Immediately following the explosion in the final moments of an Ariana Grande performance at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, stories of horror and destruction surfaced as the death toll rose to 22, with more than 120 music lovers among those brutally injured by the blast. With almost the same speed, the accounts of devastation were countered by outpourings of kindness and support from surrounding people and communities.
One notable example is the efforts of homeless bystander Chris Parker, who was outside the arena begging for change from concertgoers. Blown back by the explosion when it hit at approximately 10:35pm that evening, Chris then witnessed the injured making their way out of the arena and raced to help.
In addition to carrying a little girl who lost her legs in the blast, 33-year-old Chris, who has been sleeping on the streets for about a year, also cradled a woman in her sixties as she lay dying.
“She passed away in my arms,” he told UK news outlets. “I haven’t stopped crying.” (A GoFundMe page has been set up for Chris and has just tipped £21,665 at the time of posting).
Businesses in the area have also rallied around the victims, the attendees and their families. Sam Arshad, from Street Cars Manchester, instructed his taxi drivers to turn off their metres in order to help people flee the scene quickly.
“The audience was a very young audience, and there were a lot of people there without their parents,” he told the BBC. “And it’s then that people were requesting taxis, but they didn’t have money. It was at that point that I made the decision that money isn’t everything in life and we’re part of Manchester and we need to do our part to make sure these people get home safe and sound.”
Homes in the area also offered space for concertgoers with the hashtag #RoomForManchester to help those who had travelled from around the country for the evening’s performance, volunteers have brought in food and supplies and local tattoo artists are already planning a fundraiser: for anyone who visits and requests a worker bee – a symbol of the steadfast Mancunian spirit – parlours like StudioIX will donate £50 to an appeal for the families of the victims.
If you’d like to donate to help the families of victims, visit this JustGiving page.