Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Thusha: A story to shame us all

I work in Stockwell, South London. It's an area I spend most of my daylight hours in and I know it quite well having been there for over four years. It's also an area that has problems that make the challenges we have in Shepherd's Bush seem like small fry.

The last shooting we had down there involved two men on a motorbike spraying another man with a submachine gun from a passing motorbike, and you regularly see police swoop on groups of local youths who dont have much to do apart from hang around.

It's the sort of place where you kind of get used to seeing some fairly depressing stuff.

But in March last year an incident took place at one of our local shops which plumbed new depths. This was the shooting of a 5 year old little girl who was playing inside, the shop being owned by one of her family. One gang was attacking another, again with guns, and this time they just opened up inside the shop and Thusha was shot through the back, leaving her paralysed.

But this little girl was not about to accept doctors' views that she would never walk again, and BBC London today released a film which shows her taking steps with the aid of a frame. She's started back at school and tells the BBC correspondent Guy Smith that she likes maths, because she finds it easy. She wants to be a doctor.

But most of this film, inspirational though it is, also reveals something that it doesnt really go into. For sure the family are being basically let down by their Council who have not transformed their housing. But I imagine after this publicity that might rocket swiftly up Redbridge Council's priority list.

But what is really shameful, surely, is what gets passsing reference in the BBC film - that Thusha's family are only really getting the support they need because of people's fundraising efforts, such as the policemen and women who investigated the shooting, who themselves have done a sponsored mountain climb. Why on earth should this girls' family have to rely on public charity? Shouldn't they receive everything they need for the rest of her life? Wouldnt that be the mark of a civilised society?

So I asked Guy Smith this evening, who tells me that if Thusha had been a victim of a road traffic accident she would have been entitled to millions because of the involvement of insurance companies. But victims of crime are only ever entitled to a maximum of £500,000. Which is hardly a great deal when you are only 5 years old and face a lifetime of adjustments and care.

Are we really saying as a country that this is acceptable? 

You can donate to the Thusha appeal here.

No comments:

Post a Comment