‘Harrowing’ scenes as Afghan refugees arrive at Manchester Airport ‘bewildered and exhausted’
‘There was a lady there who, as her children lay on the floor sleeping on a blanket, wept quietly. She didn’t know where her husband was.’
Throughout the last week, hundreds of refugees fleeing the war-torn country of Afghanistan have been arriving and preparing for their new lives here in Manchester.
After the Taliban took full control of the country earlier this month, the UK government vowed to take in more than 20,000 Afghan refugees over the coming years, with many of the immediate arrivals being housed in hotels near Manchester Airport.
It was understood that as of last week, the three undisclosed hotels housing the 1,000 refugees here in Manchester were at max capacity.
Sobering photos taken by the Red Cross have shown the moment refugees – adults and children alike – took their first steps on British soil.
Across the week, children were met with a warm welcome by various Red Cross volunteers, who were all waiting armed with cuddly toys and colouring books as a friendly and welcoming gesture.
Many of the children were wearing the same clothes they had boarded the flight in days earlier, while some babies were still wearing the same nappies. Many were visibly cold in the unfamiliar Manchester climate.
Ru Shepherd, an emergency response volunteer assisting with the arrivals at Manchester Airport with the Red Cross, recalled how quiet the passengers were as they arrived, saying the atmosphere in the terminal was ‘sombre.’
She told the Manchester Evening News: “We were there to make sure they knew they were safe, to provide fluids and food and give them a change of clothes. It could be as simple as a bottle of water and some socks and shoes. Some had been in their clothes for up to three days.
“They were bewildered, exhausted. Everyone, including the children, were so placid and grateful. They were so very polite and just grateful.
“They were told what would happen next and where they would go – because they had no idea. They didn’t even know which part of England they were in.”
Ru detailed how there were some ‘really poorly people’ arriving at the terminal throughout the week, as well as some ‘very new babies.’
She explained: “Really small babies and their cries were not like anything I had heard. Very meek. It was like a cat meowing.”
Ru also recalled the overwhelming sense of sadness in the airport, saying she saw a woman ‘weeping quietly’ next to her sleeping children, adding: “She didn’t know where her husband was.
“It’s still on my mind. As team members we’ve all been reaching out to each other to make sure we’re okay. It’s a harrowing thing to witness and be part of.”
For more information on how you can help the refugees fleeing Afghanistan, visit the following links:
British Red Cross
United Nation Refugee Agency
Woman tragically dies in Manchester petrol station incident
Emergency services attended the scene but the woman was sadly confirmed dead
An elderly woman has died following a crash at a petrol station in Manchester.
Officers believe the woman, who was in her 70s, suffered a medical episode while at the wheel of her car when she crashed into a small brick wall.
She had been trying to drive the Nissan Micra off the forecourt of the Asda petrol station in Moston Lane, Harpurhey, at approximately 10.45am on Wednesday, March 22nd.
Emergency services attended the scene but the woman was sadly confirmed dead. Greater Manchester Police have appealed for any witnesses to help them.
A section of stretch of road, near the junction with Rochdale Road, was closed for a number of hours while emergency services dealt with the incident. Paramedics and two air ambulances were seen.
Anyone with information or on the forecourt at the time of the incident should contact police on 0161 856 4741 quoting log 1103-22/3/2023.
Information can also be reported online or by using the LiveChat function at www.gmp.police.uk. If you can’t report online, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
‘Postbox to heaven’ now installed at Greater Manchester crematorium
Such a lovely idea!
A postbox allowing people to send letters to their loved ones in heaven has now been installed at a Greater Manchester crematorium.
The white and gold Royal Mail letterbox can be found at Howe Bridge crematorium in Atherton, Wigan Borough. It was the idea of nine-year-old Matilda Handy who wanted to send a letter to her late grandparents to help her cope with the grief of her loss.
The first was set-up at Gedling Crematorium, near Nottingham, and proved a popular concept with over 100 letters and cards posted within its first few weeks. Speaking to Granada Reports, Matilda’s mother Leanne, who is Gedling Crematorium’s Memorial Advisor, said: “She was four when my mum died, and never met my dad.
“Now the postbox is in place, I am so pleased that local people are using it, and taking some comfort from it, as another way of feeling connected to their loved ones.”
UK crematorium and cemetery operator, Westerleigh Group is now rolling out the postboxes across all of its sites.
Lindsey Edwardson, Site Manager at Howe Bridge Crematorium, said: “Feedback has shown that the process of writing a letter, or perhaps a birthday card, to a lost loved one has already brought therapeutic comfort to many people.
“Now, the communities in and around our crematorium can do the same thing. No address or stamps are required on any of the letters or cards. This is just another way in which we can provide emotional support to local families.”
A post on the Howe Bridge Crematorium Facebook page read: “We are proud to announce the official opening of our Letters to Heaven Post Box. Our thanks go to Alison Regan Civil Funeral Celebrant for her beautiful service to commemorate its opening.
“For all those who wish, you can post a letter to your loved ones that are no longer with us at the Post Box.”
Woman with undiagnosed brain tumour had to visit doctors nine times to get scan
Doctors told her if she had not had the surgery within a few hours or days then it could have been a different story
A woman with an undiagnosed brain tumour who was told ‘we don’t give out brain scans to 24-year-olds willy nilly’ is now campaigning for change.
Claudia Laird, from Burnley, went to see a medical professional on nine occasions as she tried to get to the bottom of why she felt so unwell. One week later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Claudia told ITV Granada Reports: “I think the initial reaction was trusting of the GP. I was in shock after, because I found out I definitely needed that brain scan.
“It was all quite quick – they weren’t sure what was on the brain at first. It was all up in the air.
“I can’t believe I went through that. We were just waiting for the doctors to tell us the outcome. It was challenging, but more so looking back on it now. At the time, you don’t know the outcome.”
Claudia was experiencing symptoms of confusion, hallucinations and fatigue. But doctors put it down to what they thought to be gastroenteritis. After discovering the tumour, Claudia had to then undergo an eight-hour operation.
Doctors told her if she had not had the surgery within a few hours or days then it could have been a different story. She said: “I was asleep all the time. My friends would call me lazy. I thought it was because I was working long hours.
“I walked into a window thinking it was a door. I spent a night in bed with my mum and dad because I was hallucinating.”
Claudia is now training to be a paediatrician, to give people the same level of care. After the difficulty she had in getting diagnosed, Claudia has decided she does not want the same mistakes to happen to someone else.
Claudia said: “We need everybody to understand the difficulty of getting that diagnosis. It took me over nine times to get that diagnosis. I went to opticians, GP and A&E just to push to say ‘I really don’t think something is right here’.
“I want to see some changes, some research, funding into brain tumours. 1% of cancer research goes into brain tumours.”
The NHS lists the symptoms of a brain tumour as:
- seizures (fits)
- persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness.
- mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality.
- progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
- vision or speech problems.