Manchester: Incredible Acts of Kindness in the Wake of Devastation
I woke early on Tuesday morning in Cambodia to a BBC News alert on my phone. The moment I read the short breaking news bulletin about a suspected explosion at Manchester Arena, I knew the forthcoming details were going to be awful. As most Brits slept, I watched my phone, distracted and unable to work, as update after update came through. The death toll rose and names and faces began to emerge. Firstly, this article is not about the attack. It will not mention the name of the man or men connected with this act of terrorism. This article is dedicated to the honourable men and women who were spurred into action by this heinous crime which stole so many innocent lives and devastated so many more. As this news story swirls around the world, fear levels rising and fingers pointing the blame, I found myself needing some relief from the never-ending misery and terror projected by the media. Luckily the compassion of the human race offered me exactly this. Here are just a few of the incredible stories of selfless, good, honourable people who have made a positive impact in the sombre wake of the Manchester attack.
- Homeless Heroes – The actions of Stephen Jones and Chris Parker quickly hit the news on Tuesday when it was revealed the homeless men, who had been waiting outside the Arianna Grande concert where they were planning to panhandle, ran inside to help at the sound of the explosion. As hundreds streamed away from the venue, two men helped move injured people to safety and began administering basic first aid. They saved a woman’s life by keeping her injured legs elevated so she didn’t bleed out and helped children and parents reunite. Stephen said it was just instinct to run back inside, “I’m human, they’re human”, and describes pulling the shrapnel out of injured children as something that “had to be done, you had to help.” They were interviewed by several news outlets and their compassion sparked a number of Mancunians to start JustGiving pages to raise money to get the two men off the street. So far the sites have raised £43,872, £30,402 and £22,722. This money will be pooled through a local homeless charity. The co-chairman of West Ham United, a Premier League football club, and his son has offered to pay six months rent for both men as a thank you.
- #RoomForManchester – this hashtag began trending on Twitter within minutes of the news breaking. Individuals, families and hotel owners rallied to offer concert-goers a place to stay for the night, along with hot showers, food and cups of tea. Victoria Train Station is connected directly to the Arena and was therefore shut down in the wake of the attack, stranding many survivors in the city centre with nowhere to go for the night.
- Free Taxis – the co-owner of Street Cars Manchester happened to be near Manchester Arena at the time of the explosion. After finding out what happened from a police officer, he instructed his drivers to turn off their meters and help get children, teenagers and families home in the chaos that followed the attack. Other independent taxi drivers did exactly the same.
- Tattoo Tributes – Mancunians are flooding to get inked with the iconic image of the Manchester Bee, a symbol of the city’s textile industry. The worker bee represents hard work and unity as well as coming together for the greater good. Family members of victims have joined emergency workers to get this little insect tattooed on them as a way of memorialising those lost and injured as well as showing the resilience of the city’s community. Tattoo parlours across Manchester, the UK and around the world are charging £50 for each inking and this money is being donated to the families of the victims.
- Bar Bills Covered – Edmund Hall, from London, set up a JustGiving page to raise money to put some cash behind the bar in The Turing Tap, a pub near the Manchester Royal Infirmary. He acknowledges “alcohol isn’t the answer to the stress and trauma that the emergency services have experienced today” but he considered it a way of saying thank you to those men and women who were at the scene and continue to treat the victims. Edmund started the pot off with £100 and as it stands the campaign has raised an incredible £11,913 thanks to the generosity of 750 good people.
- Put Your Best Face Forward – a non-profit based in Beverly Hills, Face Forward, works with survivors of disfiguring crimes and violence. In the wake of the injuries sustained by the nail bomb, this organisation is not only offering free facial reconstructive surgery but also to cover the airfares, accommodation, medicine, anaesthesiologists and the costs of after-care nurses. This is just one example of the way in which organisations around the world have offered their specialist skills for the victims of the Manchester attack.
- “Don’t Look Back in Anger” – In the wake of tragedies like this, communities come together. Manchester has suffered a heart-breaking event and the strength of the people picking up the pieces has been inspirational. At a minute’s silence in the city earlier this week, a lone woman, Lydia Bernsmeier-Rullow, started singing one of the best known songs from one of the city’s most successful band, Oasis. The emotional sing-along of Don’t Look Back in Anger is moving on so many levels that there’s not much more I can say. Just watch the video.
There have been times this week when it has been hard to see the good in the world. The fact that I follow one of the victims on Twitter came to my attention less than 24 hours after the attack. Twitter is a relatively autonomous social networking platform but it still shook me. It was a tangible link, a personal connection to an eighteen-year-old girl I had never met but the news of whose death definitely affected me more than reports of other recent terrorist attacks. Manchester’s community spirit has been truly inspirational and something they can be deeply proud of. It is this unity which will help the city move forward and, in time, start to heal. In the darkest of times, the good of humanity always shines through.