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The opposite of fear and hate is courage and love.

 

Manchester Arena Attack: ParentFolk thoughts.  (Words By Laura Garner)

I’m sure we all had ‘that’ moment yesterday.

The moment where we hugged our kids and thanked the moon and stars they were not at the Mancester Arena on Monday night.

I’m sure within that moment we also squeezed our eyes tight and thought of the utter horror and sheer disbelief, grief and torment of the families affected by the terror attack in Manchester.

We have all at some point, I’m sure, either attended ourselves or taken an excited pre-teen to a concert at this iconic venue (the second largest concert venue in Europe as reported by the BBC).

My first ever concert was at just nine years old, poignantly at the Manchester Arena, with a group of my best friends from primary school. It was 1994 and we were watching 911.

Not only were we travelling to the bright lights of the city from a small village outside of Chester (Backford) but we also were getting a chance to watch our pop idols on stage, wearing every bit of merchandise we had collected throughout their glorious reign over the air waves.

They were the stars, we were the fans, Manchester Arena was the venue. Fast forward nearly 25 years and I’m on the other side of the fanzone (parent side). It was such a pleasure as I watched so many friends take their children to watch X Factor winners and all round girly supergroup Little Mix at the inaugural Wirral Live over the weekend.

What fun they had tying their hair in cosmic buns and sporting the latest denim jackets emblazoned with gems and band t-shirts covered in glitter. It was enchanting thinking they were feeling those same emotions, that excitement that I once felt all those years ago.

And so to Manchester, where so many children, pre-teens, parents and music fans descended onto the Manchester Arena to watch their idols. To sing, to dance, to laugh and enjoy the music of 2017’s pop idol du jour, Ariana Grande. Bunny ears, pink balloons, empowering lyrics and the atmosphere filling the auditorium space with such enigmatic energy. And then, barbarism in its most wicked, inhumane form.

Lives lost, childhoods destroyed, families shattered, dark memories solidified in one cruel senseless act. The terror described by those who were there, the images across our TV screens, and the raw and emotional media interviews will stay imprinted on our minds.

Yesterday morning Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council said Manchester is “ a proud, strong city and we will not allow terrorists who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims”.

So, if like us you are faced with talking to your children about the atrocities that occurred in Manchester, may we speak more of love than of hate, more about community than about division.

Let’s share with them the brave stories of those who offered first aid to the injured inside the venue, of the free rooms and free taxi rides home offered by local businesses, the water and cups of Manchester tea that were offered by residents close by, about the community solidarity shown at last nights Manchester vigil. Mostly lets speak of the way in which the city pulled together to show it’s support in what Greater Manchester Police have described as its ‘darkest hour in recent history’.

We can’t stop going to concerts, neither can we nor should we stop riding the Underground, travelling by plane or living our way of life. We are British and yes ‘keep calm and carry on’ is at our core, it’s what we do, it’s in our DNA. Now is the time to be brave, to stand strong and to unite as we always do, especially in challenging and uncertain times like these.

There are little eyes looking to us as parents for reassurance that life as they know it will carry on – and it will.

Words By Laura Garner.

A minute’s silence will be held tomorrow (Thursday 25th May) at 11am.

A JustGiving page has been set up to support families of those killed and injured in the Manchester Arena attack. You can donate here

NSPCC have published advice to help parents to talk to children about terrorism: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/talking-about-difficult-topics/

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