‘Small acts of kindness’ follow city’s attack

Helping hands: They “embody the spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain”. © Getty

Manchester’s attack was an act of evil hate. But the reaction was a tide of goodness, of free rooms, hugs, taxis and cups of tea. Isn’t this the real story that we should all focus on?

Chris Parker has been sleeping rough for around a year. On Monday night he was begging inside the foyer of Manchester Arena, when he heard a terrible bang. A white flash of light. He was knocked backwards. He heard screaming.

A suicide bomber had detonated a “homemade” device at the end of the Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people.

But Parker did not run from the chaos. “My gut instinct was to run back and try and help,” he told Press Association yesterday. He found a lost girl and wrapped her in a t-shirt. Later, he held a woman in her 60s as she passed away. “I haven’t stopped crying,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paula Robinson had been inside Manchester Victoria railway station, which is next door to the arena, when she felt the blast. She then saw teenage girls running from the venue. She led them to safety at a nearby hotel, and posted their location on social media for worried parents. “We will look after them,” she wrote.

As news of the violence spread, locals took to Twitter to offer spare rooms, car rides or hot drinks to stranded fans using the hashtag #RoomforManchester. “I just wanna help people if they need it!” wrote one user, Jesy.

Taxi drivers began offering free rides in the city centre. “I’ve had people who needed to find loved ones. I’ve dropped them off to the hospital,” said AJ Singh. “We’re glue and we stick together when it counts.”

Throughout yesterday, stories of human kindness flooded in. The city was in mourning, but its citizens were queuing up to donate blood at local blood banks. Families and cafes were handing out free food and drinks to emergency services. The Manchester Evening News set up a crowdfunder which raised over £500,000 for families of the victims in just 24 hours.

“While we experienced the worst of humanity in Manchester last night, we also saw the best,” said Prime Minister Theresa May. “The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together.”

Should these stories, rather than death and destruction, have appeared on front pages today?

#WeStandTogether

Yes, say some. The people we should be thinking about today are the attack’s victims, and the everyday heroes who helped them. Why should newspapers focus on the actions of one evil person, when hundreds more revealed the true goodness of humanity? This story is not “Manchester attacked”, it is “Manchester responds with kindness.”

That is a nice thought, say others, but it is not how the news works. Yes, the world is full of good people — but that is what makes the attacker’s actions all the more terrible. It is natural for people to want to understand who he was, what made him do this, and how to stop it from happening again.

You Decide

  1. How do you feel after reading these stories?
  2. After a terrorist attack, should newspapers focus more on the victims, the person responsible, or the people who helped?

Activities

  1. With a partner compare the front pages of today’s newspapers. (You can usually find a collection online.) Which do you think responded best to Monday night’s attack?
  2. Create your own front page about the incident. Will you focus on the attacker, the helpers, or something else?

Some People Say...

“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The attack in Manchester was leading the international news throughout yesterday. Several politicians praised the response of bystanders and emergency services. Currently, police have confirmed that 22 people have been killed and 59 injured. The names of three victims and the perpetrator have been released to the public. A vigil in Manchester’s Albert Square was attended by thousands of people last night.
What do we not know?
Whether the attacker was acting alone, or what his motivations were. We also do not know how many people took advantage of the help offered by the #RoomforManchester tweets, or exact numbers of how many taxi drivers and cafes were offering free services in the immediate aftermath.

Word Watch

Suicide bomber
The man responsible has been identified as a 22-year-old named Salmen Ramadan Abedi. The police do not yet know if he was working alone or if he had help.
22 people
The police have confirmed that there are children among those killed. So far, the victims who have been named are Georgina Callender, John Atkinson and Saffie Roussos. At least 59 people were injured.
Twitter
The social network had several offers of help for stranded fans, as well as appeals from parents hoping to locate missing children. However, the site also contained many instances of deliberate fake news, including tweets asking for help finding people who were not actually missing.
Taxi drivers
Sam Arshad, of StreetCars Manchester, was also interviewed about his decision to ask his drivers to give free lifts. “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.”
Donate blood
Eventually the NHS said that it had enough blood to deal with the crisis, and asked people only to attend if they had pre-booked an appointment.

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