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Back on the town? Stay safe

The Manchester Water Safety Partnership is urging people to keep safe, as many of Manchester’s bars, restaurants and pubs are set to re-open on Saturday, 4 July, in line with government guidance.

The Ashton, Rochdale and Bridgewater canals run right through the heart of the city centre with many bars located next to the water. The partnership has been working hard to improve water safety.  Earlier this year barriers were installed at Lock 89 and rescue equipment at Lock 89 (Tib Lock) and Lock 87 (Canal Street) to stop people falling into the water.

Many businesses have also taken part in throw-line training and lighting has been upgraded along the canals in the city centre. Banners will be placed along the water and targeted social media shared to help people stay safe and remind them not to walk home near water after they have been drinking.

The partnership would like people to enjoy themselves, but remember:

  • Look out for each other when you’ve had a few drinks and make sure you travel home with friends – plan your journey home before you go out
  • Don’t walk home alongside the water after drinking. Find a better route home – make sure your friends get home safely
  • Don’t ever be tempted to cool off by jumping in canals or rivers

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager David Wilson, who is the Chair of the Manchester Water Safety Partnership, said: “The Manchester Water Safety Partnership would like to remind people who decide to visit Manchester city centre as bars, pubs and restaurants re-open about staying safe around the canals. 

“The city centre is a wonderful place to visit and enjoy a day or night out, but it also has many waterways which run through it. As we sadly know too well, water and alcohol do not mix with many young men drowning after falling into canals in the city centre.

“Please keep safe by looking out for your friends and by staying together. Plan your route home before you go out and don’t ever be tempted to walk by waterways after you’ve had a drink.”

Greater Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, Sacha Lord, said: “If you are planning on heading into Manchester for drinks, as pubs, restaurants and bars start to re-open in line with government guidance we want you stay safe. Both safe in relation to the ongoing pandemic – by following social distancing measures and other guidance in place – and also around the city-region’s many water ways.

“We know people just want to have a good time but please bear in mind dangers that are around us, which we might not think about after a few drinks. It’s best to just avoid walking by the canals at night, especially if you have been drinking alcohol, and please keep an eye on your friends.”

More advice:
Summer Water Safety
Stay safe on a night out
Bereaved families warn of water dangers
Throw-line locations
Social media assets to share

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Bereaved families warn of water dangers

Family members who have lost loved ones in tragic drowning incidents are urging people to stay safe around water, as parts of the UK are set to be hit by hot weather.

In Greater Manchester, eight young men, aged between 13 and 21-years-old, have lost their lives due to accidental drowning in the last four years. Most of them had jumped into water on a hot day to cool off over the summer months.

Across England last year, 147 people accidentally drowned in open water.

Chris Jordan is the uncle of Jack Pullen, who drowned in July 2016 at age 16.

Chris said: “Our Jack wasn’t strong enough to beat the water and we tragically lost him forever. We lost a huge part of us. He was just 16 and had his whole life ahead of him. Our family chain is broken and it can never ever be repaired.

“When the weather is hot and the water looks inviting, stop, think and remember. Don’t think there is no danger because the water is calm. Please stay out of the water.”

Since Jack’s death, Chris has set up the Jack Pullen Foundation to help raise awareness of the dangers of open water.

Dylan Ramsay drowned in a quarry on July 3, 2011, at 13-years-old. His mum, Beckie Ramsay, has been campaigning to raise awareness of the dangers of open water since that time and has worked with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.

Beckie said: “It’s almost nine years since we lost our first-born son, Dylan. My eldest child – the one who was paving the way for his younger siblings, the one my babies looked up to. It’s as sore today as the day it happened. My heart is shattered into a million pieces, my family never to be the same.

“Every time we see the hot weather my heart hurts waiting for that news flash, waiting to hear that another family will start this nightmare that we now call life.

“The hardest thing is not being able to fix the pain your other children feel. Grief comes in waves so one day it could be me that’s really suffering, the next day it could be my husband, then my children. We are in a constant cycle of pain and heartache, and there is no cure for this.”

