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‘For some of us, the support we needed never really came’

Bee the Difference report highlights need for greater support for young people after terror attacks, inspired by Manchester Arena bombing

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A landmark study will help to bring new and much-needed levels of support to young survivors of terror attacks, after more than 200 young people affected by the Manchester Arena bombing shared their experiences of psychological support. 

The Bee the Difference report found that 75 per cent of children and young people who survived the terrorist atrocity in May 2017 describe themselves as ‘psychologically injured’ – yet 29 per cent have never received professional support. 

Of the 71 per cent who have received support, 30 per cent received this within a month of the attack, but for more than two thirds, that took up to a year. 

Bee the Difference has, for the first time, given young people the opportunity to reflect on their experiences of support, both good and bad, and will help to influence future interventions for young people in the wake of the unimaginable trauma of a terrorist attack. 

A number of positive steps that can be taken in future have been identified, including the importance of early intervention and the role of schools in delivering support, as well as the need to remove the onus of seeking support from the young survivors.

Six key recommendations were made – for support to be more visible; greater compassion for young survivors; availability and accessibility of specialist trauma support; flexibility in support; appreciation that recovery will take time; and the need to help influence positive change.

Compiled by the National Emergencies Trust and Lancaster University, the report was inspired by social work lecturer Dr Cath Hill, who survived the bombing along with her ten-year-old son – although both were psychologically injured by the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 22 people. 

Led by nine authors, all of whom were teenagers at the time of the bomb, Bee the Difference includes the voices of more than 200 young survivors. 

“Since the attack, some of us have received incredible care from our loved ones, teachers, doctors and mental health professionals. But sadly some of us have also experienced upset and difficulties with the way that help was offered to us,” say the authors. 

“For some of us, the support we really needed never came.

“In the six years since the attack, there hasn’t been an opportunity to talk about all of this. 

“Nobody has asked about the help we have or haven’t received. That matters because it means nobody can learn from what we, and so many others, have been through. The good and the bad.”

NR Times has previously reported on the absence of appropriate and timely psychological support, with bespoke initiatives devised in response to this acute need to deliver support beyond what was available.

HRH Prince William, the Prince of Wales, said in response to the report: “This report makes clear that young people who have experienced the trauma of terrorism have needs unique to their age. 

“These are minds that need the space to have their voices heard and feelings acknowledged.

“We must listen to their stories now, in order to learn for the future. I look forward to seeing the change that it creates.”

To read the full report and its recommendations, and quotes and experiences from the young authors and contributors to Bee the Difference, visit here

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