This Tattoo Has Become A Symbol Of Solidarity Following The Manchester Attack

"It's a symbol of unity."

The people of Manchester came together last week when a man detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert being held at Manchester Arena. Taxi drivers offered stranded visitors rides to their destinations. Locals opened up their homes to people in need of shelter and comfort.

And now, people are honoring the strength of their city with symbolic tattoos.

Over a week has passed since the attack took 22 lives, but it's hard to deny that Manchester residents are more unified than ever. In an act of solidarity, many people in and around England's second most populous city have chosen to get tattoos of worker bees.

According to BuzzFeed News, hundreds of Mancunians waited hours to get inked this past weekend as part of an effort to raise money for the victims of the deadly attack and their families. Tens of thousands of pounds have reportedly been raised, and it's all set to be donated to charity.

On May 29, Hayleigh Jade McCullough, a local life and style influencer, showed off her new ink on Instagram.

"It's used to symbolize the city of Manchester's hardworking past during the Industrial Revolution and is featured around the city in murals, and every bin in the city bares the symbol," McCullough tells A Plus of the significance of the worker bee. "In this instance, it's been used by the people of Manchester as a symbol of unity and a celebration of togetherness in such a hard time."

The Manchester Tattoo Appeal, as it has now become known, was started by tattoo artist Sam Barber, according to CNN. He started by asking for donations of £50 per tattoo (or about $64), but has already well surpassed his original fundraising goal as tattoo parlors in the area have struggled to keep up with the overwhelming demand.

Mark Casey, a 46-year-old local, opted to get the worker bee tattoo on his leg. "I had it done just for respect," he tells BuzzFeed News, noting he didn't know anyone who was injured in the bombing. "It's a brilliant idea – I think it's great how Manchester has all pulled together."

"I've got other tattoos but this one means the most, definitely – apart from my City tattoo," he adds, referring to a Manchester football club.

Word of the Manchester Tattoo Appeal spread quickly over social media, and some people went above and beyond to make sure everyone in the city was well-informed. "I heard about it through following some of the Manchester tattoo parlors taking part, and then made it my mission to make people aware of the appeal," McCullough says. "I urged people to message me if they needed any assistance, and tried to help as many people as I could find places with bookings and openings available for them to go and get theirs as well to show support." 

As for why she chose to get the meaningful ink, McCullough adds, "I decided to get it because Manchester is my home, and always will be where some of my fondest memories are. I spend so much time in and around the city of Manchester, and it means the world to me."

She continues: "For this to happen to somewhere you call home was honestly heartbreaking, and to try and fathom the pain of the families of those who lost their lives is unimaginable. I got this as an ode to them, and to show my support for my city and how proud I am of how we have pulled together as a city to help as best we can." 

Daily Mail reports one woman who got inked was Charlotte Campbell, mother of 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, who died in the attack. Instead of just getting a bee tattoo, Charlotte and her partner, Paul Hodgson, added Olivia's name and her birthdate — November 28, 2001 — to personalize the tribute.

Jonny Firth, who co-owns one of the participating tattoo parlors with his wife Laura, tells BuzzFeed News, "We just saw everybody else in Manchester coming together and helping out and saw this was a really good way of doing it. We're frowned upon as an industry still because of the way we look, and this is a 'f—k you' to people who still think like that," he explains. "We are good people, we are nice people, we are family people, and we just wanted to take part and do whatever we can."

Describing the mood in Manchester now, McCullough tells us the city's St Ann's Square "is a sea of flowers and letters and candles."

"It's a beautiful display of support, but it's heartbreaking," she adds. "The city goes on, it always will, but definitely with those affected in mind. Manchester is such a gorgeous and buzzing city filled with so much good, and this isn't going to stop us being that."

If you'd like to show your solidarity with Manchester, consider donating to the verified charity page set up by Manchester Evening News

As the city and the world move forward in the wake of last week's tragedy, McCullough concludes, "It's more about ensuring that we don't let ourselves be ruled by fear, and to keep being the city we know and love, together." 

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