Area Manager Paul Fearnhead from GMFRS said: “We don’t want to stop people having fun, however, safety is paramount so we want to remind young people and their parents and carers of the dangers associated with going into reservoirs, lakes, rivers or other types of open water, especially as the weather warms up and people spend more time outdoors.

“Cold Water Shock affects even the strongest of swimmers and can kill you in just 60 seconds. You also never know what is lurking beneath the surface – people have drowned after getting tangled up in undergrowth and other things hiding in the water.”

Water safety messages are reinforced through Safe4Summer – a partnership campaign between GMFRS, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the 10 local authorities.

Superintendent Chris Bridge from Greater Manchester Police said: “Over the coming days and for the rest of the summer, we’re urging you all to be water aware and to stay out of open water. If you get into trouble, it not only endangers your life, but also the lives of others who would go into the water to help you.

“I hope that people will recognise the dangers and the tragic consequences that can come from being in open water – no matter how tempting it may be during the hot weather.”

Towards the end of summer 2019, GMFRS also worked with the family and friends of two teenage boys who drowned on holiday in Austria to raise awareness of the dangers of open water. You can find further details on GMFRS’ website.

Thanks to the work of the Water Manchester Safety Partnership there are now reach poles installed in different locations of the Rochdale Canal, where young people have lost their lives.

A picture of Jack Pullen who drowned in July 2016 at age 16

Jack Pullen drowned in July 2016

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Charlie’s Good Deed Day

The family of Charlie Pope, who died in a Manchester city centre canal in March 2018, has asked people to honour him by doing a good deed in his memory.

The death of the 19-year-old University of Manchester student prompted a campaign calling for a review into Manchester’s waterways and his family are calling on people to ‘turn a negative into a positive’ by doing something nice on the anniversary of the tragic event.

A picture of Charlie Pope

Charlie Pope

The heartbroken family have named March 1 ‘Charlie’s Good Deed Day’ and hope Charlie will be remembered through acts of random kindness.

The family said: “We are approaching the hardest day of our year. There is such a huge hole in our family. Time doesn’t make it any easier – it just makes you realise how long it’s been since we saw his face, his smile, since we heard his voice and his laughter. The thought that people are being kind and creating smiles in his name will undoubtedly help us bare the pain at this time of year.

“A simple gesture that will make someone smile is all that’s required, be it a bunch of flowers, holding a door open for someone, carrying their shopping to the car. Just tell them why you are doing it by mentioning Charlie’s Good Deed Day. Charlie was a very generous and giving young man and always a joker so for people to smile in his memory would make him so proud.”

Find out more about Charlie’s Good Deed Day.

Watch and listen to Charlie’s dad and others talking about him and offering advice about staying safe near water:

See more water safety advice.

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Don’t Drink and Drown week 2019

We’re supporting the Royal Life Saving Society’s annual Don’t Drink and Drown campaign.

Did you know that more than a quarter of all accidental drowning victims had alcohol and/or drugs in their system?

Latest stats show that nearly 450 accidentally drowned in the last five years whilst under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. That’s an average of 90 per year. Many of these drowned because they walked alone near water and fell in.

We are helping RLSS UK in their efforts to cut down the number of intoxicated drownings and are urging people to #BEAMATE by looking out for their friends.

The key messages are:

  • Look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
  • If you’ve had a drink, stay away from the water
  • Find an alternative route home, don’t walk home near the water
  • Stay away from the water in winter, cold water shock kills

When drinking, remember the effects this can have on you:

  • Alcohol lowers inhibitions, leading to impaired judgement which means you are more likely to take risks and get in trouble
  • Alcohol limits muscle ability making simple movements much harder
  • Alcohol slows down your reactions making it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble
  • Alcohol numbs the senses making swimming very difficult

The Don’t Drink and Drown campaign, this year running from 2 to 9 December, was first launched in 2014 following a string of tragic drownings of young people.

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Bereaved family and friends issue warnings

After the first anniversary of two teenage boys drowning on holiday, their loved ones have reminded people of the dangers of swimming in open water.

Jason Varghese, 15, and his older cousin Joel Aniyankunj, 19, were on holiday in Austria last summer, and both drowned while on a boat trip with their family members on August 23, 2018.

