‘I raised £52,000 after Manchester… I wish I hadn’t’ — says good samaritan, Michael Johns

— A good samaritan, Michael Johns is disappointed to have raised fund to help Manchester attack victim

From attending vigils to laying flowers, getting bee tattoos to giving blood, people have felt a need to act in response to the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London. But while launching a fundraising appeal can be one of the most effective ways of helping, some good Samaritans end up ruing the day they decided to become involved.

Manchester attack aftermath
“If I could go back, if I could envisage the problems and stress it would cause, I would have avoided it.”

So says Michael Johns who was “compelled” to raise money for a campaign for a homeless man who helped the victims of the suicide bombing at the end of the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on 22 May.

But ever since, “multiple, multiple times”, he has wished he had not.

The 25-year-old, from Nottingham, set up a page on the GoFundMe website for Chris Parker after reading about how he had come to the aid of people caught up in the Manchester Arena attack.

“Hopefully this campaign will go some way to helping Chris off the streets and also show our gratitude for his actions,” Michael stated as the aim on his funding page.

The response was “unprecedented”, surpassing £52,000 – his original target was £1,000.

But getting people to donate was just the start. Getting the money to Chris has proved much more complicated.

“It has gone from being a fairly straightforward case of just handing over a relatively small amount to having an amount that is potentially life-changing,” he said.

Michael initially struggled to track down the 33-year-old.

People then started asking for refunds after a woman in Manchester wrote on social media about bumping into Chris, who said he was still homeless and had no money – and the post went viral.

Michael has faced accusations of not doing enough and trying to gain financially out of the situation, and has received abusive messages online.

The pair did eventually manage to meet up and Michael came up with a model to have the money put into a trust with five trustees – donors, a solicitor, an accountant, a homelessness outreach worker and a homelessness support professional.

Michael negotiated with GoFundMe to release a small amount of the money so Chris’s “needs can be met in the meantime”.

Chris, says Michael, is a “vulnerable person” who had had to deal with a terror attack, a reunion with his mother and unprecedented press coverage in a short space of time. But he says that despite offers of help from a number of organisations, Chris “is actively not engaging with that support”.

“Whilst this is the case, the process will be slow and there are likely to be other Facebook posts that do not bother to grasp the complexities of the situation,” Michael added in an update on the appeal site.

“I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place but I’m trying my hardest to plough on with this in the correct direction.”

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