Some words to describe my home city: banging, real, mint, wet, buzzing.
I have so much to say about Manchester. Memories of my teenage years spent in Didsbury and Chorlton, the buzz of family trips to the Curry Mile (accompanied with the smell of delicious curries and brand new fabrics) and years of marveling over the architecture of the Trafford Centre.
Getting the tram back from town at 5PM pre-pandemic was a feat in itself — we were always packed in like sardines with the doors barely able to shut. For me, after a day or two outside the city, the train pulling into Manchester Piccadilly comes with a completely unique excitement. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact feeling I have when the Beetham Tower comes into view again, but I know I feel at home.
We’re steeped in story, history and culture at every turn. Manchester became known as the world’s largest marketplace for cotton goods, dubbed “Cottonopolis” during the Victorian era. It’s the birthplace of the Suffragette movement and its leader — Emmeline Pankhurst — held her first meetings in her home just off Oxford Road. It’s the founding place of the Manchester Guardian, now famously known as The Guardian. The home of bands that have emerged from Manchester’s music scene — from Oasis to Take That. Back then, I’m told Manchester seemed like a place where anything could happen — a sentiment captured in the saying “what Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow.” My experience tells me it’s true in every sense.
“We draw strength from each other, coming together in times of happiness and grief.”
There’s a strong connection between fellow Mancunians. I feel this whenever I meet one outside the city. An instant comfortable bond over where we’re from. Our conversations automatically flow — finding common ground has never been so easy. This builds into the wider concept of community, a sentiment taken very seriously in Manchester.
We draw strength from each other, coming together in times of happiness and grief. One of my most important experiences was an Interfaith Iftar held at the Manchester Cathedral in the wake of the horrific Manchester Arena attack. I remember the way my city was shaken but strongly united in that moment. It was an evening of people from all corners of the world being connected by their care and love for their city. Our home.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, this unity has shone through again. I saw the ways strangers would go out of their way for each other — from delivering groceries to checking in on the vulnerable. Mosques and churches sent food and care packages to healthcare staff at the hospitals before opening their doors as vaccination centres.
“The people living here deserve more than empty words of “levelling up” and “more funding.”“
However, my city and the surrounding regions are deeply suffering too. A third of all children are living in poverty across Greater Manchester and the North-West. We’ve seen our city being continuously sidelined during the pandemic — many Mancunians will remember Andy Burnham’s passionate stance against the lack of funding that came with more restrictions back in late 2020. We’ve faced the brunt of the pandemic too, facing some of the longest restrictions since it all began alongside rocketing cases and deaths throughout the last year, fuelled by poverty and inequality.
It makes me feel so angry, furious, at times exasperated. My city deserves so much more. The people living here deserve more than empty words of “levelling up” and “more funding.” There are people in my city who have breakfast not knowing if they can afford dinner. They pay the bills not knowing if they can afford the rent. They don’t deserve to live like this, but in years of ignoring northern areas and letting inequality, poverty and destitution run rampant, it’s the grim reality they face daily.
“That irreplaceable, friendly and warm feeling of being family with people I’m not related to will always stay with me.”
I can’t think of home being anywhere but Manchester. Even if I decide to fly away from the nest and settle in another city or even country, I will always find myself back on the streets of Chorlton having a coffee or on a tram to Market Street.
That irreplaceable, friendly and warm feeling of being family with people I’m not related to will always stay with me. The kinship and kindness within different communities coming together when times were tough, is unforgettable. Our spirit is welcoming new neighbours with open arms and bidding a fond farewell when it’s time for others to move on.
You’re never alone in Manchester. This magnificent city is always there for you.
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