Jacqui Putnam

Jacqui Putnam: What Survivors for Peace means to me

February 25, 2014 | admin

Jacqui Putnam is a survivor of the Edgware Road train bombing on 7th July 2005.  Jacqui became involved with the Foundation in 2008 and has participated in many activities, including sharing her experiences with professionals who respond to major emergencies.

On the morning of 7th July 2005 I had a normal life. After 8.51am nothing was ever going to be normal again. Not for me, not for other survivors, not for the families of the 52 people who died and not for the emergency workers who came to rescue us on the day.

We were rescued three times: first, by the emergency services on the day; second, by Brent Bereavement Services headed by Paulo Pimentel; third, when the funding finally trickled to a close and Paulo, determined not to leave us adrift, contacted the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace.

They say that, when you’re drowning, the third time you go under is the last. The Foundation reached out and yanked us aboard, and we held on gratefully, dragging our broken lives with us, bewildered but desperate to put the pieces back together and, somehow, get beyond just existing to find a new ‘normal’.

I’d been a hard-working commuter, mother, grandmother. A charity-supporting, tax-paying fully-engaged member of my community. At 8.51 on the morning of 7/7 my life broke and I didn’t know how to continue.

The shock wave from the blast travelled further than its immediate surroundings. It blasted through my daughters’ lives and all the way to South Carolina to traumatise my sister and her family. My close friends reeled from it. It blasted through my office to affect my work colleagues.

The Foundation ran Living with Trauma days designed to help us to understand the ripple effect and how to manage it, where we could share and learn how to take control of our lives again.  Encouraged by the Foundation I attended conferences in Europe to learn how other countries support survivors and the bereaved from terrorist activity. (The UK lags far behind.)

Then I learned how to give back. Through the Foundation I spoke at a conference for the emergency services; with priests, vicars and rabbis concerned about how to help flood victims in their communities. I met with others traumatised by other terrorist activity, civilians and young soldiers returned from war, and older soldiers whose wars were many years ago. I spoke at a conference for the emergency services and took part in days designed to teach care-givers and community leaders how to deal with mass casualty situations, from the survivor perspective. I spoke with 9/11 emergency services survivors and a young woman whose mother died on the first plane that crashed into the twin towers. I spoke with survivors and bereaved families from the Madrid bombing.

The Foundation has created a new ripple effect. They are bringing more and more people back from the brink of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder oblivion to a life worth living, and they are teaching more and more communities how to do what they do. If we take that away, there’ll be nothing. There is no other organisation with their specialist knowledge and breadth of experience waiting to step in. There is no government department with the willingness or the expertise to support and teach communities in the long term how to deal with –and recover from – trauma.

The Foundation continues to provide help and support. Each year, on the 7th July, they help us to organise our memorial event in Hyde Park. Survivors and bereaved families travel from as far away as Australia to attend. People unable to be there in person say they receive comfort from knowing it’s happening. We gather to remember our 52 silent friends, to lay flowers and give thanks, to send a message to the world that the bombers did not succeed. It’s an opportunity for healing and to check how everyone is coping.

Eight and a half years on, I’ve gained perspective and a new ‘normality’. It isn’t what it was – there’s unspeakable horror in it – but it’s my normality and I’m functioning and grateful to be here.

 Now I’m strong enough to help others so I do, whenever I’m asked. And there will be others. There can be no doubt of that. Sadly, there will be many others, yet to come but I feel that, because of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, there is hope.

 Jacqui Putnam

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