th anniversary of the 7/7 terror attack when we remember those who died that day. Our thoughts are with all the families and friends affected by the attack.
On 7 July 2005 52 people lost their lives in a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks in London. Over 700 more were injured.
On the 17th anniversary of the attacks some of our current Major Incident Responders will be at the Hyde Park memorial for the service to commemorate those who died. Anniversaries can be a difficult time for loved ones and survivors. It can also bring up difficult feelings for those affected by other disasters, major incidents and terrorist attacks. If you have been affected by this or a similar incident you can contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org for help
In the aftermath of the bombings and for months afterwards, Cruse volunteers worked shifts at the Family Assistance Centre, supporting those who had been bereaved or traumatised.
Here are two of their stories.
Louise worked in liaison with the police during our Cruse support work at Heathrow Airport following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. After the 7/7 attacks she worked alongside other agencies at the Family Assistance Centre in London.
People who came to see Cruse volunteers needed a safe space to recount their stories, their hopes and their fears. Many were experiencing survivor guilt in addition to the guilt we know to be part of the process of grief.
In the Family Assistance Centre we had space to provide privacy for people to speak on a one-to-one basis, an area big enough for family groups to sit and talk, a chapel and a place to get drinks and a snack.
My experience was that most people I saw were still in a state of shock; the anger for many came later. Denial and disbelief and dissociation were prevalent states for many. Some people had not given up hope that their loved ones would still be found alive.
Our support came from acting as witnesses to people’s experiences, being able to stay with and hold their shock, fear, pain, anger guilt and horror and sadness. We were able to reassure people who felt they were going mad, that what they were experiencing was normal in an abnormal situation.
As well as people who had been directly involved or whose family or friends had been present when the bombs detonated, I hold one young girl strongly in my mind. She had been walking to college and witnessed the bus blowing up, experienced in disbelief of her own senses, the horror of what she heard and saw. Her trust in the world she knew was wiped out, she had been left with a sense of meaningless and helplessness.
We saw many people who felt emotionally scarred by the events, their belief-systems in a safe world shattered by the explosions. There were times when I felt helpless and had to hope that by being able to make connections with me my client would be helped to connect again with themselves and the outside world.
Cruse played a part in helping with the running of the Service for Remembrance at St Paul’s Cathedral. I found the service deeply touching, a way for the nation to pay its respects and of great significance to many people. The theme of the service was light and dark symbolised by the lighting of candles which was inclusive of all faiths.
After the service people had the opportunity to talk, to laugh, to cry with each other and to begin putting their lives back together.
Christine was a volunteer in Oxfordshire, and put her name forward as soon as she heard that Cruse was needed.
Naturally after my first rush of enthusiasm I had some doubts. Would I actually be able to help anyone in the face of such tragedy, would I be good enough to do this, could I cope with hearing people’s stories?
Upon arriving at the Family Assistance Centre, my fears were allayed. It was all very well organised and each organisation such as Victim Support, Red Cross, Police Family Liaison and many more all had its own area.
Whilst I was doing one of the sessions about ten days after the bombings, a request came in for someone from Cruse to talk to a client. It was a gentleman whose brother had been killed and he was extremely distressed because he was having a lot of problems trying to get his brother’s body released so he could fly him to be buried in his homeland. It made me think – not only had the relatives and friends of people that had died or who had been injured had to cope with their loss, but also with all the legalities surrounding an incident like this. Their grief had to some extent to be put on hold until all the formal procedures had been carried out. On top of this there was the media to contend with.
I cannot speak highly enough of the way the Centre was managed and of the camaraderie of all the volunteers, not just from Cruse but from all the other organisations as well. I was so pleased to be able to ‘do my bit’ and be at the Centre.