Almost 18 months after being set up to help victims of the Manchester Arena attack, the We Love Manchester Fund is being scaled down.
The initiative was created just days after the May 2017 bombing in which 22 people attending an Ariana Grande concert were killed, and 250 injured.
In the months since it has received over £20 million from the public.
But from January no more donations will be taken and as trustee Edith Coon has pointed out, the fund “was never intended as a permanent charity, but as an urgent response to people’s immediate needs”.
Over 95% of the cash raised has been distributed to victims, families of the bereaved and various charities, helping them cope with the physical and mental effects of the tragic event.
Here are just five of the ways it has helped...
Giving one family a fresh start
Steve Johnson was waiting for his step-daughters, 18-year-old Gracie, and Evie, 11, when the blast occurred just 20 yards away from him. The girls were unhurt but Steve was left with serious injuries to his chest, ribs, shoulder, shins and thighs, which required a stint in hospital.
When the family learned they would be entitled to money from the relief fund they were determined to “turn a negative into a positive” and used the cash to move to Australia for a fresh start with the girls, and their third child, three-year-old Finley.
“We never felt we deserved any money and would never ask for anything, so we are completely aware of how lucky we are,” Steve said. “It has been hard work for me to fight back physically, but we always had the dream and people’s generosity driving us on.”
Helping two survivors create a film about their experiences
Sisters Jess and Hannah Mone were both treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after surviving the attack while Hannah also received treatment for physical injuries, part-funded by the public’s donations.
As a personal project to help herself process what happened, Hannah filmed her own recovery and rehabilitation, but Jess soon realised the footage could help others too and set to work on what would become the short film, ‘In Bloom’.
“It is all about showing terrorism doesn’t win and the world carried on,” Jess previously explained. “I never dreamed it would be screened, that was never the ambition. I was making something for the two of us and for friends and family.”
‘In Bloom’ premiered in Manchester back in June.
Creating the Manchester Institute For Health partnership
The Fund’s trustees worked with the NHS and the Manchester Institute for Health and Performance (MIHP) to coordinate enhanced treatment and support plans for the most seriously physically injured people from the attack.
Thanks to this, 25 people were given a six month therapy programme at the Institute’s Manchester facility.
And mental health support services have been a priority too
Over £650,000 was allocated for the creation of a support group fund, the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub. The Hub is there for anyone whose mental health or emotional wellbeing has been affected by the attack and individuals who are looking for support can contact them online or via the phone.
Ahead of the first anniversary of the attack, the Hub issued guidelines to help people deal with any stress or upset from the bombing being headline news again, as many television channels and media outlets looked back at what happened.
The fund has been described as “one of the first charities of this kind to offer support specifically for those suffering with psychological injury”.
Supporting any children affected by trauma
Cash has also been allocated for the creation of an animated, educational film, for use in schools, colleges and universities.
The aim of the short, which is due for release by the end of this year, is to help anyone who suffers mental trauma, whatever the cause.
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