Manchester attack: How people showed kindness and bravery in the face of unspeakable terror

'Manchester you are a beautiful city. It’s amazing to see so many offers of beds and sofas in a time of need. Truly great to see,' says one resident

Katie Forster
Tuesday 23 May 2017 17:04
Flowers are left in St Ann's Square, Manchester, the day after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children
Flowers are left in St Ann's Square, Manchester, the day after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children

When confronted with the fear and confusion caused by the suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena, ordinary people have reacted with kindness and bravery by helping those in need.

Local residents offered stranded concertgoers places to stay, taxi drivers gave free lifts across the city, and a homeless man rushed to help the wounded just minutes after the blast as Mancunians pulled together in a display of resilience against terror.

More than 60 ambulance crews worked through the night after the devastating attack at an Ariana Grande concert killed 22 and seriously injured 59, including 12 children under the age of 16.

Many children are also believed to be among the dead, with eight-year-old schoolgirl Saffie Roussos and 18-year-old Georgina Callander among the first victims to be named.

Theresa May paid tribute to the members of the public and medical staff who helped in the aftermath of the blast, which took place at around 10.30pm in the foyer of the arena.

“While we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night, we also saw the best. The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester,” said the Prime Minister.

“The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together and in the days ahead, those must be the things that we remember.”

Manchester’s health and social care chief Jon Rouse said it had been a “terrible night and morning” for the city but added: “We have also seen some of the best aspects of Greater Manchester and the people who live there as well”.

Sikh temples in the northern city offered shelter and food to those affected by the bombing.

Four nearby Gurdwaras – Sri Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara Educational and Cultural Centre, Gurdwara Sri Guru Harkrisham Sahib, Dasmesh Sikh Temple and Central Gurdwara Manchester Gurudwaras – all kept their doors open for victims through the night.

Homeless man shares experience of helping victims of Manchester attack after the explosion

“Sikh Temples in Manchester, UK offering food and accommodation. They are open for ALL people,” said Harjinder Kukreja in a Tweet, posting the address of Sikh temples located in the area.

Many other local people took to social media to offer those affected beds for the night, using the hastag #RoomForManchester as police warned people to avoid the area as they investigated the violent incident.

Taxi drivers drove people home for free after public transport networks were shut down.

Black cabs in the centre reportedly worked through the night for free, as did minicab drivers, with one firm, Street Cars, saying: “Anyone stranded in Manchester give us a call, we will take you home or to a safer place”.

Cab drivers in Manchester said they had planned a protest against Uber today, but instead told The Independent they had decided to buy food and drinks and hand them out in the city centre to anyone shaken by the incidents of the night before.

“Manchester you are a beautiful city. It’s amazing to see so many offers of beds and sofas in a time of need. Truly great to see,” wrote Jason Scales on Twitter as the chaos unfolded.

Another user, Chloe Murray, wrote: “Taxis giving free lifts and people opening their homes to the stranded gives me a little more faith in humanity.”

Several hotels and venues in the city centre worked with police to offer spaces to look after people – especially youngsters – who were stuck in the city centre.

Paula Robinson, 48, said she and her husband led a large group of teenage girls to safety after she saw them screaming and running away from the arena after the attack.

A homeless man spoke of the moment a woman died in his arms after he rushed inside to help the victims. Chris Parker, 33, said he regularly begs inside the foyer of Manchester Arena at the end of concerts when people are making their way home.

He was in the foyer at the time of the attack and was knocked to the floor with the force of the explosion, he said.

People queue to give blood at a donation centre in Manchester

Mr Parker described how he first helped a girl who had lost her legs in the blast, before helping the dying woman who had suffered serious leg and head injuries.

“Everyone was piling out, all happy and everything else. As people were coming out of the glass doors I heard a bang and within a split second I saw a white flash, then smoke and then I heard screaming,” he said.

”It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away my gut instinct was to run back and try and help. There was people lying on the floor everywhere.”

Another man called Steve, who is also homeless, told ITV News he and others “had to pull nails out of children’s faces” when they came to help.

Religious leaders have also shown solidarity the day after the attack. “We are Manchester. We are together,” said one rabbi handing out tea for police standing by a cordon, according to Buzzfeed.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association wrote on Twitter: “Kindly contact us if in need of blood donations for victims of Manchester attacks. #WeStandTogether”.

Long queues formed outside the city’s blood donation centre this morning. The NHS said hospitals had enough blood supplies to treat patients including attack victims, but urged worried locals to make an appointment to give blood at a later date.