25/09/2017 - Published by

A number of the families of those who died at the Arena are also involved in our #WeStandTogether campaign. Here’s what they had to say:

Sam Jones’, Nell’s older brother says he believes it is something the 14-year-old would have wanted to be involved in herself.

The schoolgirl was known for her kind-hearted personality, and would often be the one helping to resolve disputes and build bridges.

“Nell was one of those people that really couldn’t be doing with anyone being mean to anyone else,” Sam said.

“She wasn’t that type of person. She would always be the one going round, building the bridges and making sure that whoever was being picked on was okay.

“She was very much that way inclined, and I know she would definitely be all for being involved in something like the #WeStandTogether campaign, saying something similar to what I’m saying.

“For us, it’s great to be able to be involved in something that Nell would’ve wanted to be involved in and take her chapter forward and make something positive come from this whole mess.”

Since the atrocity on May 22, hate crime has risen across Greater Manchester, and Sam is keen to send a message that what happened that night should not be used as an excuse to cause more pain.

He added: “We are very keen as a family to make sure that people don’t go out abusing other people because of what happened to Nell, using her as an excuse to justify their own aims.

“We don’t want any more harm to come to anyone.

“Instead we’ve got to make people think about how they treat others and the effect that it may have on them.

“At the end of the day, if everyone in the world took a little more time to listen, to talk, to understand other people’s opinions then we wouldn’t have any of these issues that we have today.

“It’s a big task, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and hopefully this campaign will be that starting point.”

Speaking on behalf of Alison Howe’s family her cousin Gareth Wrigley said the campaign’s message was one that he has taught his own children.

He said: “I definitely support it. I try and teach my own children that we are all individuals and we are all special in our own different way, regardless of colour, sexuality, gender, whatever. “Everybody is their own person and wouldn’t it be nice if everyone could be happy all the time.”

Charlotte Campbell, Olivia’s mum, is encouraging others to get behind the campaign and says that a simple act of kindness can go along way.

She added: “Manchester is a strong city that has been made stronger by the atrocity that happened in May were 22 people gained their angel wings and many more were injured.

“We need to stand together and stand proud and not be defeated by these people – that’s highly important to me as I lost my daughter that day and the support I’ve received from the people of Manchester is amazing.

“It’s taught me to be a lot more kinder and thoughtful as you never know what others are going through every day.

“A smile or a hello could make someone’s day so please Manchester let’s stand together, stand proud and show people love not hate.”

“I wanted to do this for Martyn’s legacy”

22.33pm is the hardest minute of the day for Figen Murray. Mondays are the worst. That was the time and day of the week that her irrepressible son, PR manager and social media star Martyn Hett, was killed at the Manchester Arena.

Since his death, because she has refused to adopt an attitude of anger of bitterness towards the man who murdered her son she has been the target of vicious online trolls. However, she refuses to ‘succumb to darkness’, as she puts it. Her son lived his life in a positive way, and she wants that to be his legacy.

The Manchester Evening News spoke to Figen Murray at the Women for Peace conference, at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, in Warrington, which she attended as a guest last week. There, she lent her support to our ‘We Stand Together’ campaign, and its push to get peace studies taught in schools.

She told us: “I wanted to do this for Martyn’s legacy – it’s important to have peace. Martyn was very positive, he was full of laughter and he encapsulated the spirit of a good life and a full life, although he didn’t live that long, he made absolutely the most of every minute, of every second.

“I’m not able to be angry because he was so positive, but it doesn’t mean I’m not damaged, it doesn’t mean we’re not devastated as a family, it’s changed every single person in our family, but we can’t all succumb to darkness and sadness, Martyn would not want that at all.

Speaking of the person who took her son from her, she added: “Had somebody intervened at a young age, directed him to a better place, a better way of thinking, maybe it would have made a difference. I like to think it might have done.

“I think it’s important for young people to learn about peace in schools because they are a captive audience and they may actually be able to hear what you say and take it in.

“In schools, there’s the possibility to actually explain to the children the wider effects, the domino effect these incidents have and how they impact on families, parents, siblings, children their age, and it might actually hit home better, I think.

“I think it’s really important to give tools to children so that they can cope with these events – these are not just ‘my mate pinched my ruler’- these are massive, massive things that happen to people that are in some cases life changing.

“And if children have that little bit of resilience and some coping strategies and maybe learn how to handle themselves better and their emotions with some guidance from professional people, it would really have a positive outcome.”