NEWS

One year after Manchester Arena attack, community gathers to remember those affected and share ‘spirit of solidarity’

May 22, 2018 marks the one-year anniversary of the tragic Manchester Arena bombing.

On May 22, 2017 Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena as an Ariana Grande concert let out, killing 22 people and injuring 240 more. The perpetrator died in the attack. This horrific incident prompted widespread community mobilization as the city rallied to transport and house those left stranded and later as they tried to maintain unity and held a number of interfaith vigils. In the days following the attack, a benefit concert headlined by Ariana Grande raised £18 million for the “We Love Manchester” fund which donated money to victims and their families.

In the same vein, the anniversary has also been marked by community gatherings to remember the victims, share their stories, and listen to services by a variety of spiritual leaders.

Just a few months before this anniversary, Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins traveled to Boston, Massachusetts and spoke at the Global Resilience Research Network Summit, sharing a reflective piece he wrote eight weeks after the incident called, “From Crisis to Confidence.” His memories of that day touched on the moments immediately following the attack, the community resilience that arose, and the importance of working with the public and taking care of mental health after major trauma.

“It started as a normal day and ended as a day never to be forgotten,” he said, adding; “Never have I felt the weight of leadership as I did at that moment.”

The full video of his remarks can be viewed below

After the bombing, Manchester’s City Council set up counseling services for those who were affected. In his remarks at the summit, Hopkins spoke about the further efforts to help all of the individuals who responded after the attack, especially those who may have witnessed trauma in the past, which can have a cumulative effect. He noted, “you’re getting vicarious trauma from seeing things on social media and TV…when you have a disaster now people don’t just run they film it,” which can especially impact young people. Coping with this mental trauma is a key part of community recovery, he said.

“My colleagues, they ran towards danger, they worked incredibly long hours, they made critical decisions, they cared, they cried and some saw things that no human being should ever have to see,” Hopkins described. “Some are so young and have whole careers ahead of them. We have to look after them and provide appropriate support so they can continue to serve.”

In addition, despite the efforts of the city to maintain unity after the bombing, there was an initial reported surge in hate crimes for the month following. Hopkins acknowledged that while some communities don’t trust the police, “communities defeat terrorism and we need people to come forward and give us information,” so building that trust is key, he stressed. Efforts are continuing to work with diverse communities for both prevention and recovery.

 

“It was a crisis,” Hopkins described of that night. “It was unthinkable mass murder. It needed a human response to recognize both the severity of what we were facing and that families had their lives changed forever that night.”

Sources and Further Reading

Kerslake findings: emergency responses to Manchester Arena attackThe Guardian

Big thoughts about resilience and urgency (Practitioner’s view of needs)Global Resilience Institute

Manchester attack: Hundreds gather to remember victimsBBC News

Manchester Resilience HubNHS

Manchester attack: Islamophobic hate crime reports increase by 500%BBC News

Manchester Arena attack: families of 22 people killed to get £250,000 eachThe Guardian

Multi-faith vigil held in St Ann’s Square in memory of Manchester attack victimsManchester Evening News

Manchester attack: What we know so farBBC News

[Featured image: Courtesy Greater Manchester Police / Twitter “@gmpolice: More Our thoughts are with all of those who were affected by the Manchester Arena attack this time last year #Westandtogether”]