Stephen Jones, 35, was sleeping near England’s Manchester Arena when he heard a huge blast followed by the screams of crowds, ITV News reported.
Concert attendees, including small children, were fleeing from the stadium, some bloodied. Instead of running away himself, Jones said he came to their aid.
“Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean that I haven’t got a heart and I’m not human still,” he told an ITV News reporter hours after the attack. “They needed the help. I’d like to think that someone would come and help me if I needed the help.”
In graphic detail, Jones recalled helping remove nails, glass and other shrapnel from victims’ faces, arms, and legs.
“It’s just instinct to go and help if someone needed your help. And it was children, and it was a lot of children with blood all over them and crying and screaming,” he said.
His harrowing story soon spread around the world, leading to an online fundraiser to afford him housing. As of Wednesday, the JustGiving account, created by a Manchester woman named Diane Moore, has raised more than $27,700.
His act of selflessness also caught the attention of an official with London soccer team West Ham United FC.
Co-chairman David Sullivan and his son, Dave Sullivan Jr., announced Wednesday that after a successful hunt to find Jones, they are bestowing six months rent upon him. They also plan to help him find work and supply him with extra money for clothing and other essentials.
“Dave and myself were both hugely impressed by the bravery shown by Steve, the emergency services and all those who rushed to the aid of those affected by the Manchester attack,” the team’s joint-chairman said in a statement. “This was a terrible incident, but the response of the people of Manchester has been one of bravery, togetherness and resilience – the hallmarks of what makes Britain such a fantastic place.”
The Sullivans said they will work with a local charity to determine how to best help him.
“Steve was just one of hundreds of people who forgot about their own safety and rushed to the aid of others, and we were both moved by his story,” Sullivan continued. “Steve deserves this chance to improve his own life after his selfless and heroic acts undoubtedly improved the lives of so many others.”
In a follow-up video shared by ITV News on Wednesday, Jones said he plans to use this opportunity to begin a new life for himself.
“This is my chance. I’ve done a few bad things in my life. I’ve been to prison, I was a drug user, so I want to get back on the straight and narrow and get back into working, sort out my life,” he said. “The donations, there was no need to. The kind words and acknowledgment was good enough for me, honestly.”
Jones wasn’t the only homeless man praised for rushing to help the victims of the violent explosion.
Thirty-three-year-old Chris Parker, told The Press Association that he was begging in the venue’s foyer with the bomb went off.
“I heard a bang and within a split second I saw a white flash, then smoke and then I heard screaming,” he told the U.K. news agency.
Racing to help, he said he found a child without any legs.
“I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said, ‘where is your mum and daddy?’”
Parker said he additionally tended to a woman in her 60s who suffered fatal leg and head injuries.
An online fundraiser has also been set up for Parker. An online fundraiser has also been set up for Parker. Its organizer, a man named Michael Johns, reported that they are still working to make contact with him.
CORRECTION: This article previously referred to West Ham United as a local Manchester team; it is an East London team.