Following on from the tragic accident Jason’s and Joel’s loved ones are urging young people not to swim in open water – both at home and on holiday – while also reaching out to parents to raise awareness and save others the heartache they have experienced.

Mother Suby Varghese holding a picture of her dead son and his cousin

Jason’s mum, Suby Varghese, said: “We all went on a much-awaited holiday to visit family members in Austria. The heat became too much for us so our relatives decided that a boating trip would be nice and that the kids would go for a swim – so we gave them their swimming costumes and off they went.

“We received a call from relatives to say ‘you need to come’, but they didn’t tell us anymore. Jason had gone into the water for a swim but soon got into distress. Joel, our nephew, went in the water to help Jason, then they both disappeared under the water.”

Emergency services arrived quickly but couldn’t find Jason and Joel due to the thick undergrowth.

Suby continued: “Both boys were strong swimmers but they became tangled in the weeds. The search went on for hours and professional divers found them later in the day.

“Parents should be aware of dangers around open water – we don’t want any other family to go through what we have – we miss them every day. They were so full of life and we can’t get over the fact they’re still not here – it’s still very raw.

“They were loving, caring boys. The fact that they’re not here is heart-breaking – had we known the dangers we wouldn’t have sent them that day. Please don’t swim in open water.”

Robbie Woodcock and Sam Gibbons, both 16, shared their experiences of losing one of their best friends and the impact it has had on them

Robbie said: “Last year I was talking to Jason before he went on holiday about joining the gym, and a few days later I got a message to say he had drowned on holiday.

“Since Jason has passed away we all miss him loads, especially at certain times, like the school prom – which he was really looking forward to. It’s a shame he wasn’t there with us.

“Please don’t swim in open water – we don’t want anyone to go through what we all have since losing Jason.”

Sam said: “I was on holiday at the same time as Jason and I got a text from Robbie. At first I didn’t believe it because we had recently all been talking in a group, and before that we had played football together. It hit us all hard.

“We just feel that without Jason here we miss his presence and laughter. In the limo for our prom it just wasn’t the same. We notice him missing from our group of friends – there’s always one person missing, and that’s Jason.”

 

The important water safety messages reinforce Safe4Summer – a partnership campaign between GMFRS, Greater Manchester Police, and the 10 local authorities in Greater Manchester.

Area Manager Damian O’Rourke from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We really appreciate Jason and Joel’s loved ones supporting our water safety campaigns and work. Hearing from people who have lost family members and friends is extremely sad but really helps strengthen our safety messages and advice, with the ultimate aim of keeping people out of harm’s way.

“This year’s partnership campaign Safe4Summer focuses on a number of key themes, including water safety – so our new suite of case studies involving Jason’s mum, friends and teacher, really do play an important role in reaching out to different audiences – whether that be to young people directly, or their parents and other family members.

“We don’t want to stop people having fun, however, safety is paramount so we want to remind young people, and their parents and carers, of the dangers associated with our water ways – so please take a look at our Safe4Summer website and watch the new videos highlighting just how easy people can drown in open water, and the heartache caused by such incidents.”

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Remembering Charlie – one year on

The father of Charlie Pope has paid tribute to his son on the one-year anniversary of his death.

The 19-year-old, a University of Manchester student, was reported missing in the early hours of March 1 last year and was found in Rochdale Canal in the city centre the following day.

Charlie’s heartbreaking death prompted a campaign calling for a review into the safety around Manchester’s waterways.

Father Nick Pope said: “It does not feel like a year. Sometimes it feels like it has gone by in a flash, other times it feels like it’s never ending.

“We have good days and bad days, and the bad days are very bad. Everybody deals with it differently and in their own way. As a family, we kind of all have our own way of dealing with it. This week is difficult for us and close friends as well, it brings it all back.”

The popular student’s death thrust canal safety into the spotlight. An independent safety review was commissioned by the Manchester Water Safety Partnership, which proposed a host of recommendations after confirming there had been 28 water-related deaths in the city centre zone since 2007.

Nick, who was recently appointed as a special advisor to the Manchester Water Safety Partnership, believes campaigners have had a massive affect.

