Tales Of Life Under Lockdown
An exhibition of photography by Katrina Campbell
To launch our Enjoy Enfield Summer festival we are featuring a series of portraits created by photographer Katrina Campbell documenting the Enfield community during the Covid-19 lockdown during the spring and summer of 2020.
"Each household tells their story, from their doorstep, of life in lockdown. These are engaging portraits with tales of hope. People from diverse backgrounds, framed in doorways give their honest account of ‘staying at home’. There are shared emotions - empathy, gratitude, anxiety, hope, as well as a chance to rest and reflect.
As a portrait photographer, my work came to an abrupt halt at the end of March. Out of curiosity and the urgent need for a project, I started photographing people on my daily walk. I didn’t just want pretty pictures, I wanted to tell their stories. People were surprisingly open and keen to share. I’m really pleased with the range of photographs - I like the way that people stand with ease and a certain pride, whether dressed for the occasion or in their slippers. However it has been the stories of the everyday, sometimes tragic, sometimes uplifting that have really amazed me. And so in turn this series has also struck a chord with people, not just locally, via instagram and Facebook, people say that reading others’ experiences has made them feel moved, uplifted, and more connected.
The series now includes 100 portraits documenting the changing stages of lockdown. A new chapter is now emerging - away from doorsteps to those who’ve helped in the community, for example the final portrait of Ishraq from Palmers Green Mosque talks about his work delivering food parcels.
It’s been an inspiring project, taking me to many new corners of Enfield, and introducing me to so many wonderful new faces.
People have been so pleased with their portraits and wanting a memento of this special time, some have ordered digital images and prints from me. A percentage of sales have been donated to CRISIS and their new campaign ‘HOME FOR ALL’ in recognition of the fact that whilst home has been a sanctuary for most people, this is sadly not the case for all. https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/home-for-all/"
VICTORIA, JOE AND EDEN
Victoria gave birth to Eden two weeks ago in the midst of the pandemic, so her husband and mother were not able to be with her as planned, though Joe was with her for active labour and the birth. The birth was complicated, resulting in an emergency c-section, where Victoria lost a lot of blood, but the baby was delivered safely. A frightening experience for an anxious first time mother, they then had to stay in for a further week as both mother and baby had an infection and needed antibiotics.
“The thought of being alone in hospital made me very emotional, wondering how I would care for this little life by myself. As soon as I came out of surgery, I was tested for Covid-19 as my temperature was very high. It was negative but I was still very weak and poorly. While waiting for the blood transfusion, a midwife shouted at me for not picking up my baby when he needed me, saying she wasn’t going to do it for me. I was scared at how I would cope if I didn’t recover quickly. The ransfusion gave me some energy but overall recovery was slow and I’m still not quite back to myself.
That said, the midwives were absolutely fantastic towards the end of my stay at Barnet Hospital and I will always remember Annie, in particular, who went above and beyond to take care of us and lift my spirits at a very low time.
Being home with Eden, Joe and our dog is the most beautiful feeling. We’re certainly making up for that week we had apart! My husband has been incredible, waiting on me hand and foot, whilst working full time from home! I was so grateful for his presence in hospital, he was so reassuring, holding my hand throughout the pain and panic, and he was able to bond with the baby for the first two hours of his life.
The toughest part about having a newborn during this pandemic, is that our parents will never know what it felt like to hold our tiny baby or smell his lovely newborn smell. The silver lining though is that Joe is working from home and around a lot more to spend time with our little man.”
Joe is a Graduate Quantity Surveyor. Luckily his company were extremely supportive from the start of the pandemic, allowing him to work from home when the guidance was given for pregnant women to self-isolate. Victoria is a primary schoolteacher.
HENRY & ARCHIE
Henry is a photographer, living with his two sons and their dog.
“I feel that as much shadow as this unseen threat has loomed above us, there are actually many positive sides to where we find ourselves; our species does seem to band together under the threat of a common enemy and despite the anomalies of loo roll scarcity and such, there are so many examples of it bringing a much nicer side out in all of us.
