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A call for help

by Brian Radcliffe

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5


To encourage us to consider situations in which we feel able to call for help.

Preparation and materials

  • Have available the song ‘Send for me’ by The National and the means to play it during the assembly. It is available at: (4.14 minutes long)


  1. There are many situations in which we’re encouraged to seek help. If the car we’re travelling in breaks down, we can call for roadside assistance. There are helplines such as Childline for those who are feeling under pressure or at risk. The game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has the option to phone a friend. And we all probably know how to reply to the question, ‘Who you gonna call?’ (Hopefully, the students will respond with ‘Ghostbusters!’)

  2. Ask the students whether any of them like the music of American indie rock band, The National.

    Explain that you are going to play a track from their most recent album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein. The song is called ‘Send for me’.

    As the students listen, ask them to pick out the situations in which the singer invites someone to send for him to help.

    Play the song ‘Send for me’ by The National (4.14 minutes long).

  3. Ask the students, ‘Have you ever had to leave somewhere when you didn’t really want to?’

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Ask the students, ‘Have you ever found yourself trapped among people you didn’t identify with?’

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Ask the students, ‘Have you ever tried to explain something to a group of people who don’t quite get it?’

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Ask the students, ‘Have you ever found yourself in a music venue that’s not really your style?’

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Ask the students, ‘Have there ever been times when you’ve wondered whether you’re mentally stable, or in danger of losing it?’

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    Ask the students, ‘Have you ever missed someone you once loved?’

    Pause to allow time for thought.

    I suspect there’s something in the song that each one of us identifies with. These aren’t the usual clichéd situations of being down, lonely or troubled. Most of them reach much deeper, identifying frustrations, regrets and questions of identity and sanity.

Time for reflection

The band’s vocalist, Matt Berninger, thought of his daughter as he wrote the song. It’s an obvious connection for a parent to make. He wants to be there for her as she travels through the ups and downs of life. He’s the one for her to send for.

Ask the students, ‘Who do we send for if we’re in need?’

Pause to allow time for thought.

Point out that for some of us, this might be a difficult question. Some of us may feel like we have no one to turn to. Many of us might turn to our parents or carers in certain situations, but there may be other situations where we wouldn’t want to. It might feel like a problem of generational understanding, or maybe they’re just that bit too close.

At this stage in life, we’re learning to stand on our own two feet and be independent. We want to make our own decisions as much as possible. So, who do we send for?

This is a time when close and trusted friendships are important, but our friends’ experience of life may be limited because it may not exceed our own. A mentor who’s a little older may be more helpful. However, sometimes, it can feel like there is no available option who is qualified to help us handle the big issues in life that we face.

The followers of Jesus who travelled around with him while he was on earth had the perfect foil for everything that they were bothered about. Jesus could empathize, get to the root of the matter and deal with every crisis. Jesus’ followers could always turn to him with confidence. But one day, he left.

One of Jesus’ final promises was that, after he’d left, there would be another who would continue the role of best friend and confidante. This is the Holy Spirit. Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is with us today, available to listen, interpret, encourage and help. The Holy Spirit is Jesus with us now.

Many people find that a religious philosophy or faith is important in situations when our own resources don’t seem enough. Maybe we don’t fully trust anyone with the details of our crisis. Maybe we’re embarrassed at what we’re going through. Maybe the problem appears too great for people to overcome. So, who do we send for?

Remind the students of the resources that are available to them in school. Encourage them to speak to a trusted adult in school if they feel like they have no one to turn to or need to talk to someone.


‘Send for me’ by The National, available at: (4.14 minutes long)

Publication date: October 2023   (Vol.25 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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