He said: “When you look back, what does seem remarkable is how much we have achieved. People should be very proud, they can say we made a difference. We can change things for the better.

“From a personal perspective, we’re just pleased and proud we have honoured Charlie. Hopefully we have made a change that will prevent further deaths. If that’s the case, that’s a fantastic outcome.”

Charlie’s family will mark the first anniversary of life without their youngest son on Friday 1 March, with a small gathering, before joining his friends at a pub.

In an attempt to turn the anniversary from a “negative” into a “positive”, the heartbroken family have named March 1 “Charlie’s Good Deed Day”.

The family hope Charlie will be remembered through acts of random kindness from strangers across the North East and beyond.

Nick said: “We were thinking about the anniversary and what we could do to make it a more positive day.

“We talked about it as a family, and this is the sort of thing Charlie would like. It’s turning a negative into something more positive. It is something simple everyone can celebrate and get involved in.”

Find out more about Charlie’s Good Deed Day.

Read full story and interview from the Manchester Evening News.

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Special Advisor appointed to Partnership

The Manchester Water Safety Partnership has unveiled Nick Pope as a special advisor as they look to improve safety around Manchester’s waterways. 

Nick has become an advocate for water safety following the tragic death of his son, Charlie, in the Rochdale Canal in March 2018.

Picture of Nick Pope

Welcoming Nick, Chairman of the Water Safety Partnership, David Wilson said: “I am really pleased to have Nick join the Partnership to assess and challenge what we do and work together to reduce deaths from drowning in the waterways of Manchester.

“The Manchester Water Safety Partnership has been working for a number of years to improve the safety of the waterways in the city centre and, although the number of deaths has reduced, we firmly believe that one death is one too many. We are committed to continuing our work by implementing all the recommendations of the RoSPA report which has provided us with expert guidance in water accident prevention”.

Following his appointment, Nick said: “Since Charlie’s death there has been action taken and I commend the Partnership for commissioning the independent report and committing themselves to implementing that in full. I think it will go a long way to preventing future deaths.

“Charlie was a cracking lad who loved Manchester and I would like to thank everyone there for their support, by working together I hope we will see change and prevent similar incidents in the future”.  

Following two deaths in Manchester’s waterways in early 2018, the Manchester Partnership commissioned the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to write an independent report on the safety of Greater Manchester’s waterways.

Having received the report they have already begun addressing some of the recommendations and are formulating a comprehensive action plan to address the recommendations in full.

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Don’t Drink and Drown

A picture of the Don't Drink and Drown campaign banner

Don’t Drink and Drown is a national campaign by the Royal Life Saving Society UK that warns drinkers to steer clear of walking by or entering water when under the influence of alcohol. A national campaign week will run from 3 to 9 December 2018.

Research indicates that around a quarter of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream.

The campaign was launched following a string of tragic student drownings. It has two targeted time frames through the year where RLSS UK and partners push messaging these are September and December.

Advice

  • Don’t enter the water if you have been drinking
  • Alcohol seriously affects your ability to get yourself out of trouble
  • Look out for your friends, make sure they get home safely
  • Don’t walk home near water, you might fall in

Effects of alcohol on the body

  • Alcohol lowers inhibitions, leading to impaired judgment which means you are more likely to take risks and get into trouble
  • Alcohol limits muscle ability making simple movements much harder
  • Alcohol slows down your reactions making it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble
  • Alcohol numbs the senses particularly sight, sound and touch, making swimming very difficult

The Evidence

There were 366 accidental drownings involving alcohol and/or drugs in the United Kingdom from 2012-2016, that’s an average of 73 per year.

Visit the RLSS UK website for more information and campaign materials.

 

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Students get their beer goggles

Hosted by Manchester’s Business Improvement District, the Water Safety Partnership attended the biannual student social event to raise awareness of water safety in the city to new and existing students for the start of the autumn term.

With the use of ‘beer goggles’ we demonstrated to the students the importance of safety by water when under the influence of alcohol as well as raising why people should stick together and look out for each other when enjoying the night life that the city has to offer.

A picture of fire service station manager Dave Wilson talking to students

MWSP chair Dave Wilson chats to students

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