I feel personally blessed as my mother moved nearby at the end of February from Wimbledon, which has meant that I am able to help her regularly with groceries and medications She’s safe and close at hand which is a great relief for me as the youngest of her four children.
My father and step-mother live in Maidstone and are lucky to live with my younger sister and her family so they’re all hunkered down together, and the rest of us are using technology to remain intimate.
We adopted Archie our Border Collie in November last year, and what initially seemed as quite an undertaking to take a dog out everyday has since become an escape to stretch our legs, and however nice it is to walk in the sunshine, it is actually the more overcast and rainy days that I prefer, in wellies and raincoats enjoying the solitude that we are so blessed with here in Enfield.
Between my two sons, my ex-wife and I had a daughter and sadly she was dead at birth. It’s surprising the comfort you feel when you discover that other people know your pain, not that you want other people to have suffered, but to know that you are not alone. We are such empathetic creatures, it’s truly the source of our strength as a collective.
I don’t expect that much, if any of the bonhomie will last beyond this current lockdown once life eventually returns to the next normal, but after the divisions of the last few years and feeling so eclipsed by Brexit and the linear divide it cut through our nation, it is perhaps exactly what the doctor ordered - if only we can survive the virus itself and live to tell the tale.”
THE STOBA FAMILY
Stacey: “As full time working parents, Scott and I were nervous to say the least about lockdown. The thought of working and juggling schoolwork filled us with dread. We are an outdoorsy family, and it’s unusual for us to spend a whole day at home let alone weeks on end. On top of that Ged, 6, is ADHD so we had no idea how he would cope. He self regulates through overindulging in the gross motor skills. He’s super sporty and uses that as an outlet and to help strike a balance and regulate cognitively. At the beginning we felt judged for taking the boys out for daily or twice daily exercise. A couple of ‘well you’ve got a garden’ comments made us feel awful. Thankfully the government quickly confirmed that those with neuro-diversity should take the exercise they need, which made us feel better about our decisions. It really comes down to prioritising Ged’s health and well being.
It’s not been an easy ride, as I’m sure anyone with children this age will know! To make it work we’ve been working shifts of childcare / home schooling and our day jobs. I log on at 6am most days to get ahead of the day and Scott will often be online late into the evening. Like most parents, we are doing whatever it takes. Lots of screen time isn’t great for Ged, as it creates sensory overload (another ADHD challenge) so managing the balance of all the online work set from school didn’t really work at the start. We’ve chosen to take snippets of what school have set and combined with workbooks for his age. They’ve both spent time cooking, gardening, cleaning and growing fruit and veg in our new greenhouse. Turns out they fight over chores too - whose turn to mop is now an issue!
Vaughan, 3 really misses his friends and our extended family. He talks often of nursery and what he’s going to do when ‘Corona Virus goes’. It feels odd hearing a pre schooler talking about the pandemic. We caught him wrapping is hands in cling film; when we asked why, he said that this way he could see his Nanny and Poppa and friends and touch them too. Whilst it broke our hearts a little, we were impressed with his line of thinking!
On the whole we are doing well. I’m incredibly proud of both my childrens' resilience and strength of character during these challenging times. They’ve both shown maturity and empathy that I didn’t know they were capable of. We’ve laughed hard together, shed a few tears, consumed a lot of gin (parents not children) and been on many family bike rides to burn energy. We are trying to stay strong, lower our expectations and take pleasure in the extra family time that this awful situation has afforded us.”
Stacey and Scott work full time in HR and Financial Services, respectively. Their two boys are Ged, 6 and Vaughan, 4.
This is Monica. She’s eighty seven years old and is taking life during lockdownin her stride. Having lived through curfews and coups during her time with the British Council in Ghana and Chile, being confined to her lovely home and garden is no great hardship. As co- president of the Enfield Society, she is still busy, working from home thanks to technology which helps her keep in touch with loved ones too.
