Ariana Grande fans aren’t letting fear hold them back.
Concertgoers have started to arrive at Sunday’s One Love Manchester benefit concert, where they are remaining resilient in the wake of the deadly attack at Grande’s May 22 concert and the London terrorist attack on Saturday night.
“I want to be here and I have to be here because I want to help, I want to make everyone feel better,” Kiera Kearney, 14, tells PEOPLE. “What is very important is that whatever happens, nothing must defeat us.”
Fellow concertgoer Sophie Clune, 19, and her boyfriend shared similar sentiments.
“It’s scary being here today, but you can’t stop someone doing something because it’s scary. By not going, you are letting them win,” Sophie tells PEOPLE. “They are wanting to create that sort of division, and Manchester is not about that. Manchester is about getting everyone together.”
The concert comes less than 24 hours after a terrorist attack in London, which left seven dead and 48 injured after three men drove into a crowd and attacked with knives. Despite the attack and the severe threat level, Grande’s manager Scooter Braun and the Greater Manchester Police had stated that the show would go on as a message of resilience in the face of hatred.
After the events last night in London, and those in Manchester just two weeks ago, we feel a sense of responsibility to honor those lost, injured, and affected. We plan to honor them with courage, bravery, and defiance in the face of fear. Today's One Love Manchester benefit concert will not only continue, but will do so with greater purpose. We must not be afraid, and in tribute to all those affected here and around the world, we will bring our voices together and sing loudly. I am pleased to say we have the full support of Greater Manchester police and the government and are assured the safety of all those attending is the highest priority. All artists involved have been unwavering in their support this morning and are determined to carry on with the show. We ask the strong city of Manchester and the world to join us in making the statement that hatred and fear will never win. Today we stand together. Thank you.
“We were up until one watching the London news, but at no point did we think of canceling,” added Sophie.
Monique Scholes, 48, says the security at the venue has helped ease any anxiety about the night.
“For a moment, I thought about canceling last night when the London attack happened, and then I thought no, we have to stand together as one,” she tells PEOPLE. “Security here has been brilliant. I don’t feel at all anxious today. Everyone’s come together. Everyone’s having a good time.”
And while Kiera did not attend Grande’s show nearly two weeks ago that left 22 people dead and more than 100 injured in the blast, Kiera, her mother and her friend Ellie Galespie, also 14, felt it was more important than ever to show their support to the victims.
“I am not scared,” Ellie tells PEOPLE. “I didn’t come to the first concert but I wanted to come to this one, it’s for everyone’s good and it’s for charity.”
And with the somber mood in the wake of last night’s attack, fans are expecting the night to be emotional.
“I think there will be some tears as I think it’ll be very, very emotional and they’ll all have their own bit to say,” Helen Waring, 27, tells PEOPLE. “It shows that we’re all together and were not afraid and that you’re stronger together. Hate will always lose.”
“While it has been a really awful tragedy it really has brought the community together,” added Waring’s friend Rachel Martin. “It’s so amazing to see.”
All proceeds from the concert, taking place at the Emirates Old Trafford stadium in the city, are going to the Red Cross’s Manchester Emergency Fund to help victims and families impacted by the attack. Those who were at Grande’s original gig were offered free tickets, and additional tickets sold out in just six minutes.
The show is expected to raise around $2.6 million.
The concert will air live on Freeform at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. A one-hour highlight special will later air on ABC following the NBA Finals. BBC, the host broadcaster, is producing TV coverage.
- Reporting by ALINA TRABATTONI