Two homeless men who rushed to help in the wake of the Manchester terror attack have received an outpouring of support and a promise of a place to live from those who have commended their selflessness in the face of terror.
Stephen Jones, 35, and Chris Parker, 33, rushed to help after 22-year-old suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated an improvised explosive device near one of the Manchester Arena’s exits following a sold-out Ariana Grande concert Monday night.
Twenty-two people were killed and at least 59 others were injured in the venue, where mostly children and teenagers had flocked with their families to see the pop star perform.
Jones said he did not think twice as he frantically pulled out nails from injured people’s bodies and helped carry others to safety, telling ITV: “It’s just instinct to go and help, if someone needed your help, and it was children, you know what I mean?”
Parker was in the foyer of the arena, where he sometimes goes to beg for money as concerts let out, when the devastating blast rocked the area.
Though the explosion sent him flying, Parker said he quickly jumped back up and tried to assist victims.
“My gut instinct was to run back and try and help,” Parker told The Sun.
He tended to the wounded and tried to comfort those who were beyond saving, telling the newspaper of one woman who passed away in his arms.
“She was in her 60s and said she had been with her family,” Parker said. ”I haven’t stopped crying.”
As news of the men’s heroism spread, fundraising sites created to help improve their lives were quickly created.
As of Wednesday, one GoFundMe page created specifically for Parker raised more than £30,500 (nearly $40,000), while a JustGiving fundraising site meant to help Jones find a place to live had reached more than £22,000 (nearly $30,000).
And their bravery also attracted the attention of West Ham United Football Club co-chairman David Sullivan and his son, who have offered Jones a place to live, rent-free, for six months
“Steve was just one of hundreds of people who forgot about their own safety and rushed to the aid of others, and we were both moved by his story,” Sullivan said in a statement.
His son, David Sullivan, Jr., used social media to track down Jones, writing on Twitter: “Me and dad want to rent the homeless man in Manchester a house for six months to help him get on his feet … Such a self-less act needs rewarding.”
When asked about Parker, Sullivan, Jr. said, “He hasn’t been forgotten,” but did not elaborate on any plans potentially in the works.
“Just because I’m homeless it doesn’t mean that I haven’t got a heart and I’m not human still,” Jones said after the incident. “They needed the help, I’d like to think that someone would come and help me if I needed the help.”