Helena Vesty

Manchester Evening New

In my four years as a journalist I have immersed myself in my newsroom, tackling every field from breaking news live from scenes, legally complex court reports, long-form features, to my work now as a specialist in health. I have made it my mission to show the humanity of each story I cover, showing real people at the centre of social issues.

Ambulance death - I got this story through a contact I have spent a year developing trust with, a senior source within the NHS. I then corroborated the information quickly with a second source within ambulance service. I set the death in the context of the mounting pressures on the NHS and ambulance services. Not only was this a personal tragedy for the patient and their family, but staff explained that such a death was shockingly viewed as inevitable and likely to happen again among the workforce. The story went national, including in MailOnline and BBC, and I received multiple follow up leads from patients with similar experiences, and staff pushed to extremes. Omicron - This investigation took a number of months. I approached NHS staff from different departments, all around the country, to prove that Omicron almost broke the health system in both Greater Manchester and beyond. My colleague assisted by confirming some of the lines with high-level contacts and planned the writing with me. The testimony of NHS staff, who had to be sensitively approached and interviewed several times, proved that the pressure Omicron put on an already flagging NHS created danger for patients. We had to win the trust of NHS staff carefully as it is in their contracts to not speak to the press and they could lose their jobs if we did not approach this correctly. Legoland - This story came from a contact meeting I had with a local police officer on my patch. The officer mentioned one estate that he was particularly concerned about, dubbed ‘Legoland’ by locals, built in a low ditch - hidden from any other main roads surrounding it. The officer told me the estate had been forgotten in comparison to areas of Greater Manchester that were getting investment, and was plagued by drug dealers. I spoke to older residents to confirm how Legoland had earned its a name, unearthing a long forgotten controversy - the estate was supposed to be rebuilt but was now, instead, one of the only remaining prefab estates in the region. A photographer and I went to the estate to talk to residents about the pervasive drug and antisocial behaviour problems. I also wanted to capture that while there were difficulties, people still had to live their daily lives here. It became a moving piece about an estate and group of people literally hidden from society’s view. Residents later got in touch to thank me for covering the issues that made them scared to walk through their estate.