“I’m very lucky to have a beautiful garden, lovely neighbours and family in Wood Green checking up on me, and delivering food to the door. I have been retired for 25 years but do voluntary work, principally for The Enfield Society. I am planning a new publication in the Heritage Walk Series at present. I haven’t had to change my lifestyle greatly but am less independent, being unable to do my own shopping. Cleaning the house and weeding the garden ( my usual helper is also self isolating) is keeping me active, and I cut the grass instead of going for a walk. I usually go to the theatre or cinema once a week and I miss this so I am reading more and watching old films.”
I even got a glimpse from the garden gate to her garden - keeping it looking beautiful is obviously very important to her.
IAN & MEHDI
Ian: “We live together in the house I was born in . I’ve been furloughed from my job as a hairdresser which I miss a lot not just because it’s tactile, but because of the conversation and interaction with clients that I’ve known for many years. I love hair too so I miss creating in that medium .
Mehdi has been here just over a year. He left Iran to escape persecution. He is settled and feels safe here in the UK for first time after five years of hell. He has found his home. Mehdi loves to cook amazing Persian meals and is brushing up on calligraphy. He works out regularly and we go on long walks. I have been dressing up for Frock Up Friday and doing silly dance videos to make people laugh on Facebook.
Mehdi will use his skills as sports therapist to contribute to this country. He’s passionate about our culture , history and the incredible love and support from our friends and church family.
Luckily we’re having a lovely time at home and are turning the garden into an oasis .
Both of us love quiet and nature and being alone with our thoughts but together.
Both of us pray that this will have a profound change in people’s attitudes to our planet, nature and other people.
We miss our much loved United Reform Church in Winchmore and its family. We miss our friend Charlotte so much. When this is over just to be able to look into our friends’ eyes and see their smiles will be a gift.
Oh and we miss London, and Zara. God we miss Zara, all those clothes with our names on….!”
KHADIJEH, MOHSEN, ARVIN, MOHAMED & OLIVIA
Khadijeh and Mohsen are Iranian refugees living in London with their three children aged 9, 5 and 2 months.
Khadijeh: “We arrived in the UK in September, after a very tough and difficult journey from Iran. We fled Iran for our safety and survival of our family. We are so grateful to the UK for offering us the hope of a safe future. We are very happy here. We love the British sense of humour, fish and chips, football, and our wonderful new friends.
We both long to be allowed to work, and to contribute to the community who've offered us refuge.
At the moment we feel safe and we try to fully comply with the quarantine law and hope that the coronavirus will be eradicated. We are studying at home and playing with the children, but Arvin misses school. Both Arvin and Mohsen were ill with symptoms, so stayed in one room for 20 days; luckily the rest of the family are well.
We worry about the children, especially my little boy, Mohammad who has epilepsy and autism and needs immediate treatment.
Our case with the Home Office is ongoing and we pray that the government will soon show us grace, and let us stay in this country we call home. After the fear experienced in Iran, and the conditions we survived on our way here, we now long to live in peace, and for our children to be happy. “
NIPA & RIMA
Nipa and Rima are sisters who live together. They’re enjoying the slower pace of lockdown.
Nipa - “I feel great because I am able to work from home, and relieved at not to having to commute. I get more done and I have more time for myself now despite having to care for Dad with a daily food drop of freshly cooked food.”
Rima - “I feel happy and positive despite the circumstances. I am currently furloughed and making use of the time doing jobs I don't usually have time for. When we visit Dad we stop and have a quick chat from a safe distance, to give him some family connection. We’ve also offered to shop for his friends and some of our neighbours.
We miss family and friends first and foremost, and socialising with them. No one in the family has been unwell, but we do have friends who’ve suffered from symptoms of coronavirus and are recovering.”
Nipa: “I try to keep fit with a jog in the local park at the weekend, otherwise a daily lunchtime walk for an hour is a must. I also try to do some stretching and strength training in our “home made” gym.”
Rima: "I’m working out at home to keep fit. Park based fitness daily and chatting to friends and family on daily basis.”
The positive outcome of lockdown is that people are putting a greater value on family and friends and general health and wellbeing. We’re taking more time on enjoying our garden, doing all the DIY chores we never have time for, cooking more and connecting with family and friends more regularly through video calling.”
