Founded after the 2017 bombing, it has raised nearly £22m for victims’ families

The We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, established in the wake of the Manchester Arena Bombing on 22 May 2017, is to close down.

The city was shaken when suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a homemade device after an Ariana Grande concert last May, killing 22 people and injuring over 130 others. The youngest victim, Saffie Roussos, was eight years old

The charity has raised a stunning £21.8m since being established on 26 May 2017 and formally registered as a charity on 30 May 2017. It stopped taking donations at the end of January 2019.

The trustees of the Fund collectively felt that it has now met its objectives and the time has come to close it down

The money was distributed among the families of those killed in the attack, the seriously injured and to groups and organisations providing counselling and other types of support. The charity has made its final payment of around £400,000 which will be shared among the families of the victims.

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Objects are carefully stored at the Manchester Together Archive image by the University of Manchester

Money was raised in many different ways, from a competition to win David and Victoria Beckham’s outfits worn to the Royal Wedding, to individual fundraising efforts, such as survivor Neve Mackie, who, at nine years old, decided to run 22 miles to raise money for the fund. 

Football clubs Manchester United and Manchester City announced a joint donation of £1m. The donations were welcomed in a joint statement by leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who announced: “This is a wonderful act of generosity and speaks directly to the mood of our city and all of its people. It shows how in our darkest hour people are coming together and that Manchester is a city of true solidarity – truly a City United.”

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Tributes in St Ann's Square

The Manchester Together Archive, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by Manchester Art Gallery together with Archives+ and the University of Manchester, is developing a digital archiving platform to support the digitisation, development and interpretation of more than 10,000 items that were left in the memorials in St Ann’s Square.

The flower tributes that carpeted the city after the attack were pressed and preserved by Manchester Art Gallery's Conservation Studios, with some used in memorial books to be presented to the families of the 22 people who lost their lives in the attack. Soft toys and football shirts were given to children’s charities.

Manchester City Council has also invited artists, designers and architects to put forward proposals for a permanent memorial to victims. Located outside Manchester Cathedral on Fennel Street, close to where the attack took place, the brief says that the memorial must 'create a tranquil environment for reflection' and 'celebrate the lives of those who were killed'.

The We Love Manchester Emergency Fund is separate from the We Love Manchester charity, which has operated for many years as the charitable fund for the Lord Mayor’s office. The Manchester Memorial Fund is a standalone fund overseen by the Lord Mayor’s charity and chaired by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, currently Cllr Newman. 

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Edith Conn OBE, chair of trustees for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, said: “From the remarkable fundraising efforts of the individuals and organisations who gave so generously to the courage shown by those whose lives were changed forever by the attack, being involved in this Fund has been a humbling experience.

“The trustees of the Fund collectively felt that it has now met its objectives and the time has come to close it down. We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in this tremendous effort and pay tribute to those who lost their lives on 22 May 2017, those who lost loved ones and everyone whose lives were turned upside down by those terrible events.”

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An infographic showing how funds have been spent We Love Manchester Emergency Fund

The response to the We Love Manchester Fund has not been uniformly positive however, with one respondent telling the Guardian: “If you ask me about the money, or the way it’s been publicised, it makes me feel ill, but I do have to live, and we do have to pay bills, so we are grateful.” Meanwhile reviews on the We Love Manchester Facebook page berate the fund for not providing the type mental health support required.

The Kerslake Report found that families of the victim of the bombing were harassed by some members of the media. The Fund has therefore asked journalists not to enquire into details of individual payments. A general breakdown of spending, as of April 2018, is given above. Further information is available here.