Beth Abbit

Manchester Evening News

From the Holocaust survivor who endured four concentration camps, to the children exploited by criminals, and the bereavement team coping through a pandemic - these features aim to shine a light on lesser told stories.

The first article - an investigation into child criminal exploitation (CCE) - gives insight into a hidden national issue which developed in unexpected ways during the pandemic. National lockdowns left many children invisible from those who would protect them and increased their vulnerability to gangs, drugs and serious violence. I spoke to mothers who feared their children were at risk; an A&E medic who describes children on repeat visits to hospital with ‘increasing severity of injuries’; a headteacher who says ‘at risk’ children are being missed; a social worker who says youngsters are terrified of retribution; a detective working to tackle the root causes and a reformed gangster who says technology has made it easier than ever to groom kids for crime. I also drew on case studies, a serious case review and used an FOI request to obtain figures on youth violence. The article is part of a series about CCE, its effects and consequences. My second story is a profile of Ike Alterman, a Holocaust survivor who endured four concentration camps and a death march before arriving in Britain via the Kindertransport. The piece marked Holocaust Memorial Day and aims to widen understanding of the Holocaust. I met Ike through The Fed, a social care charity for the Greater Manchester Jewish Community which runs a project telling the whole life stories of survivors. He spent hours speaking to me about his experiences with perfect recall of happy family life, time in the Jewish ghetto, the moment his mother and siblings were led away at gunpoint and his experiences in concentration camps. It was profoundly moving and a great honour to speak to a giant of Jewish history. The feature is intended to further understanding of the Holocaust and promote the work of those striving to further Holocaust education in Greater Manchester. It was followed by a second feature about Ike and his friend Sam Laskier - who were liberated together but didn’t realise they were in the same open wagon to Theresienstadt until decades later. The final piece is a feature about the bereavement team at the Northern Care Alliance. Much of the coverage of the NHS during the pandemic focussed on those working at the sharp end - saving lives in A&E and on Covid-19 hot wards. A year into the pandemic, as we reflected on the impact of the previous 12 months, I was given exclusive access to staff working with those at the end of their lives. This piece aims to provide comfort to those who lost loved ones during the pandemic and to showcase the incredible work of a lesser seen group of medics and staff, who gave extraordinary insight into their working lives.