PATRICIA, DEPUTY CARE MANAGER
Patricia works in a care home. In all her 35 years of nursing she had never experienced anything like the tsunami that they endured in March when coronavirus arrived in the UK.
“Working at a care home and caring for people living with dementia and long term conditions is my dream, passion and inspiration. The home has a wonderful ethos and philosophy; working here is a bit like living in a village, with families that we’ve known for years coming and going. The atmosphere at the home changed overnight when we implemented the measures around P.P.E. Visitors were told to stay away, and some of our residents living with dementia did not understand what was going on. One lovely lady said to me “I recognise your voice, but what is that blue thing on your face?”
Suddenly residents started to feel unwell, and we all tried our best to give them the best care possible. However as many of them faced their final days, the challenge was to provide spiritual care, and be there for them, because their loved ones could not. Their final hours were painful for relatives, and for me. It was loving care from a distance. I guess I will remember that song “From a distance”. I have learned a lot in the past few months.
It’s been a difficult but incredible experience and I am proud of what I’ve been able to do for people. I put all my ‘end of life’ skills into practice and was able to offer both residents and families the comfort that they needed. I became an expert in technology, mainly to reassure loved ones that I was there and their relative was not alone at the end. One Thursday evening at home, I stood with my husband and clapped for the NHS. I felt very left out, forgotten. Why was no-one clapping for us? After all we’re not just nurses, we have known these people in some cases for over ten years, This is their home.
What kept me going were the precious things: conversations, writing letters, little boxes of chocolates , face timing, the support from relatives, neighbours and the team. My family were so supportive; when I came in at the end of the day and nodded off, they knew it was part of the job. A nice glass of Chardonnay did the trick.
The positives coming out of this is realising that your health is your wealth. You’ve got to live in the moment. If I had to, I would do it all over again.
How am I feeling now? I am still on high alert. I do not mind not going to Tenerife this year. How can you really enjoy a holiday when so many people in the world have died?”
JACQUI & TULIP
Jacqui works in theatre and event production and her partner Tulip is a business Analyst currently working for Christies Art. They’re both working from home.
Jacqui:” We love being at home together. We seem to have more time for each other, without all the usual daily pressures. I’ve taken up piano lessons over Zoom which was on my retirement list. And we exercise more – you’d never normally get me on a bike. Oh and baking, I’m probably baking too much!
Working from home is going well. Zoom meetings have taken over our lives, but we seem to be more structured, stopping work at 5pm for our daily bike ride.
Discovering cycling has been a wonderful benefit to all this. Tulip cycled a lot before. I decided to buy a bike the day before lockdown.
A close friend lost her father to Covid-19 last week. It’s hard not being able to give her a hug or support her. I have an elderly aunt in Harlow, who I found after a 7 year search, not previously knowing she existed. I drop home made food round to her doorstep whenever I can. We shop for neighbours, and my brother sometimes drops by with food and stops for a quick chat.
I miss being able to see friends and family, going out for dinner, wandering freely, a night away or a trip to the countryside. I miss our dog who died in February. A nice gastro pub with rooms keeps creeping into my dreams.”
GENNA & BILLY
Genna:” Life is very strange. Today I went to Sainsburys’ and felt like I was in a movie! I work part time as an anaesthetic nurse and Andy has been furloughed from his job in retail/ trading management. Since lockdown was announced my anxiety has eased slightly. I feel safer now that the government are taking action after weeks of watching the terrifying news footage from Italy and Spain. I find going to work very grounding. The team are amazing. My area of work is not affected as badly as some but supplies of PPE is a problem and very concerning. I also worry I'm putting my family at a greater risk of the virus. When I get home, I have to shower before I can hug the kids!
In my hospital, theatres have stopped all scheduled operations to deal only with emergency cases. Now all anaesthetic staff are required to wear full PPE for all patients, whether they’re unwell or not. We have had to adapt the way we work as the equipment is hot, uncomfortable and exhausting to wear. It makes communication with each other extremely difficult and creates a barrier between you and your patient. All the reassurance we would usually provide through our facial expressions and smiles has gone which is very sad.
