Are we doing enough for Manchester Arena survivors?
‘Imagine lying on the floor and you’re holding on and you’ve done everything you possibly can to stay alive’
Dear Millers — welcome to this week’s briefing. Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the Manchester Arena Bombing — and raised questions about the support we give to victims of major atrocities. We also have some great recommendations for the week ahead, including a photography exhibition documenting the Brazilian Amazon by the world-renowned Sebastião Salgado, and some Ethiopian jazz at Band on The Wall.
On Saturday, we published a brilliant, colourful piece by writer Frank Owen about the Ranch, a gay bar in Manchester that saw the likes of Buzzcocks and Joy Division flourish. “It’s also true that at some point in the evening, some double doors would open up and in would swan Foo Foo Lamar, resplendent in white satin diamanté encrusted evening gown and tiara, and survey the room of steaming sweating punk revellers,” commented one reader.
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This week’s weather
Our weatherman Martin Miles is forecasting a “windy and cool” week ahead, but has better news for a warmer weekend.
Tuesday 🌦 Windy with bright spells and blustery showers AM. Drier with sunny spells PM. Cool throughout. Max 15°c.
Wednesday 🌧 A wet start with spells of rain. Turning drier and brighter during the afternoon but there will be gusty winds up to 40mph. Max 15°c.
Thursday 🌦 Windy with bright spells and blustery showers. Max 15°c.
Friday 🌥 Warmer and mostly dry with hazy intervals of sunshine. Max 18°c.
Weekend Dry and settled with pleasantly warm temperatures up to 20°c.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook. Daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: Five years on from the Manchester Arena Bombing
Top line: Yesterday marked five years since the Manchester arena attack. A minute’s applause was held before the Great Manchester Run, and hundreds attended a service at Victoria Station before paying their respects at the Glade of Light memorial.
At 10.31pm yesterday evening — the time the bomb detonated — Manchester Cathedral’s bells rang out for a minute’s silence. Other tributes were made in the lead-up to the anniversary, including on the soap Coronation Street.
On Friday 20th, the episode saw onscreen rivals Gail Platt and Eileen Grimshaw come together to place bouquets on a memorial bench in Trafford. In the scene, Gail said: "It could have been any one of us, couldn't it? Any one of us from this street". Eileen responded: "Our kids, grandkids."
Martyn Hett, who died during the attack, was a “huge fan” of the soap and had a tattoo of former show character Deirdre Barlow on his leg.
In the five years since the attack, an inquiry has scrutinised the responses of emergency and security services, and the motivations of the attack’s perpetrators.
Yesterday was the first anniversary since the publication of the inquiry’s first report on arena security, and since the hearings on the emergency response, which were damning.
Members of the public were left to tend to victims for 26 minutes.
Paramedics took 44 minutes to arrive.
Fire and rescue took two hours.
Andrew Roussos, the father of Saffie-Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the attack, told The Times:
Imagine lying on the floor and you’re holding on and you’ve done everything you possibly can to stay alive and the system lets you down.
Aftercare for victims and their families has been another cause for concern in the years following the attack. A recent report found that young survivors of the Arena attack were “re-traumatised” by a lack of support from schools and GPs.
This extends to victims’ families too. Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, has campaigned in the years since the campaign to establish Martyn’s Law — recently proposed in the Queen’s speech — which would give venues a duty to secure against terror attacks. She said:
When you're involved in a terrorist attack so much happens to you, you're in total freefall. And there's just, at the moment, hardly any support around.
Figen and her husband Stuart are working with Survivors Against Terror to introduce a survivors charter, which would give terror attack survivors and their families enhanced access to mental health support and financial assistance schemes.
The inquiry’s second report, into the response of the emergency services, is due out in the summer.
Home of the week
This charming 3-bed house in Hyde needs a full interior refurbishment and has a sizeable garden plot. It’s on the market for £375,000.
Your Mill news briefing
Manchester City will be embarking on their open bus parade this evening after their Premier League victory. The 1.5km route starts at Exchange Square at around 6pm, finishing at the presentation stage outside Beetham Tower. If you’re walking home from work, expect a very lively crowd. Following City’s win, two fans have been charged with offences after the mass pitch invasion — one man, 28, from Knowsley, has been charged with throwing a pyrotechnic.
A major report into poverty in Greater Manchester has found that the region’s economy is taking an outsized hit in comparison to the rest of the country. GM Poverty Action’s CEO Graham Whitham told The Mill: “The number of outlets like food banks and food clubs supporting people on low incomes with basic food needs in Greater Manchester has doubled in the last five years.” It highlights pockets of serious deprivation in more affluent boroughs like Stockport and Trafford — more than three in ten children in the Old Trafford area are living in poverty, and women in Brinnington, Stockport, have the lowest life expectancy in Greater Manchester.
