Marking the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 London attacks, Victim Support staff members remember the charity’s involvement in helping people affected.
Four Al Qaeda-affiliated suicide bombers targeted London commuters on 7 July 2005. 52 people were killed and 700 more were injured.
Pat Green, a current Victim Support manager, was at the time in charge of a Victim Support branch, just a mile from the Aldgate bomb. Recalling the charity’s immediate response after being brought in by police, he says: “We helped establish a central point within the Royal Horticultural Hall, where those that had been caught up in the bombings could come and receive whatever support they needed.”
The centre was set up in partnership with a number of organisations, including the British Red Cross and Salvation Army, where those who had been affected by the attacks could access the help they needed. Victim Support offered emotional support and practical information to anyone who had witnessed or been injured in the blasts, as well as those who had tragically lost loved ones.
Ayse Hassan, Victim Support’s London Services Manager, was based at the centre. She supported a number of victims affected by the blasts, including one injured on the bus bombed at Tavistock Square. The victim shared their fear of using public transport again and was equally scared of their children using it too.
Ayse listened to the victim’s feelings and worked with them on coping mechanisms, to help the victim regain their confidence using public transport again. Like the victim, Ayse was also anxious of using public transport again, but helping others enabled her to cope with her own fears.
Beyond the pain caused on the streets of London, the terrorists’ influence also stretched country-wide – something demonstrated in the sudden rise in anti-Muslim hate crime across the UK.
Ayse supported a person from the Muslim community whose family member had been injured on the tube. They were upset the attack had happened, yet also angry that they and their loved ones were being further victimised as anti-Muslim sentiment rose in the UK.
Pat recalls: “The number of hate crimes committed against Muslims immediately after the bombings rose by around six times.
To help tackle this, Victim Support set up regional support centres, and kept in close contact with local Muslim groups to track the extent of the problem throughout the period. The charity sent many messages of reassurance to them, letting them know they could come to us no matter what the circumstances – whether they’d decided to report something as a crime or not.
Victim Support continues to help people affected by terrorist atrocities and has set up a helpline for victims and witnesses from the Tunisia attacks. If you have been personally affected by the incidents in Tunisia and would like emotional support, please call the helpline on 0808 28 111 36. The number is free and calls are confidential.