It was 5:58pm on a Friday night and the summer sun was shining, my phone 'pinged', so I looked.
There it was, an email from a Local Authority Placement Team looking for a bed for a vulnerable 9 year old girl*.
I paused and mentally went through the available places I have.
I can't help.
Sometimes I un pause and carry on without a thought but not tonight.
Something kept me on pause. I started to play out what was really happening in the life of a 9 year old girl, perhaps sat in a social care office, all the staff gone home for the weekend except one Social Worker looking for a safe place.
Calls being made to available carers with the matching criteria becoming less and less important as the list of Local Authority carers was exhausted.
Then they send out an email to the independent fostering agencies, increasingly desperate to find a safe place for a 9 year old girl at 6pm on a Friday night.
I couldn't shake the feeling, it hung over me like a cloak.
I purposefully did not imagine any of my children in the place of that 9 year old girl. I have a place inside me I keep the really crappy stuff and that imagining was put straight there before it was even allowed to form and develop.
I thought of that Social Worker, maybe it was their duty day, maybe the phone rang at 5 minutes to 5 and they caught this 'problem'. Maybe they had a family to go home to, plans and hopes for a summer evening in with loved ones. That was all laid aside.
I read so much about what Social Workers should be doing and how they should do it, critical voices. I'm pretty sure few of those loud voices know what it's like to find a safe place for a little girl on a Friday night when the whole world wants to enjoy the sunshine.
I re read the referral today. I'm not sure I want to be sort of Social Worker that un-pauses and moves on.
*Of course I changed the details.