Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Warmth and Reassurance for the Many Who Need It

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Warmth and Reassurance for the Many Who Need It

Article excerpt

To help people cope with the emotion of returning to the Arena, The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace organised a special support room. The M.E.N's Helen Johnson was there...

IT is Saturday, September 9 and thousands of people are making their way into Manchester Arena for the first time since May. The We Are Manchester benefit concert is a big night for our city.

The defiance and pride which have marked Manchester's response is much in evidence.

For many the sight of Arena staff in those distinctive yellow jackets is enough to reassure, helped by a large but unobtrusive police presence. But for others visiting the Arena is a daunting moment. Some in the crowd were at the Ariana Grande gig, others had friends who were injured. Emotions run high with many - including security staff - in tears.

A support room has been set up in Suite 28 - an executive box just off the main concourse right behind the stage. It is being run by The Survivors Assistance Network, part of the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, in Warrington.

In the box we can hear everything that's happening on the stage below, but it feels like we're in a protective bubble. Close enough to feel part of what is going on, but far enough removed from the heat and the noise of the crowd to feel calm and secure.

The first visitor is Charlotte Campbell who lost her daughter Olivia, 15, in the attack. She chats quietly to staff. Soon more people arrive. It is striking how young they are. They are teenage girls almost all wearing branded sweatshirts from the One Love concert or Ariana Grande tour. Many have been crying.

I came to concerts here when I was their age and I can't help but think how desperately unfair it is that they've been robbed of something they should be able to take for granted - the right to go to a concert without feeling scared.

What's happening in the room isn't formal therapy - although everyone who comes in will get follow-up support from the foundation if they feel they need it.

Instead, foundation chief executive Nick Taylor and his team offer to make brews and have a friendly chat. They are so warm and reassuring. …

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