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Children affected by Manchester Arena attack urged to share experiences

A general view of The Glade of Light Memorial commemorating the Manchester Arena attack victims (Jon Super/PA)
A general view of The Glade of Light Memorial commemorating the Manchester Arena attack victims (Jon Super/PA)

Children affected by the Manchester Arena terror attack are being urged to share their experiences of the support they have received since the atrocity.

The findings from an easy-to-complete online survey is aimed at identifying what help will be most beneficial to future young survivors of similar incidents.

It forms part of the ground-breaking project, Bee The Difference, a collaboration between nine young survivors from the 2017 attack, the National Emergencies Trust and researchers from Lancaster University.

Lead researcher Dr Cath Hill, a lecturer at the university and also co-founder of the Manchester Survivors Choir made up of attack survivors, said: “I know through my experience with the choir that young people affected by the Manchester attack have sought support in a range of places, their GP, counsellors, teachers, social groups and social media.

“Some of this was incredibly helpful, some of it missed the mark completely, while some measures taken inadvertently introduced more trauma.

“Five years on it’s time to start to talk about this and make sure young people who experience similar events in the future get the best possible care.”

Ellie Taylor, 20, who was 15 when she was caught up in the attack, said: “Bee The Difference is a chance to take something that changed our lives completely in a negative way and turn it into something positive for the future.

“The questionnaire isn’t invasive.

“It’s not about your personal story and what you went through.

“It’s just a few questions to find out what worked mentally for you, and what didn’t help, so we can find out what needs to happen in the future.”

Manchester Arena attack anniversary
Armed police at the Manchester Arena (Peter Byrne/PA)

Fellow project designer, Ava Turner, 16, who was 10 when she was traumatised by the events at the Arena, said: “This project is about saying our opinions are valid.

“They are extremely valid and they do need to be brought up at some point.

“They can’t be hidden forever.”

The chief executive of the disaster response charity National Emergencies Trust, Mhairi Sharp, said: “Only those who have lived through an act of terror can truly understand the needs of those affected, which is why this project gives a vital voice to young Manchester survivors.

“The findings will inform the way our charity gives financial gifts to those affected by terror attacks.

“But we hope it will also provide insights to enable all areas of society to provide the best possible support to children and young people who are affected by terrorism in future.”

Later this year the anonymised survey findings will be shared with various organisations including government, healthcare and education providers and other civic and charitable bodies.

The nine young researchers who helped design the study have created a YouTube video to raise awareness including singing their own arrangement of Beyonce’s Listen.

The survey is open to anyone aged under 18 at the time whose lives were affected including those impacted by what happened to a loved one or friend, as well as those who were present at the Arena when the attack happened.

Further details of the survey are available from www.nationalemergenciestrust.org.uk/beethedifference