The UK’s Metro is reporting on the story of Steve Jones, 35, and Chris Parker, 33, two homeless men who were in the area of the Manchester Arena on Monday night when a suicide bomber set off explosives that killed 22 people and injured dozens more.
Jones was in the foyer of the arena, where he regularly panhandles, when the attack occurred. He remembers seeing a “flash of light” before the blast.
"We heard one little bang and then the next with the shockwave. Well, me and my friend got up at first and ran, but then we turned back because we knew we had to,” Jones told ITV. "Don’t get me wrong, we did run away at first, we ran. But, then we did turn back and ran back when we realized we were OK and people needed our help."
Returning to the scene, he found himself helping children who were full of nails. “It was children with blood all over them, they were crying and screaming. We were having to pull nails out of their arms and a couple out of a little girl’s face.”
When applauded for going back to the scene, he dismissed the praise. “Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean I’ve not got a heart, and I’m not human still.”
Chris Parker, another man who has been homeless for about a year, was also at the arena that night and recalled holding a 60 year-old woman who suffered a fatal leg and head injury during the attack.
“She passed away in my arms. Said she had been with her family. I haven’t stopped crying,” Parker said.
He also helped a little girl who had lost both her legs in the explosion. “I saw a little girl…she had no legs. I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said ‘where’s your mum and daddy?’ She said ‘my dad is at work, my mum is up there.’”
He said he thought the child’s mother may have died from her injuries.
The story of the heroic efforts of these men has touched a chord in the heart of this grieving nation. A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Parker and it has already raised more than $60,000 dollars.
“Homelessness in this country is a widespread tragedy but it is absolutely unacceptable that someone who can react so heroically in such a terrifying situation should be on the streets,” the site states. “Hopefully this campaign will go some way to helping Chris off the streets and also show are gratitude for his actions.
Parker’s estranged mother, Jessica, 57, has also reached out to him pleading for him to get in touch via social media.
“Chris sporadically gets in touch, but I haven't heard from him for a while,” she said, according to the Daily Mail. “When I saw the story about what he had done and how brave he had been, I was floored. I was so proud. I thought 'that's my boy'. I just want to talk to him - and I want to meet up with him. I was totally shocked when I saw the stories about Chris, but I knew it was something he'd do. He's fallen on hard times, but he has a heart of gold. I'm so proud of how brave he was trying to help people.”
Steve Jones’ story caught the attention of West Ham co-chairman David Sullivan and his son who used social media to track him down and reward his bravery by giving him a rent-free home for six months. A JustGiving.com site has raised more than $30,000 for Steve with a goal of raising $100,000 in order to enable him to buy a home and stay off the streets.
“He said in an interview that he would like to think that people would help him if he needed it... so let's do just that!” the site states.
Jones admits he’s overwhelmed by the response to what he believes was what anyone would do during a tragedy like the Manchester attack.
'I'm overwhelmed by the support and help, and that people have been setting up money for me. It's incredible,” he told the Mail.
“People do look at homeless people and tarnish all with the same brush and think that we haven't got a heart. I saw people stepping over children that night, stepping over them to get away and leaving children, and to me that wasn't the right thing to be done,” he said.
The UK and people across the globe agree and are willing to dip into their pockets to help these two heroes get off the streets for no other reason than because this world needs more people like them.
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