A mother who cancelled her place in the Greater Manchester Run following the terror attack has hit out over criticism she received online.
Claire Kirk, 32, was raising money for mental health charity, Mind, and due to complete the run when Salman Abedi killed 22 people by exploding a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert.
Mrs Kirk said: “Basically my decision not to do the run was because i was scared.
“I have a four-year-old son that I live with on my own and I felt sick thinking if something happens he’s got no mum.”
Mrs Kirk has suffered from anxiety and panic attacks and was hoping to spread awareness and make it easier for people to speak out about their feelings.
She said: “I felt people were making judgments. People wrote that I was giving in to fear, that they didn’t agree with my decision. It made me feel worse.”
Robert Winstanley, a Manchester based Psychotherapist, said: “What happened has left people with these fears and fright. Which to me is common and real. It’s not surprising that people are feeling frightened and scared.
“It’s important that people don’t hide away from their emotions or bottle them up.”
Mrs Kirk says she was more anxious thinking about telling people she was too scared to run than she was about actually doing the run, which she thinks confirms “we still have a way to go before people can speak openly about their emotions without fear of judgement.”
Victim Support is currently operating its 24/7 support line, offering emotional and practical support for anyone affected by the attack.
The number is 0808 168 9111 and is free to call.