A BRADFORD councillor who supported victims of the Bradford City fire in the days and weeks after the tragedy has reflected amid the 37th anniversary this week.

Sabiya Khan, Labour councillor for Wibsey, was a social worker when the disaster happened at Valley Parade in 1985.

She helped patients and their families with the psychological trauma they suffered after what was one of the worst football stadium disasters in history.

Nearly four decades on, Cllr Khan attended the memorial service at Centenary Square on Wednesday, paying her respects to the 56 people who died.

“When the fire happened, I was working at St Luke’s Hospital. In those days, social work was very multi-disciplinary, and we worked on the wards”, said Cllr Khan, who was in her twenties and was pregnant with her daughter Aleesha at the time.

“The fire was on a Saturday, when we returned to work on Monday there was chaos.

“A lot of people required surgery and people were having skin grafts.

“Even as staff, we were traumatised, as we had never seen a tragedy of this nature or numbers befalling Bradford.

“We were all very dazed, but had to be mindful of being sensitive – we had a role to play.

“Families had lost loved ones and people had suffered life-changing injuries. We were trying to help them come to terms with loss and grief.

“We had to get extra resources as we didn’t have enough numbers in the team to manage the situation.”

Cllr Khan added that the culture of the time made her team’s job particularly hard.

“At the time there was stigma around accepting the help that we as social workers were offering. Mental health was not talked about as it is now”, she said.

“People were not so open about psychological trauma then, so we had to make a very gentle approach.

“But overall, I remember that time very well as we were part of a team who worked together to help and support all those affected.”

Cllr Khan described Wednesday’s memorial event as “moving” and was happy to see it held in person for the first time since the pandemic.

“It was very poignant. It was nice for people to come together and remember those 56 people”, she said.

“It was important for families to come and express their feelings and the grief they are still carrying all these years later.

“It was moving to see families coming to lay wreaths, and it’s important that we remember all the heroes of that day.”