This has been a truly terrible day for Manchester.
We woke to awful news this morning and I, like many of you, am still finding it difficult to believe what’s happened.
We are starting to see the names and photographs of those who lost their lives or were injured last night and it’s heartbreaking. Children, teenagers, mums and dads. On behalf of all of you, I send our love and condolences to all who are grieving.
Unfortunately we know some colleagues and their families were caught up in the horrific incident and we are of course offering them every support we can. We’ve also been in touch with our two Co-op Academy secondary schools in North Manchester as we know many students were at the concert last night and will be traumatised by what’s taken place.
I know many colleagues in Manchester have been tearful and it’s been difficult to focus on work today when such a tragedy has taken place just a few hundred yards from our Support Centre. I understand how you are feeling.
During the day we’ve been offering what help we can to the City. I’ve contacted Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, and Joanne Roney the Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, to discuss what role we can play. For the many emergency service personnel we’ve given water and sandwiches and a place at Angel Square to take a rest from their work.
Our Funeralcare business has, as always, been on hand to support families and we will be there for every family that needs our help. It doesn’t feel appropriate right now to talk about what that involves but rest assured we are doing what you would expect us to.
The Manchester Evening News has started a fund to raise £300,000 for the families of those killed or injured last night. I’ve made a personal donation, our Co-op will be making a donation and I’m sure many of you will want to do the same. Here’s the link: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester
Our Co-op has been a part of Manchester for more than 150 years. It’s our home. It’s a special place for us and for the wider Co-operative movement. Today we are in shock and we are beginning to mourn those we have lost. In the coming days I know Manchester will come together: to grieve; to pay our respects to the victims of this terror; and to demonstrate that there is unity, goodness and strength in this great city. We will be a part of that coming together, and that strength, a strength that will see us through the coming weeks and months.