Monday night’s horrific bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, was the latest in a series of devastating terrorist attacks that have brought out the best and worst in humanity. Amidst all the acts of kindness offered by Mancunians to victims of the attack, from free lifts to blood drives, two men’s bravery stood out above the rest.
Stephen Jones, a homeless man who was sleeping near the concert venue, awoke to a loud bang, but instead of running away from the commotion he entered the scrum of fleeing concertgoers.
Jones described taking nails out of young girls’ arms, and their faces. He and his friends helped a woman who was bleeding profusely, holding her legs up so they wouldn’t bleed out as the EMT approached.
In an interview with ITV News, Jones described why he felt compelled to help the victims.
“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking away and leaving kids like that,” he said. “They needed the help, I’d like to think someone would come and help me if I needed the help.”
"Just because I am homeless doesn’t mean I haven’t got a heart," Jones told ITV.
He wasn’t the only homeless man in the area who risked his safety to help others affected by the tragedy.
The Independent spoke with Chris Parker, who was also near the concert venue at the time of the attack. Parker was in front of the venue to ask concertgoers for spare change when the blast hit.
“Everyone was piling out, all happy and everything else,” he told the Independent. “As people were coming out of the glass doors I heard a bang and within a split second I saw a white flash, then smoke and then I heard screaming.”
After rushing inside the building, Parker held a dying woman in his arms and helped a young girl whose legs were blown off by the blast by wrapping her in a merchandise t-shirt.
“I haven’t stopped crying,” he said.
Far from becoming unsung heroes, the two men’s bravery was hailed by Mancunians, who in turn rushed to their aid through the help of social media.
Multiple crowdfunding campaigns have been started to help the two homeless men get back on their feet. As of this writing, a JustGiving campaign for Jones has raised over £20,000 ($25,000) and a GoFundMe campaign for Parker raised over £30,000 ($38,000), blowing away the initial goal of £1,000.
The co-owner of the West Ham United soccer team, David Sullivan, and his son, Dave Sullivan Jr., took to Twitter to seek out Jones — offering him housing for six months.
Me and dad want to rent the homeless man in manchester a house for 6 months to help him get on his feet 1/2— DAVE SULLIVAN JNR (@DaveSulley) May 23, 2017
If anyone can help us get in touch much much appreciated. Such a self less act needs rewarding. Please tag anyone who can help us 💪🏼 2/2— DAVE SULLIVAN JNR (@DaveSulley) May 23, 2017
In times of such tragedy, it is the Stephen Joneses and Chris Parkers of the world who will be remembered more than the act of terrorism itself. They have shown, once again, the power of humanity in the face of hate and destruction.