Journey of Recovery

An insightful animated film featuring the real voices and stories of young people who survived the Manchester Arena attack gives a window into their experiences coping with trauma.

The short film Journey of Recovery, commissioned by the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund with the advice and support of the Manchester Resilience Hub, has been created as an educational tool to help schools, colleges and universities, as well as other young people, understand what people dealing with a traumatic experience are going through – and how best to support them.

Created and produced by Doodledo Motion, it combines the stories of 16 young people who were at the Arena on the night of the attack, aged 16-21, with animated images to illustrate their words. The film is designed to be a general introduction to the impact of any trauma and the recovery journey which people go on rather than being specifically about the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

Its key messages are:

– Anyone can be affected by trauma and adversity

– There is no ‘normal’ reaction to an abnormal event – people experience trauma in different ways

– Recovery from trauma can take days, weeks, months, even years and is not a straight line

– People can recover from trauma with support from friends, family and schools/colleges/universities

– Sometimes people can get stuck with their trauma and need professional help in their recovery journey.

Edith Conn, Chair of Trustees for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, said: “This is a remarkable piece of work which we hope will be an important legacy of the Emergency Fund and something which will really help other people to understand and support young people going through trauma.

“We’d like to thank the brave young people who came forward to take part in this film and thank them for sharing their stories. Their powerful testimonies open a window into a difficult time and shed important light on what is like to go through such trauma – from the everyday challenges facing someone whose world has been turned upside down to the little things which can make a big difference.”

Dr Kate Friedmann, Consultant Clinical Psychologist for the Manchester Resilience Hub, said: “It was an absolute privilege to be the clinical advisors for this project. It took great courage for the young people to come forward and tell their stories but they were determined to help others within education understand the life-changing impact of trauma and how to support affected students. The resulting animation is moving and thought provoking with heartfelt lived experience of what has helped and what did not.

“We hope the animation will add to conversations within education, not only about how to support young people impacted by trauma but around how educators and frontline staff need to be supported at all levels to do the work they do.”

James Torry, Creative Director of Doodledo Motion, said: “These are very brave young people who shared their stories and it was a privilege to be involved. From the outset we wanted this to be led by them. What you hear in nine minutes comes from over six hours of conversation with 16 people whose stories are so rich, honest and compelling we could have centred the story around any one of them. Our hope is that these stories will help us all better support those recovering from trauma.”

Young people’s voices

Natalie (her real first name)

What was your motivation for taking part in the animation?
My motivation was to help others who are struggling with trauma or any mental health issues. To show that though things don’t feel like they won’t get better, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I want people to know things do get better along the way and there is support there to help.  And it was also motivation for me to open up on my experience with trauma as honest as possible and hope my journey will inspire others.

What do you hope people will get from watching the animation?
I hope people get a better understanding of trauma. And how to try and help others that need it. I hope that all our stories can inspire others who are struggling to get the help they need or just opening up to their loved ones. You’re never alone, help is there. Talking about it is the first step to recovery. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Charlotte (her real first name)

What was your motivation for taking part in the animation?
To help anyone that is unfortunately caught up in an event like Manchester and to know that people around them have had some sort of insight to how they could be feeling and they may be struggling at that moment but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

What do you hope people will get from watching the animation?
To help teachers/carers/leaders to understand how something like this can affect people in so many different ways. Some people need a hands-on approach and others just need to know that help is there if needed. I feel that it needs spreading to a bigger community as living outside Manchester there isn’t a support network, college didn’t really do much as it only affected a few students.

Young person three (asked to remain anonymous)

What was your motivation for taking part in the animation?
My motivation to complete the animation was to make educational professionals aware of just how important they are to children and young people in the aftermath of such a traumatic event. The way they handle certain situations has a massive impact in our recovery and that could end up being positive or negative. I just did it because I wanted them to have information and tips about how to approach such a horrific topic sensitively.

What do you hope people will get from watching this animation?
I wanted people to watch this animation and recognise the signs that professionals may need to look out for when a young person may find it hard to identify the signs themselves, or when they’re in denial like I was at first. Also, I wanted young people who have been through trauma to realise if they feel that way, they are not alone because I found it difficult that nobody else understood. The animation will hopefully make people who are affected see, that these symptoms are quite common and then how to help themselves once the symptoms have been identified.

Manchester Support

Manchester Support