The deadly and senseless attack on young people and their families at the MEN Arena in Manchester late on Monday night, May 22nd, at the end of Ariana Grande's concert is a terrible tragedy for all of us.
We live in difficult times and life is particularly hard for young people who face so many challenges. Music has always been an important part of youth culture, a way to escape everyday problems and the troubles of the world, a way to have fun with friends, by going to concerts, sharing information about favourite artists, playing in bands and so on.
My heart goes out to all those affected by the attack, especially to those who have been injured, and to all the bereaved families who have lost loved ones. As someone who was and still is an avid concert-goer, and as a mother of two boys who live for music, I feel a particular sense of sadness that popular music culture has provided the context for this abhorrent violence. As with the terrible attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November 2015 we must strengthen our resolve to overcome the hatred that lies at the heart of such violence.
The fact that this attack purposely targeted children, young people and their families is sickening. Young people from all over the UK, especially teenage girls, had come to Manchester, our great city, for a special night out and none could have imagined the carnage that awaited them at the end of the evening.
My thanks go to all the emergency services, fire, police, medics, professionals and volunteers, both on and off duty, who responded in a calm, efficient and compassionate manner, and to all the local businesses such as hotels and taxi firms, and the local people who offered help in myriad forms. Manchester has always been a welcoming and open city and the Mancunian response at times like this makes me immensely proud.