Listen: Manchester native Dr Beth Green speaks of her hopes and sadness for her home city.
Two Manchester women of faith spoke of their devastation and their hopes for their home town, while thousands gathered in the English city’s town square remembering the victims of Monday’s terror attack.
One woman from Manchester who spoke to Hope 103.2 in the days following the tragedy, is academic Dr Beth Green. She was in Australia at the time of the Monday night bombing of Manchester Arena and spoke to Open House presenter Stephen O’Doherty with a shake in her voice, describing a mixture of emotions.
“It makes me feel homesick, I guess,” she said. I’ve got friends and family who still live in Manchester. I love the fact that on Facebook you can report whether or not you’re safe and they are all safe, for which I’m really grateful.”
Praying for Community Solidarity
Dr Green, a woman of Christian faith, is particularly concerned about the fallout that may occur after the attack and is praying for community cohesion.
“I love the outpouring of love and support that Mancunians gave to people who were stranded at the Manchester Arena,” she said. “But I know that Manchester also does have some deeply divided communities. I think many of my Christian friends and I will be praying that this won’t contribute to people who live in our particularly Muslim and ethnic communities, feeling distrusted or unsafe. It’s going to be really important that those communities can work together and not allow this to define or separate their lives.”
Her hopes are on their way to being answered already, as Albert Square, Manchester, was the location of a massive vigil on Tuesday afternoon. It brought thousands of locals out together to remember the fallen and express unity, wearing Manchester t-shirts and holiding ‘I Heart MCR’ signs.
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This week’s attack was not the first act of terrorism Manchester has seen. In 1996, the city was the target of a massive IRA bomb. At the time it was the largest detonated in Britain since World War II.
Dr Green lived in the city at the time, and she said this week’s bombing was very different in nature to the 1996 attack. She recalls that the IRA gave warning which saved lives.
“The IRA bombing radically reshaped the physical centre of our city,” she said. “But there was a coded warning before that bomb and nobody actually died. Whereas now, we’ve got people who are often acting alone. They’re connected to networks but acting alone and it’s very difficult to predict when somebody’s going to show up and inflict this kind of violence. It is a very different space.”
Another Manchester native who speak to Hope 103.2 is Jo Armstrong, a regular guest on Katrina Roe’s mornings show. Now based in Sydney, she lived and studied in the city and was also devastated that the place she loved had been attacked in this way.
“Manchester is a big city, but not a capital city, and a lot of the other shocking things that have happened around the world have been in larger cities,” she said. “For it to be in my home city is really impacting.”
Her friends and family are also safe but she is wondering what the city will feel like when she heads back home soon for her annual visit.
“We can move on from this and live together in love.” ~ Dr Beth Green
Despite the horror of this week’s act of terror, Dr Beth Green spoke from her deep faith when she was asked what hope there is in such uncertain times. She encouraged people to focus on the hope that Jesus offers.
“Hope is always in the power of the resurrection,” she said, “and this world is – as CS Lewis would describe it – the ‘Shadowlands’. It’s not all there is. We can move on from this and live together in love.”