Volunteers praised for cleaning streets of Manchester hours after looting and rioting

By Joshua Powling, Senior Political Correspondent

Shoppers witnessed extraordinary scenes as more than a thousand volunteers took to the streets of Manchester yesterday to sweep away the debris from the riots the night before.

Just hours after rioters took over the City Centre, smashing shop windows and looting merchandise, volunteers turned up with brooms and bin bags to help clean up the mess.

Jez Myers, a Manchester resident who organised the cleaning campaign on Twitter, helped mobilise the cleanup force with 12 hours notice, gaining around 7,000 followers.

“The pride, the passion and the care that these people have shown is simply overwhelming,” he told Mancunian Matters.

“Everyone wanted to come down and pitch in, to feel part of the community; there were face painters, local businesses offering food, drink, items to help.

“The generosity, be it in time or financially, has been incredible,” he said.

DAMAGE: A common scene for many shops and shoppers around Manchester yesterday

“I think everyone was shocked at how many people attended. Every conversation I had, whether it was with council officials or people wanting to clean up, was one of their love for Manchester.”

Manchester City Council street cleaners had begun the daunting task of cleaning up the roads hours before the first volunteers turned up at around 9am.

Kro Piccadilly and other outlets served free tea and coffee, other chains gave out food and taxi drivers gave discounts to volunteers. 

Councillor Kevin Peel, who represents the City Centre ward, was joined by Labour Leader Ed Miliband on a Manchester walkabout to assess the damage.

“I saw a city uniting in solidarity to show the true spirit of Manchester – all people, young and old and from every community coming together to get our city working again,” he said.

“I don’t know if the solidarity of today overshadows the carnage of last night, but it certainly sends a strong message to the perpetrators of this mindless violence and criminality that we are taking our city back.”

The Labour & Co-operative Councillor said he was delighted but not surprised by what he saw happening in the city centre yesterday morning.

“I have lived in Manchester for a long time and know Manchester people to be exceptional at pulling together and overcoming difficulties,” he explained.

Both he and Councillor Grace Fletcher-Hackwood, representative of the Fallowfield ward, paid tribute to the work of Greater Manchester Police.

COMMUNITY SPIRIT: People join together to show another side to Manchester

“I saw a lot of people just quietly staring at the damage – but a much more prevalent spirit of pulling together, defiance, and pride in Manchester,” she said.

“I think there’s still a lot of anger and disappointment in Manchester and across the country, and that’s not something you can easily sweep away. We’ll be unpicking the reasons for these riots for a long time yet.

“But we saw the true spirit of Manchester this morning, and that was enough to keep my faith in this city and its people going strong.”


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