‘Manchester is not afraid’ – those were the words of a student from Sussex who attended Tuesday’s vigil in Manchester.
Emily Barleycorn, 24, from Ferring, near Worthing, lives in the city and studies Russian at University of Manchester.
The second-year student works at the Ask Italian restaurant in Piccadilly, not far from where Monday’s attack took place.
She said: “I was speaking to my friends from work on Monday night and they told me something was going on, which was a suspected terror attack but we didn’t know for sure.
“I then woke up on Tuesday morning and found out and saw that 22 people had died. I was really shaken up when I went into uni.
“I had work on Tuesday evening but when I arrived we were told it was closing because it was right in the centre and near the Arndale Shopping Centre, which had closed in the day because of the attack.
“There was also speculation over more attacks and an arrest had been made in the shopping centre. My work thought it was safer to close and it was not worth it.”
Emily went to the vigil, held in the city’s Albert Square, with a friend from work.
She said thousands of people turned out to pay their respects, with many chanting the city’s name.
“People were holding up banners all about love and not about hate,” she added.
“It was a massive show of solidarity, it was absolutely packed. I had never seen so many people in one place.
“I wanted to go to show my support. Nothing is going to make it better and the only thing we can do is show support.
“It was a really nice atmosphere, everyone was friendly and were just sobered by it all.
“I think everyone felt like it was the least they could do and came down after they had finished work. These people may do this to us but they can’t break the spirit.”
Emily said she was ‘not really surprised’ the attack happened in Manchester and that it had felt ‘so close to home’ for her.
“It hasn’t made me worried about living here,” she added.
“It is one of those things, you can’t shy away from it. I don’t feel scared – I just feel desperately sorry for everyone who was involved and I just wish I could do more.
“I don’t know what to make of it really. But everyone has come together in Manchester.
“Even the homeless have rallied to help, and there is a massive homeless problem in Manchester.
“I think everyone comes together in any way they can when this happens. Manchester is a multi-cultural city, too. There is no racism or hate.
“I think people are more sad then angry. And this vigil has shown that Manchester is not afraid.”
Emily has written a poem with a friend following the attack. You can read this via her blog www.plainsailor.com/.
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