Is the Manchester living rent about to become a reality? Locals are now being asked for their views on the Rodney Street development in Ancoats, the first housing development led by ThisCity, the council’s own housing company. 30% of the scheme will be available for the Manchester Living Rent, which means the rent will be set below the level used for housing benefit. For central GM, that is currently £598.35pcm for a one-bed. It comes at a time when more people than ever are living in temporary homeless accommodation in Manchester. This weekend The Meteor reported a 42% increase in the time homeless households were spending in temporary accommodation in two years; from 358 days in 2016/17 to 508 days in 2018/19.
The City Centre Active Travel scheme has entered its second consultation stage. Proposals include new pedestrian crossings, wider footways and segregated cycleways on Whitworth Street, Fairfield Street and London Road. Some existing cycleways will also be extended to as far as Chorlton, and some new cycle links will be “all-reds” for cars, meaning only cyclists will be travelling those routes.
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Our favourite reads
We thought this was a poignant piece from 2020, about Manchester Arena Bombing survivor Freya Lewis who was 14 when the attack happened. Her best friend Nell, who had been arm-in-arm with Freya when the bomb went off, died. “I feel like she’s with me now. Everywhere I go and everything I do, she’s there beside me. I’ll just continue taking her everywhere I go with me in life.”
Manchester City won the Premier League on Sunday, and we enjoyed this report from The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew, who was there when the drama unfolded. “As delirious fans hurdled the barriers and poured on to the great green expanse, as the goalframe into which City had scored three goals in five minutes caved and snapped under the weight of the throngs atop it, you could already sense the events of the afternoon passing into legend.”
Turning back home — Big Issue North
Novelist Carol Birch grew up in Gorton, and went to Manchester Central Grammar for Girls in the mid-1960s. In an interview with Antonia Charlesworth, she explains how the music from her childhood was evoked in her new book Shadow Girls. “Tunes like the fanciful folk ditty Marianina, operatic caper I Have Twelve Oxen, and Schubert’s paean to river fish, The Trout. ‘Funny old things that you don’t hear anymore,’ is how Birch describes them before giving a too brief rendition of the start of Marianina.”
The Haçienda saved Manchester — UnHerd
In case you hadn’t got your fill of great music journalism over the weekend, Dave Haslam wrote about the Haçienda on what would have been its 40th birthday. “The artist Jeremy Deller once gifted me a brick wrapped in newspaper. It was from a demolished factory building in Salford that had been co-founded in 1837 by the father of Friedrich Engels,” writes Haslam.
Our to do list
🍄 There’s an interesting talk called the Science of Magic Mushrooms at the Friends Meeting House. Apparently, these funky fungi are leading the “psychedelic renaissance” and hold the answers on how to treat depression and improve wellbeing. Starts 6.45pm. Book here.
📚 The translators of the International Booker Prize shortlist will discuss their work with host Ellah Wakatama at Blackwell’s Bookshop. Includes Fitzcarraldo titles such as A New Name by Jon Fosse. Starts 6.45pm. Book here.
📷 The Science and Industry Museum is exhibiting Amazônia, by world-renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado. The exhibition celebrates the indigenous peoples and landscapes of the Brazilian Amazon. Info here.
✍ Celebrate the winners of the 2021 Manchester Writing Competition with a drinks reception and readings from the finalists at the Manchester Metropolitan Grosvenor East Building. Starts 7pm. Book here.
😄 Manchester Friendship Festival brings together newly-arrived Hongkongers and Manchester residents. There will be food, activities for children and music. Starts 11am. Book here.
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Letters to the editor
Really interesting piece (‘The misfits and mavericks of Manchester’s punk HQ’), I didn't start visiting Manchester till 1980, but the spirit of The Ranch existed in various little clubs across the city. I like your homage to 'Glad to be gay'. Fascinating story. Harry
It’s also true that at some point in the evening (‘The misfits and mavericks of Manchester’s punk HQ’), some double doors would open up and in would swan Foo Foo Lamar, resplendent in white satin diamanté encrusted evening gown and tiara, and survey the room of steaming sweating punk revellers. He’d check with the bar staff that all was cool then disappear back to his club next door. Quite bizarre and unforgettable. That’s probably enough from my memory banks but, as an important part of the early culture that was to grow into Madchester, I sometimes wonder why there’s no blue plaque. Paul, Stockport
I loved the article about the death cafe (‘Tackling taboos over tea and cake’) and hope they become an accepted part of our culture in due course. It's about time people grew up and accepted that death is indeed a part of life. Where I would really like some change to be seen is funerals. Either you get the ones that are fully intent on celebrating the deceased's life to the extent that you feel you don't have permission to mourn their absence. Or you get the more conventional funerals where the eulogies are so fulsome that you really don't recognise the person you knew with all their faults, and wonder if you have come to the wrong funeral. Elaine, Bury