NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Manchester bomb child survivors inspired to help others in Aberdeen

Jago and Carmen
Image caption Jago and Carmen were both at the Ariana Grande concert in 2017 when the bombing happened

Two primary school friends have told BBC Scotland how their experience of the 2017 Manchester Arena bomb attack has inspired them to help other children with their mental health.

Pop star Ariana Grande was performing on the night a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 22 people.

Carmen and Jago, who are both 11, were there - and say the experience has made them more aware of mental health.

They are part of a young team raising money towards a new centre in Aberdeen.

The child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) unit at the City Hospital - which is undergoing a £1m renovation - is set to open its doors in June.

The aim is to bring all relevant resources under one roof.

The six-strong Kids for Camhs fundraising team are trying to reach a target of £5,000 through various events towards extra touches, such as a therapy garden.

Best friends Carmen and Jago, from Banchory, Aberdeenshire, got tickets for the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena for their 10th birthdays.

Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from the island of Barra, was among those killed by the blast after the show on 22 May 2017.

Image copyright Various
Image caption Eilidh MacLeod, 14, from Barra (bottom left) was among the 22 people who died

Carmen told BBC Scotland: "We were in the foyer, talking about how cool it was - then there was a massive explosion.

"There was a split second where everyone almost froze and didn't know what to do, the whole moment seemed to be in slow motion."

She recalled how there was debris falling from the roof.

Carmen said people were "running and screaming".

"Unluckily some people didn't manage to make it," the schoolgirl said.

'More acceptant'

Jago said: "It felt like the building was going to collapse. People were getting trampled over.

"When we went home we were like 'what just happened?'

Carmen explained that the fundraisers wanted everyone who knew the the victims or who was at the concert "just to feel like it's OK".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ariana Grande headed a benefit gig in Manchester shortly after the bombing

She said: "It was an unusual and strange and quite traumatising experience, but there's other good things in life that you can look forward to.

"We went there for our 10th birthday, we were younger, all we wanted to know was why it had happened, we were just so scared at the time."

Carmen said she now felt "more acceptant of people's feelings and thoughts".

'Feel it's important'

She added: "We want people who have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or something from that event to have something like this to make them feel OK and just have someone to talk to about it.

"For people who do suffer from mental health problems and who don't have a building or centre like this nearby they can go to, we just want them to feel it's all going to be fine, and just keep going.

"We are so lucky to have this kind of place."

Image caption Dr Lynne Taylor predicts the unit will be a "centre of excellence"

Jago said the experience did not put him off concerts as it could happen any time, in any place.

He said: "There are people who have been injured or traumatised by it.

"We feel it's important to be in a good state of mental health, being depressed and lonely must feel really bad."

Dr Lynne Taylor, clinical director of the Camhs service, predicted the centre was going to be a "fantastic centre of excellence" for young people in the north east of Scotland.

"We're hoping it going to be more like a one-stop shop with lots of facilities and seamless treatment," she said.

"The money that the children are raising is to add additional extras."

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