Today marks the six month anniversary of the Manchester Arena terror attack, which killed 22 people and left another 512 injured.
Angela and her husband were at the MEN Arena on the night of the terrorist attack in May 2017 with their two daughters aged 14 and 17. Here’s their story.
‘When the concert finished, we left the box and headed towards the exit by the ticket office. We were about 20 yards away when the explosion went off.
‘My husband saw the flash and we all heard the noise and felt the heat and dust on our faces. I asked him what it was and he said a bomb. Suddenly everyone started screaming and running towards us. I went to run but my husband grabbed me and the girls and said we’re not running because we’ll get crushed.
‘There was a family in a private box who came out and asked what was happening and my husband asked them to let us in. When we got inside, their children were hiding under the table and my eldest daughter started to have a panic attack.
‘By that time people closer to the bomb who were injured, but could move, had all run past so the floor was covered in blood and there were shoes all over the place.
‘Even then I didn’t comprehend that a bomb had gone off. A young man came running down and stood beside us and said ‘they’re all dead, they’re all dead and they’ve got guns’. At that point I thought we were going to die.
‘We went to the exit and people were still running down the stairs. It was chaos. Once we got outside there were people screaming and vomiting but because the venue was so huge, there were also people from the other side who had no idea what had happened and were smiling and laughing with their pink balloons.
‘We were obviously all in shock for a couple of days after. It was very surreal – it was like we had been watching a movie, it just didn’t feel real.
‘A few days later we were contacted by the anti-terrorism police. They interviewed me and my two daughters over the phone, and it was them that gave us the Victim Support number.
‘I initially held off from contacting Victim Support because I felt there were people whose needs were far greater than ours. But I spoke to a colleague and she said just because you weren’t physically hurt doesn’t mean you weren’t affected. At first I contacted Victim Support for my daughters – I didn’t want it to impact them in a few years and they were more affected than I realised.
‘I called the number and they were very friendly and helpful on the phone. From there we were assigned our Victim Support volunteer Nigel. He was very professional and thoughtful.
‘Nigel has been coming to our house once a week now since the incident. He spoke to my husband a few times, and he’s still working with me and my two daughters now.
‘He’s really gone out of his way to help us. As well as the emotional support, he’s helped with practical things like bringing us personal alarms.
‘Nigel accompanied me and my husband on a police supported visit to the MEN Arena before it was reopened. We saw just how close we were to the blast, the holes in the walls, blast marks on the floor. It was very hard but it helped me to piece together things in my mind. He also accompanied me and my daughters on a police visit to the MEN Arena when it was re-opened.
‘My eldest daughter has also attended a Victim Support group for survivors of the Manchester attack. They met once a week for six weeks. There was another mum there and although she’d had a different experience to me, she was going through the same feeling and it was really helpful to meet her.
‘Every week it was a different topic – things like understanding how the brain works to process this type of trauma, understanding how important it is to be listened to etc.
‘They’ve now started another group for younger teens so my youngest daughter and my sister who is supporting her have started to go to that.
‘My experience with Victim Support has been really positive. Everyone has been very friendly and really helpful and I am so glad I took my friend’s advice and got in touch.’
If you’ve been affected by a terror attack, or any other crime, you can contact us for free and confidential support.
Donate to our One UK appeal to help us be there for anyone who needs support, for however long they need it. All proceeds will go towards providing support to those affected by the recent attacks and similar events in the future. It will support running our free confidential helpline, Supportline 24/7.