The Republic

There's a banner that hangs in a stadium in Trafford. Enemy territory for me usually, but occasionally something happens that makes you drop silly sports rivalries. The banner, centre stage, in the theatre of dreams... Republik of Mancunia.

I never understood it - I assume it's something to do with Manchester United winning the Champions League in Moscow... but it came to mind this week when the city I love came together.

On Monday night, 10:33, while I wiled away another night on PES 2017, evil arrived in my hometown. Extremism. Terror. The news filtered through that "an incident" had occurred at the Manchester Arena. Immediately the rumour mill was going. A speaker had exploded, a balloon had burst, nobody was quite sure but deep down, straight away, we all knew.

The initial reports didn't mention fatalities, so it was easy to brush off, but it was becoming clear that something horrible had happened in our city. My phone was lighting up, so the news had to go on. Ariana Grande concert... children. Worse still, confirmation - death.

As the news sped up, it became more and more clear. Words like attack, bomb, terror were being bandied about and, like many, I sat aghast - stunned at what was unfolding... and during that time. Heroes were stepping up.

Paramedics and first responders, police officers, members of the public in my city. Stories of individual calm amidst the chaos and confusion of thousands of people running for their lives started to filter through. A lady was collecting lost children and gathering them into one safe place, members of the public selflessly were darting into the scene to provide whatever help they could, people were opening their homes to anyone who needed it. Taxi drivers were driving strangers tens of miles for no fare at all - just to get them out of danger.

I don't want to spend too long dwelling on the details - they've been burned into our brains enough the past few days - but rather I want to focus on the response of my city. Individual acts of community and love are occurring (still four days after the attack) all over the place. Ethnic and religious walls are tumbling as we all come together as Mancunians.

Proud doesn't even begin to cover it - I knew my city was strong and resilient. I knew it was focused and industrious and beautiful - but never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd see such unity on the streets of this great city.

It's not just here - people from all over the world are showing their solidarity for the people who lost their lives in such a mindless act of chaos and terror. The love that's been shown in the past few days has been truly staggering, and its tough to put into words how much it's galvanised a community.

We're different - we are. We worship different gods, we have different political ideals, we come from different backgrounds but we all share a common thing here - we're resilient, we're proud. Proud of the people who helped that night and proud of the way the world has reacted to this horror.

A quick scan of Twitter will confirm that for you - people are still doing beautiful things for the cause. They're raising money (over £4,000,000 at this point) for the victims of the tragedy, they're showing their support in other ways like tattooing the industrial symbol of the city onto themselves. They're doing things to make a difference to the families of the victims - people with life changing injuries or with funeral expenses that now need to be covered.

When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, Manchester stood up as one this week. You can come at us, but you'll never beat us. That's the message coming out of the greatest city in the world this week and it's as inspiring a message as I've ever felt course through me. We are one city, we are the city. We are Manchester and we're stronger than anything you can throw at us.

 

If you want to donate the cause you can do it at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester