Survivors warned over attending Manchester Arena reopening gig

Survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing have been urged to carefully consider whether to return to the venue for the gig that will herald its reopening next month.

Noel Gallagher, The Courteeners and Rick Astley top the bill for the We Are Manchester concert on September 9.

The concert will take place almost four months after 22 people were killed when a terrorist detonated a bomb in the foyer after an Ariana Grande concert.

Nick Taylor, chief executive of the Foundation for Peace charity, said that in the case of survivors of traumatic incidents, returning to the scene doesn’t always do good.

“The foundation would say it’s a personal choice if people want to go,” Taylor, who has visited the arena since the bombing, told the Manchester Evening News.

“But this is going to be a very emotionally challenging event. It’s going to attract a high level of security, it will be very intensive in terms of media scrutiny, it’s going to be full capacity, very noisy with very little chance for people to find quiet spaces to reflect.

“We suggest that people affected by the attack think carefully about whether this is the right concert for them to go to.”

Taylor said that the foyer has changed significantly since the bombing on May 22.

“The foyer is only going to be open to ticketholders, and it’s important to stress, to manage expectations, that it’s going to look very different.

“It’s a working area, a ticket area, there will be 5,000 people passing through it.

“It’s been renovated to make it look bright and celebrate what the Arena’s all about. It doesn’t yet contain anything like a memorial, the floor’s been repaired, but the roof has not been, therefore there’s no natural light, and there will be special lighting grids in place to ensure it’s bright.”

Survivors and relatives of those who were killed have expressed opposing views about the reopening, with one telling the Manchester Evening News they felt holding the concert there is “disrespectful”.

In a statement, concert organisers said: “The Foundation For Peace and Manchester Council have been engaged with various family liaison organisations for a number of weeks in order to ensure that as many of the victims’ families as possible were aware of the announcement before it was made.”

IMAGE: Matthew Hartley

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