Up to 300 survivors of the Manchester Arena bomb who have suffered related mental health problems could receive £10,000 each from a charity fund established to help victims of the attack.
Witnesses who were in the arena foyer on 22 May when Salman Abedi detonated his suicide bomb will receive the money if experts assess that they were “functionally impaired” by the psychological injury they sustained, the We Love Manchester emergency fund trustees said on Thursday.
Sue Murphy, a councillor who chairs the fund’s board of trustees, said: “The people in the foyer of the Manchester Arena that night saw and heard things that none of us should ever have to see or hear.
“We know people are suffering mentally as well as physically. That’s why the trustees of the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund have worked so hard to get this right. We have consulted extensively with mental health professionals to understand how best to help those with psychological trauma, specifically those who were closest to the attack.”
In order to qualify, recipients must have been “directly exposed” to the attack and have not already had a payment from the fund of £60,000 or more to compensate for physical injuries.
Functional impairment means that they are unable to do the things that they could do comfortably before the attack, and will need to be validated by an accredited clinician, such as a psychological therapist.
Greater Manchester police will verify that applicants were in the foyer or accessed it immediately after the incident.
Recipients can spend the money how they wish. “The money is a gift from the people of Greater Manchester and the rest of the world and as such, there are no strings attached to how the money is spent,” the trustees said in a statement.
The fund estimates up to 300 people could be eligible for the £10,000 gift. This represents £3m of the £18m emergency fund that was established in response to the attack. It brings the total distributed from the fund to £14m.
The trustees of the fund sought advice and guidance from clinical experts at the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub, set up after the attack to ensure that those affected had access to mental health treatment. It is staffed by NHS mental health specialists.
Murphy said: “I am proud to be leading a charity which treats psychological injury as seriously as it treats physical injury.”