A homeless man who helped injured children in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Manchester Arena has been offered six months’ rent by wellwishers.
Stephen Jones, a former bricklayer who has been homeless for over a year, rushed to the arena following the explosion and, seeing people with severe injuries, said he “wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking away and leaving kids like that.”
Having heard of his actions, Dave Sullivan, the son of West Ham United co-chairman David Sullivan, began a joint appeal with his father to find Jones and “give him six months free accommodation and a little bit of money to help him on his way.”
Jones was tracked down and following a Skype chat, met Sullivan in person to make the offer.
Speaking to ITV the day after suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a device in the foyer of the arena as crowds were leaving the venue, Jones discussed the harrowing scenes in the moments following the explosion – revealing he’d helped remove nails from people’s bodies.
“Just because I am homeless, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t got a heart and I’m not human still,” he said. “It was a lot of children with blood all over them, crying and screaming.
“It had to be done, you had to help. If I didn’t help I wouldn’t be able to live with myself for walking away and leaving kids like that.”
Speaking to BBC Radio’s 5 Live following Sullivan’s offer of rent, Jones, 35, said he didn’t regard himself as a hero in any way: “There’s a lot of good people in Manchester. A lady and a man spent £100 on camping equipment for me the other day. For me it’s not all about taking, it’s about, you know, I had to help because children were involved, people were hurt, and it’s giving back to the community that’s helping me as well.
“I’m no hero at all, I’m doing something that anyone would do, especially when it’s children and it’s your own people, you know, people are hurt and need help, I done what I’d like to think anyone else would have done.”
Sullivan said he believed “someone who does something as selfless as Steve did, they deserve to be helped” and revealed he and Sullivan Snr are working with a Manchester charity, Booth Centre, to facilitate the transition.
He added: “I just thought it was a very touching thing someone has done. Through the darkness, it was just a bit of light […] a big glimmer of hope.
“He’s helped a lot of people, if I can help him, that’s really it.”
A crowdfunding campaign has been started for another homeless man, Chris Parker, who told of how he comforted a dying woman and a young girl who had lost her legs.
When some Twitter users expressed concern to Sullivan that the second story had been forgotten, he implied that he was looking to support Parker too.
Jones also revealed on This Morning that he had a job interview lined up as a result of the publicity, telling host Holly Willoughby: “I’m meeting someone today for a restaurant interview […] meeting him later on this afternoon for a drink and going for an interview at a restaurant.”
Meanwhile, the Manchester Evening News fundraising page has powered past £1 million, after an initial target of just £5,000 was repeatedly extended as funds rolled in.
Main image: ITV