Staffing levels have been greatly affected by Covid-19. Lots of staff have had to take time off and some of our colleagues have been very badly affected. I am overwhelmed by the kindness and appreciation being shown to us. Our hospital has been bombarded with donations which are helping to boost staff morale and improve our wellbeing. We are receiving free meals, coffees, hand sanitisers, toiletries and free parking so I am now able to drive into work in central London.
The positives... family time. Andy and I have never had this amount of time off work together with the children. We are especially enjoying watching Seb grow and change on a daily basis. Our local friends & community have been incredibly supportive and we have got to know neighbours we wouldn't normally have met.
Home schooling has been mostly quite fun but also challenging. The school have been great and are not putting any pressure on us.. It's made me realise not to worry about money or education, it's our health that really matters now.“
SANGEETA, STEVE & RORY
Sangeeta: “We’ve had to adapt our lifestyle in some ways - we do less shopping, make do with what we have in the cupboards, spend a lot of time in the garden and have communicated more with family and friends than ever before. In our day to day, we have set ourselves a routine, which helps.
Rory has taken to lockdown like a fish to water, though I do think he misses his friends - being with them. He is doing his schooling via Zoom and takes it seriously. We are banned from his bedroom during his schooling time in case we do anything embarrassing. He says he is feeling fine, and regularly helps me in the kitchen cooking the evening meal
We have always tried to help our neighbours anyway, but now we’re in lockdown we help do bit of shopping for one of our elderly neighbours. We feel very lucky to live on such a friendly road with wonderful neighbours.
Life hasn't been difficult, it has been easier than we thought. We are very grateful for our little garden, which has brought us great joy. We appreciate the value of family time and nature more than ever. To keep healthy, we each do our 10,000 steps in our small garden listening to music and podcasts, using our iPhones and headphones (ear pods). Steve does more than 10,000 and has probably walked to Scotland and back.
For me personally, I enjoy this time of walking with my headphones, listening to podcasts. I have discovered the Sara Cox Show on BBC Radio 2, which one of the highlights of my day. I think I now also know more words to songs as I sing along. Steve misses walking in the park, as we don't go out at all except for our essential shopping. I miss the freedom of going where I want and when I want. I miss being free from fear of the pandemic and not have to think how it has changed all our lives.
Overall I am feeling okay, perhaps a little reflective. Luckily I am able to work from home, working on my second book. Steve feels optimistic that world leaders will work better together to deal with the next pandemic.”
Lola is 14, and lives at home with her parents, and their cat Pepsi.
“Studying at home is personally fun for me as I enjoy the work I’m being set and getting to do it at home Is an advantage, I’m managing to keep up with work at the moment. At one point my dad had Covid-19 Symptoms but they were luckily very mild. My friend’s mum also had it however hers was quite bad. My neighbours are being very helpful and we are in turns baking food for each other as we are all close friends :) I think many positives will come from this and I think it has brought families together as a whole. We watch films and play games together every evening, like scrabble and rummikub, and I exercise in the garden with my mum. I think everyone has adapted amazingly well and it shows the positives in our society. I miss my friends a lot but I still talk to them everyday so it’s not too bad. Overall I’m actually okay which is a relief.”
EME, ISAAC, ISLA & AVA
“We both work in the public sector. In my career, this is the busiest I have ever been. The proximity of working life and homeschooling has not given me a work life nirvana.
In the mornings, I no longer procrastinate for 30 minutes before happily swanning off to work, leaving my husband to take our 3 kids to school. I now wake and work, indulging in a different type of sidestep, I juggle work and periodically give the kids some attention. I no longer feel I have to dress sensibly or change out of my pyjamas first thing. It’s all to play for. We have hunted down and are now using every device we ever owned or “borrowed.
Initially, the kids were worried about people they know getting ill and not seeing their friends. With time passing, they have been reassured, through zoom class chats, xbox live games and TikTok tutorials with friends. So, I think the kids are fine.
