[I’ve been debating if I should write this at all, but writing seems to be one of the few things that helps me cope these days]
On 22nd May 2017, at 10.30pm, Manchester’s heart was broken. A man – that I refuse to name because he doesn’t deserve to be talked about – made a decision that caused unspeakable devastation. He targeted the end of Ariana Grande’s gig at Manchester Arena, and took 22 lives and injured many more.
I had friends, friends of friends, and colleagues at the Arena that night. Out of respect for what they’re going through, I’m not going to name names or talk about any specifics.
What I will say is, it hit far too close to home for me. I started out in the Events Industry, I know emergency protocol, I’ve been trained to deal with worst-case scenarios. And that’s before even talking about the city I have called home for the last 5 years. As bizarre as it sounds, as soon as I moved to Manchester I fell for it. I fell in love with the places, the history, the music, and most importantly… the people. It felt like I had finally found… home.
For Mancunians – and adopted Mancunians – terrorism has broken out heart, ripped apart our soul, and made us question everything we hold dear. I know there’s the 5 stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. But do they speak for a city? After all… “This is Manchester. We do things differently here.” Shock hit us first. Not our city. It doesn’t happen here. Now we’re a city full of a mixture of anger and grief. Grieving for the lives which have been destroyed, or changed forever. Anger that terrorism should have the sheer audacity to target our city, target our women and children. This is Manchester.
But every member of our wonderful city is fighting back, not with hate but with love. Instantly #MissingManchester #MissingInManchester became a way to help track down loved ones, and #RoomForManchester gave people a place to go. The Facebook Safety Check became an accessible way to let people know that you were ok, and requests and offers of help soon populated my notifications. Holiday Inn took in as many lost children as they could. At the vigil days after the attack, we chose to stand united as a city. People came in their thousands to show that we won’t be beaten. St Ann’s Square became a place to pay your respects, a place to morn. The GMP twitter and the MEN live feed became a vital way to find out legit information.
As I’m writing this, the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund set up by the MEN – part of their ‘We Stand Together’ appeal – has raised over £5,000,000. More and more businesses are donating what they can to help. The #OneLoveManchester gig will take place 04.06.17, with Ticketmaster and Ebay trying to crack down on resale tickets and Uber donating and matching any fares on the day to the emergency fund. The Manchester Bee Tattoo Appeal alone has raised £242,844. Last weekend was a huge deal for sporting events in the city, and thousands still came to the street to show their support.
My point is… There’s no words for what’s happened. There’s nothing I can say to bring those lost back, to stop peoples pain. But this has shown me the strength of the city I will always call home. It’s united young and old, men and women, and every faith that belongs here. We are Manchester. We will stand together. Terrorism will not win, it has no place in our city.
Now… I’ll leave you with the words of poet Tony Walsh.