Even though pain and heartbreak has engulfed the city of Manchester, there have been incredible stories of kindness trickling out from this week’s terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert. One of those stories centers around Stephen Jones, a homeless man who came to the aid of others when he heard the chaos erupting from Manchester Arena.
The 35-year-old was sleeping near the arena when we was awoken by the bomb blast that killed 22 people and wounded dozens more. As Stephen watched thousands of screaming concert goers flee in terror, he came to the aid of the injured and did everything he could to help, removing glass and metal shrapnel until medical personnel arrived.
“It was just instinct to go and help,” he told a reporter. “And it was children and a lot of children with blood all over them, crying and screaming. We were having to pull nails out of their arms.”
Stephen is being rewarded for his good deed with something he hasn’t had in quite some time – a roof over his head. His story quickly spread and his words “they needed help and I’d like to think somebody would help me if I needed the help” resonated with people. Not long after his interview took place, an online fundraiser created by Manchester citizen Diane Moore sprang up on the website JustGiving. The goal of the fundraiser is to provide the much-deserving man with affordable housing, and has as of now raised $39,113 (£30,222). The account reads that it was first started as a way to get Jones temporarily off the street, but because of the overwhelming generosity, the participants hope to upgrade to something more permanent.
The heroic efforts of kindness also caught the attention of local soccer team West Ham United FC, who had sought Stephen out after seeing him on the news. “WE HAVE FOUND STEVE!” reads a tweet by Dave Sullivan Jr., son of the team’s co-chairman.
“This was a terrible incident, but the response of the people of Manchester has been one of bravery, togetherness and resilience – the hallmarks of what makes Britain such a fantastic place,” the team’s co-chairman said regarding Stephen’ willingness to help.
To repay Stephen and help him get his life back up, the team has offered to pay his rent for six months, as well as help him find work, and buy new clothes with other basic essentials.
Stephen says that he views this as an opportunity to “get back on the straight and narrow” after spending time in prison and getting mixed up with drugs.
In a follow-up interview with ITV, Stephen says he doesn’t consider himself a hero, and admits the kindness of those reaching out to help him brought tears to his eyes. “I just want to say thank you very much mate,” he told Sullivan Jr. in a video call. “I really, really appreciate what you said you’re going to do for me. I really do.”