On the 22nd May 2017, Figen Murray’s life as she knew it changed forever. Her son, Martyn Hett, was one of the 22 people killed in the devastating Manchester Arena bombing attack. The shock, heartache and emptiness felt by Figen’s family was overwhelming. In the aftermath, friends, family and even strangers flocked to support her and her grieving family, and while there was nothing anyone could do to bring Martyn back, the acts of kindness strengthened their faith in humanity.
While many would assume Figen’s anger at what happened to Martyn, she was defiant in her message that hate fuels hate, and that being angry would only cause more heartache and pain. Figen made it her mission to promote peace and positive change in Martyn’s name. She is now committed to her mission of promoting peace, kindness and tolerance in Martyn’s memory, while also working towards tangible changes that can help ensure no other family has to go through what hers did. Figen is also the force behind Martyn’s Law, a legislation requiring entertainment venues to improve security against the threat of terrorism, and one that requires that all venues in the city have a counter-terrorism plan. Her petition to make Martyn’s Law mandatory received over 23,000 signatures and is now on its way to becoming a reality. It should apply to any place or space to which the public have access. For small venues this may require a small measure to be changed or added, e.g. a better back entrance lock or identifying a safe exit route for customers and staff in the event of an attack. Bigger venues with a greater footfall will require a more holistic approach. Martyn’s Law is proportionate to the size of the venue. It consists of 5 requirements for spaces and places which the public have access to:
- Engage with freely available online counter terrorism advice and training;
- Conduct vulnerability assessments of their operating places and spaces;
- Mitigate the risks created by the vulnerabilities;
- Put in place a counter-terrorism plan;
- A requirement for local authorities to plan for the threat of terrorism.
Martyn Hett was a remarkable young man who died doing something that he had every right to be enjoying in the knowledge that he was both safe and secure. He was the epitome of everything that terrorists are not; caring, compassionate and life-loving. He and all the others that died in 2017 were the essence of what terrorists despise and what terrorists will continue to attack, if they get the chance. Martyn’s Law will save lives and be a fitting tribute to a wonderful young man and all those who died alongside him in 2017. Figen has recently been presented with the Outstanding Contribution award at the 2020 Counter Terror Awards in recognition of the work that she is doing and her efforts in stopping terrorism.
To help people feel less alone, Figen knits bears and gives them personalities and backstories that often relate to mental illness. She credits Martyn with helping her gain recognition of her bears – in 2016 his tweets about the teddies went viral on social media. Her online Depop shop, Imperfect Hearts, sells knitted bears with various mental health conditions and generally uplifiting backstories to not only identify with them but also to make them smile. Figen believes every adult should own a teddy bear and she has sold hundreds of them across the world. Her book “Bears Have Issues Too” helps to shine a light on the mental health of adults through her professional knowledge as a counsellor and her more personal, lived experience. In 2017 she created Jordan Bear in Martyn’s memory and set up a Facebook page dedicated to his travels across the world.
Jordan’s Journey #BeMoreMartyn.
What can businesses do to help?
Martyn’s Law will raise public awareness of terrorism and will be a stand alone law, not to be added to health & safety plans or fire evacuation plans and this has been agreed with the government. However, Matryn’s Law will not help if people are injured in an attack or a mass trauma incident were to happen. So venues must take responsibility and have a care of duty in being prepared. One of the startling finds to come out at the Manchester Arena inquest was the lack of first aid/medical products and this is another issue that Figen is keen to address not only for Manchester but the whole of the UK. Had there been it would have made the job of the people trying to help the injured so much easier and may have even saved lives. Also, with inner cities being increasingly plagued by knife attacks and shootings, young people are becoming more vulnerable. Figen has worked in collaboration with Rapaid and they have installed trauma dressings in 200 taxis in Manchester.
More recently she has been liaising with local company, Steroplast Healthcare, to help raise awareness for much needed Trauma Kits and Bleed Control Kits to be readily available at public venues and stadiums should a mass casualty event happen again. It takes only a few minutes for someone to bleed to death so those minutes are precious, having bleed control and trauma products available could save someone’s life. Be prepared, act now; take advice and training on terrorism, conduct vulnerability assessments, look at your risks, have a counter-terrorism plan and have bleed control/trauma/medical products on standby – they could help save a life one day. Don’t wait for Martyn’s Law to become legislation or an incident to happen.
To find out more about Figen and the important work she is involved with visit: figenmurray.co.uk