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Manchester tackles racism against Kerala nurses

The victims were mainly nurses hailing from Kerala, who had come to work at the Wythenshawe Hospital in 2000.

india Updated: Dec 01, 2006 13:07 IST

The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) force has won an award for coming to the rescue of the small Kerala-origin community that had become the target of sustained racist attacks in recent months.

The victims were mainly nurses and their families hailing from Kerala who had come to work at the Wythenshawe Hospital in 2000. The small community settled around the hospital, but soon became victims of racist attacks.

In one attack, a girl's hair was set on fire, while the husband of a nurse working at the hospital was attacked at his house. The unnamed victims have recounted their tales to the local media in Manchester.

The husband of the nurse said: "I was sitting with my 18-month-old son on my knee when someone smashed my window with a rock, showering us with glass. My son was so upset he screamed and didn't stop crying for an hour. A week later, it happened again."

A nurse said: "We have had our car windows smashed, and fireworks and eggs thrown at the house. One of my friends' daughters was targeted by people who tried to put matches to her hair.

"We came here to help people. We are not illegal immigrants. We pay tax and work at the hospital, but we are too afraid to leave our house after dark."

However, the local police, housing and council officials took these acts seriously. They organised 'open days' at the hospital and encouraged members of the Kerala community to become involved against the drive against racism.

A race incident steering group was set up, uniformed police patrols were increased and spy cameras were installed. A number of people were charged and anti-social behaviour orders were imposed on the culprits.

Reports from Manchester say that police figures now show that the number of incidents has dropped "significantly". The team formed to tackle the problems has now won the 2006 "diversity in action award" from the magazine Police Review.

Paul Goggins, MP for Wythenshawe, told the Manchester Evening News: "As the community has become more diverse, this has called for leadership and a sensitive response from local police. This award underlines how successful the police have been."

First Published: Dec 01, 2006 13:07 IST