One Week On

This time last week I was blissfully unaware of the events that would unfold 8 hours later at Manchester Arena, where a terrorist would go on to kill 22 innocent Ariana Grande fans at the end of the concert.

I remember waking up on Tuesday morning at 6.30am, planning to quickly check my email before getting Amber ready. However I had 12 unread text messages from family and friends in Scotland, I read two before realising that something terrible had happened overnight. I switched on Sky News and was horrified by the headlines.

In all honestly as an anxiety sufferer, a terrorist attack has always been my biggest fear. It’s a fear which is so intense that I even try and avoid big shopping centres and I always need to know where exits are. After the Westminster attack I knew that Manchester had the potential to be next, and my biggest fear came true.

The next few days filled me with anxiety and panic. Like so many others, I couldn’t stop crying and wondering what sort of world is this to raise our kids in. I also couldn’t switch off as the first few controlled explosions and arrests were made within a mile of my house, so nights consisted of police sirens and helicopters. I know from speaking to other mums at Amber’s school they were feeling exactly the same, with many of them anxious about how to approach the subject with their kids and whether to tell them at all.

However, even though Manchester is a big city the attack has made it feel so inclusive. Everyone is supporting one another, millions has been raised for the families of the victims and the police have done a great job of keeping the public updated on arrests. People have queued over 12 hours to get the Manchester worker bee tattoo which raises money for the families, and there is a general feeling of togetherness. Manchester has always been a friendly city full of genuine down to earth locals, and their warmth this week has been nothing short of what you would expect.

Today was our first time visiting the city centre after the attack, and I have never felt safer. There was such a big sense of community. A total stranger, a man in his 60s tapped my shoulder and simply said “Keep smiling.” A lovely police officer was only too kind to talk to Amber and put her at ease during a large crowd of well-wishes. It can be daunting for young kids to see armed police, and I don’t want Amber to grow up being afraid of police, so like many other parents I have been encouraging her to speak to them and telling her that they are superheros like the characters in her favourite show PJ Masks. With such a heavy armed police presence it’s important to talk to our kids and let them know that the police are there to look after us.

Manchester is still a city in mourning, you can feel it all around you but we are strong and we are united. And I absolutely love the northern grit of this city.

There are so many negatives that we can take from the past week, but I want to focus on the positives and the strength that the people of Manchester have shown.

Don’t look back in anger..

Latoya

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