When I first got involved with the Riot Clean Up in Manchester I never thought that it would take off the way it did. A joint facebook and twitter campaign with over 15,000 people signed up and showing their support, led to over 1000 people turning out on Wednesday morning to assist with the cleanup. Business donated food, drinks, brushes, gloves and staff. The world’s media decided to attend, as did Ed Miliband. The sheer generosity of people astounded me. The fact you all turned up on a typically wet summer’s morning to help ,driven by nothing more than a mutual love of Manchester and a sense of moral correctness, incredible.
I remember turning up at Piccadilly Gardens, brush in hand at 7:30 in the morning and thinking ‘I hope people show up’. I met with the police who pointed out that the council had done a fantastic job overnight, and they had. At shortly after 8, a lady joined me, she was concerned that she’d be the only one to turn up. I explained that I hoped that maybe 100 would turn up. Then more people showed up, then even more. By 9am there were hundreds of you. All with brushes, gloves, dustpans, bin bags, it was unbelievable. Then the staff from Manchester City Council turned up and MP’s, councillors and the media. I struggled to get my head round it. Less than 12 hours beforehand there had been windows smashed and shops looted and yet here you all were.
The day went smoothly, face painters and a unified sense of community made for an overwhelmingly happy experience. I’ve yet to hear anything negative about the day outside of ‘I wish there was more to do’. Hardly something we can be unhappy about!
I’d read various media reports throughout the riots regarding the background of those who had done so and the subsequent speculation as to their reasons. I don’t know why they did it, I don’t think anyone really does. What I do know though, is that you all came out. All ages, all religions, a variety of ethnic groups from a variety of economic backgrounds showing the true spirit of a multi-cultural Manchester.
Everyone who came out to support or posted a message or a tweet. Everyone who donated an item or time. Everyone who’s sent me a photo or a video clip, Manchester thanks you. You’ve all done yourselves proud.
The continued support of the cleanup is still going on, I’m still getting offers of help and assistance. There’ll be an announcement of a charity auction over the next few days to help some community groups. I feel like I’ve not slept for 5 days, powered by the feeling that our community is pulling together. I’d happily feel like this for the next 5 years if it meant that we could all continue to pull in the same direction.
Please send all photos, videos or if you’re a business with an item to donate to the auction please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again, Manchester.
Jeremy Myers aka @RiotCleanUpManc