I feel lucky, this is welcome confirmation that I am with the right person, which is not to be taken for granted. James is pleased to avoid his tedious morning commute abut otherwise- “it’s a bit of a net zero really”. On spending time as a family, the reality is that whilst we are both working, the kids are wrapped in duvets being taught by the TV, our daily interactions are my periodic requests for coffee, and asking politely for the door to be shut.
Sometimes I feel there is no space to escape. The challenge then becomes, how to get “me time”. I am finding it through ‘sleeping in’ at weekends, Netflix binges, the occasional run or class, and sometimes cleaning!
I miss seeing my family. I miss leaving home in the mornings and all the responsibilities that come with it, to head into work and play grown up. Now I have to juggle that act with looking after my kids who also expect that of me, but with a different skill set.
We are both feeling very fortunate and lucky, despite the ‘mild dissatisfaction’ with our set up, and recognise the importance of saying ‘thank you’ and doing what I can, by staying at home. “
CHARLOTTE, ZUBAIR, & CHILDREN
Zubair is a Chief Technical Officer for a software company, and has had to adapt to doing everything online. Charlotte works as a voluntary refugee advocate.
Charlotte: “As a volunteer I spend a lot of time visiting vulnerable families, and regularly visit the refugee camps in Calais. Overnight this has had to stop, and be replaced by online outreach, which feels totally different. I feel terrible for friends who rely on regular visits and are now limited to phone calls. Life for refugees in Calais was already horrific, but this crisis has made it even worse. The authorities have severely reduced food distributions, and the charities out there are very low on volunteers, so the situation is desperate. I am in daily contact with friends in the camps and their understandable fears are heartbreaking. They tell me they are told to wash their hands, but have no running water. It's not possible to self isolate when you are homeless.
I'm an outgoing, gregarious person who thrives in other people’s company, so this current set-up feels very foreign.
No one in our family has been unwell, but we’re following guidelines and staying at home. One week in, and our kids are loving homeschooling, though missing their friends. Suki had a class Zoom meeting on Friday, and the boys are whatsapping their cousins and friends, so thank goodness for technology! I would say, ‘so far so good’, we’re doing really well, and the positives are that Daddy is ‘home’ by 6pm every day, and the kids are getting more involved in household chores!
However much we worry for others, we’re trying to make home life as calm and easy for our own kids as possible - they’re very young, so we try to shield them from our fears. Hopefully they will remember this time as an adventure. We’re praying that we all stay healthy and safe, and are very aware that being able to isolate ourselves in a warm home, with food and entertainment, is a huge privilege compared to others . For this we are very grateful.”
CHRISTIANNA & FAMILY
Today was the first day that Christianna felt well enough to be up and about, after two weeks self isolating, as she and her husband both had Covid-19 symptoms.
“It was absolutely awful, definitely the worst flu that we’ve ever had. My parents live in an annexe in our garden, so they were able to keep away from us, and amazingly it hasn’t affected the children at all. So many things have changed for us overnight due to Corona, all our plans for 2020; building work, travels and studies have all been put on hold, but in the great scheme of things that is really ok, and we’re so grateful to be recovering because we know people who are severely ill.
Last night was the first night that we had dinner with my parents. The children missed them so much and were asking for them daily. My mum works as a carer for the elderly, and her visits are vital to them, so she is continuing to work. She also delivered groceries and meals for us when we were poorly. As for life at home, and home schooling, the children are great, we have our moments but we’re all getting along; juggling work, study, home education, there’s not a particularly strict schedule but that’s fine for us. My husband is now working harder than ever - 14 hour days so we don’t see him much.
I love food and cooking, so much that I’m making food and nutrition my career and it’s really helping home life feel a little more comforting. My little one said that having more of mummy’s cooking is one of the good things about being at home. Food is how I look after my family and right now it’s how I stay connected to the world by sharing my recipes and talking about my favourite subject.
Overall we feel grateful for many things, and are lucky to have an allotment very nearby. The plan is to start planting on Sunday, and eventually we hope to have enough produce to share with people on our road which is a lovely thought.”
NAOMI, ALEX AND KIDS
We’re both working full time from home so remote learning for the kids has been very challenging. There’s so much out there in terms of online activities which is great but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with what is expected. Currently our 10 year old is in charge of schoolwork.
