Mancunians are well known for their sense of community and solidarity, and the desire to help others. And it seems that it starts young.
The pupils at a Moss Side primary school are only nine or 10 years old, but they’re already aware of the importance of standing together and having a sense of belonging.
Ahead of the Lantern Festival last weekend – the tradition that marks the end of Chinese New Year – children at St Mary’s CofE primary have sent a special message to the city’s Chinese community.
The message reminds those who may not be able to travel to see their own families that they are part of the Manchester family.
Started over 2000 years ago, the Lantern Festival, Yuan Xiao, celebrates family, reunions and society. Some call it the ‘true’ Chinese Valentine’s Day.
But since some people may not be able to travel to see loved ones in China, and at a time when Coronavirus is dominating headlines across the world, the Year 5 class wanted to offer their support.
So they sent their own version of a Valentine’s message, to show their love and appreciation.
Messages written in tribute to Manchester’s Chinese community included: “You help to make our city special”, and “we are all one family”.
A message from Grace, aged 10, said: “We are really sorry you cannot travel to visit your family. But you need to remember that you have family in Manchester and it is us. We want to help you as much as we can and welcome you here…. All the rights we have here you can have too because you’re in Manchester.”
There are plans now for the work to be translated as an act of solidarity, and to be sent to a linked primary school in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the Coronovirus was first identified.
“A large part of our teaching is about being a global citizen,” said the school’s headteacher, Jenny McGarry.
“And as part of that it means we think about all nationalities and making sure people feel included in daily life.
“We also know that China couldn’t celebrate New Year in its normal style while there are concerns over Coronavirus – so, our children decided to help with that.”
“So often children will see the heart of an issue more clearly than anyone else,” added Councillor Luthfur Rahman from Manchester City Council.
“That clarity makes this message of support even more poignant – I hope all our Chinese community and especially students who are a long way from their families sense that empathy.”