Sunday, 28 May 2017

Sometimes it’s OK not to feel OK: and the pain may be real, but so is the hope

Like many people, my thoughts have been with all those affected by last Mondays arena attack. And there were many people. Those who lost friends; families who lost children, wives and husbands, and the many victims who were injured, some critically. I thought about the first responders and all the emergency services, who did a magnificent job right from the start as well rehearsed plans were put into action. I thought about the many ordinary people, men and women who unasked, offered their help on the evening and in the following days. Like me, I suspect that many of these people will need to find ways to deal with the senselessness and horror of what they saw or had to deal with, and I suspect that won’t always be easy.

Shortly after 22.30 last Monday, a lone, cowardly, callous killer, denoted a bomb, killing 22 people and injuring many others as they were leaving a concert at the Manchester Arena. It was a devastating attack that seemed deliberately aimed at an event where most of the audience were children and young people. Why the killer chose to attack so many innocent people is not known. The ongoing police investigation appears to suggest an active terrorist network was involved, and many arrests have been made.

In the days that followed, there were many more people who wanted, or perhaps needed to show and share their hurt, anger and their pain. Yet there were also those who wanted to stand tall, stand together in defiance, and solidarity. Vigils have been held across many parts of Greater Manchester and in othe parts of the UK. Very quickly, St Anne's Square, a short distance from the Manchester Arena, became the focal point for people to come and pay their respects, to leave flowers and messages, pray, to just be there in an acknowledgement of grief, and to share the humanity of others suffering.

Resilience was a word I heard mentioned a great deal last week. I was pleased that emotional and psychological support was offered, and not just to those families and communities directly affected by the attack, but also to the many professionals who were involved in providing care in the immediate hours following the attack. They may be professionals who demonstrated their knowledge and skills so expertly when called upon to do so, but they are also humans as well. Like the rest of us, they are parents, brother, sisters, and partners.  It would be impossible to think that in the safety and quietness of their own homes many people didn’t reflect on what they had seen, heard, or even what they knew might be yet to come for so many other people. 

I was so pleased to see the words ‘it’s OK not to feel OK’ used to good effect in offering mental health care and support. Likewise there was great advice over how we could reassure and discuss the attack with our children, to help allay their fears and anxieties. And reassuringly there was much evidence of how people across all of Manchester and beyond wanted to show how diverse communities can come together in adversity and build upon strong community relationships to create a better future for all.  Last week was one of devastation and pain for so many people. Many people across the Manchester communities and beyond will have been deeply affected by what happened. However, whilst the pain is real, so is the hope. #WeStandTogetherManchester