Counsellors respond after concert terror trauma

Sue Cotton, Child Action North West's CEO
Sue Cotton, Child Action North West's CEO

As the dust begins to settle on the Manchester Arena attrocity, the effects will continue to ripple through Lancashire.

CATHERINE MUSGROVE spoke to the people who are dedicated to offering support in the weeks and months to come.

“We’ve seen demand for our counselling services double in a week”, said Sue Cotton, chief executive of Child Action North West (CANW).

Saffie Rose Roussos

Saffie Rose Roussos

The organisation which provides a range of family and children’s services, has a team of around 30 counsellors who work right across the North West, and who are determined to be a lasting point of call for youngsters in distress.

The attack on Monday, May 22 killed 22 and injured more than 100, with thousands more lives across the region touched by the tragedy. Three of the victims were from the Lancashire region - eight-year-old Saffie Roussos from Leyland, 18-year-old Georgina Callander from Tarleton and 45-year-old Michelle kiss who grew up in Leyland before moving to Blackburn.

Ms Cotton said: “After the attack in Manchester we really wanted to put in whatever support we could and are already in touch with a lot of schools.

“We put a call out to LCC saying that if any support was needed by schools, please contact us, our volunteers are willing to do more.

Georgina Callander with Ariana Grande

Georgina Callander with Ariana Grande

“Since we put that out a lot of requests have come in from schools across Lancashire. We find that if something has happened, it affects the whole of the school community.”

CANW has been responding to focused requests as well as holding drop-in sessions at schools.

Ms Cotton said: “The sorts of calls are primarily from schools asking for advice and support for parents, teachers and pupils - how to deal with feelings and questions in the aftermath.

“We want to reassure parents on how to explain different things and explain how the feelings they’re having are perfectly normal. For teachers it’s what signs to look out for if a pupil is showing distress.

Tributes have flooded in for devoted mother Michelle Kiss

Tributes have flooded in for devoted mother Michelle Kiss

“We also want to make sure that pupils know counselling is there.”

She added: “We are dealing with a wide range of people - parents and children who were at the concert, parents of children who were there but they themselves weren’t, and people who weren’t there but are still affected because they know someone who was.

“We are working with Lancashire Mind, Youth Zones and other partners. We want to work in a joined up, effective way, but to do that requires funding.

“Yes, we can deal with the immediate response, but we need to make sure that people are properly organised, vetted, and that the support we are offering can be sustained in coming weeks and months.

“I don’t want to offer something now that we can’t sustain.

“To some people it will have more of an effect, and for those people we’re still here if they need it in weeks and months to come.

“At this time, communities are pulling together, and it’s about addressing the immediate problems, but if afterwards people are still experiencing shock and grief, then we will still be here.”

To make sure the work is sustainable, CANW has launched a Go Fund Me campaign, which has attracted more than £2,000 in nine days.

To donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/traumasupport

Independent charity Victim Support said it has been contacted by children as young as six seeking psychological support after Manchester terror attack.

Ellen Miller, Victim Support’s service director for Northern England, said: “The majority of the people who have contacted us are people seeking emotional help. Over half of those who have reached out to us are people who were at the concert, and over one third of those are seeking help for children, some as young as six, who have been traumatised by what they witnessed.”

The requests for support received by the charity in relation to the Manchester attack are not only coming from those who were directly affected, but also friends and family of witnesses seeking help in supporting them.

Ellen added: “There were over 20,000 people at the concert itself, and if you think of friends and family who are also now trying to help these people through this traumatic time, the knock on effect is huge.

Contact Victim Support’s supportline number on 08081689111 or get more information online at: victimsupport.org.uk

Tips for parents:

Ms Cotton said: “It’s about really simple things like keeping to a routine as much as possible and opening up conversations.

“Sometimes not saying anything can make it more scary, so you can ask your child what they have heard and discuss it with them.

“Also, try not to let them dwell on hours and hours of news reports about it.

“Everyone responds differently, but there’s a lot of practical help available.”