We have had a few close friends who had coronavirus early on, and have been isolating longer than most of us. We have a street WhatsApp group which is a great way of ensuring that everyone has what they need. It also acts as an access to a library of old things and everyone has been lending and borrowing anything from pressure washers, lawn movers to jigsaws, as well as sharing food deliveries. We’re so grateful to have a garden. I bit the bullet early on and bought a trampoline when I realised schools would close. To be honest learning from home needs to be understood in the broader sense to apply to us - cooking, finding new ways to play and spending time together.
It’s so nice being home together, with the kids playing outside in this lovely weather. Before the pandemic our schedule was so full on, long hours, both kids at breakfast and after school club. I really don’t miss the morning rush, the commute and rushing back home again! Spending less time commuting means I can spend more time connecting with family and friends so that’s a real positive. We miss socialising with friends. There’s been two babies born recently so we’re looking forward to meeting them.
Overall we feel grateful. We’re lucky, we have jobs and plenty of food which isn’t the case for everyone. There is so much to take forward, to not forget when we are through this. A new sense of enjoying the small things, reconnecting to what matters, a true understanding of resourcefulness., sufficiency, resilience and care that we can carry on with us when we create a new normal”
Alex is British and Naomi is Swiss Japanese. They met in Australia.
Clare lives at home with her husband Phil, and two teenage daughters. Clare has campaigned for years for quieter neighbourhoods and roads fit for people not just cars.
Clare: “This has been a very strange season for me - traffic has dropped to almost nothing, and everyone, young and old, suddenly seems to be cycling! The cause of this change is thoroughly unwelcome, but now that we have it, we're campaigning to keep our streets as low in traffic as possible and for plenty of space for family-safe cycling.
We’re all working from home now, and enjoying the respite from the journey to Wapping. The girls are both introverts so not missing school much, happy playing Minecraft with friends online - I worry about how they will find going back to school.
I’ve been volunteering for the Mustard Seed programme, a provider of meals to the vulnerable. Under lockdown it now delivers those meals as well as hampers of groceries. There was a call for 'drivers' so I borrow a neighbour's cargo bike and help deliver food to households once a week. It's a good way to exercise apart from anything else and I like the fact that the cargo bike (which has electric assist) is zero emission. It's also a lot of fun! Our street WhatsApp group means we have all helped each other out. Next door is a care home and the residents and staff were ill last week. People did loads of baking and left brownies, cupcakes etc on their doorstep which cheered them up no end.
More family time is positive- we are board game lovers and have played together nearly every day! I do miss cafes, seeing my friends, worship and hugs at church.
Overall I’m feeling more relaxed, more philosophical, more in touch with what really matters than before. “
ANNETTE, REUBEN & THEO
“I work part time as an Anaesthetic Nurse in central London. Initially I watched the news intently. I worried about how I could keep myself safe and prevent spreading germs to my family once I got home. But going to work was my escape from home schooling and the news. It was a place where I could see my friends and work alongside my outstanding colleagues. Our PPE situation did not reflect what the news reported – we were the lucky ones. Everyone was provided with an abundance of PPE. Operating lists were cancelled in order to free up staff and resources for the COVID-19 influx and we all had extra training with a view to support our colleagues in ITU and on the wards. The teamwork has been incredible to witness and makes me so proud to work where I do with all these amazing people! I do feel guilty now working from home, but I know that the things I do in a non-clinical capacity means that my colleagues are able to concentrate on their vital work in the hospital.
The boys miss their Grandparents but we are lucky enough to live around the corner, so we visit every day to wave from the pavement. It is the highlight of the children’s day rain or shine. They excitedly speak of the day’s adventures then afterwards we hunt for rainbows in windows on the way home. Regular scooter rides around the block and through the local wetlands are a welcome relief away from the constant Coronavirus analysis on the news. I have also started to take better care of our garden whilst Chase spends time working on his electronic music.
Shopping for our groceries continues to be a surreal experience. At the start I was worried about the empty shelves, about whether I could get nappies and milk or the right kind of chicken nuggets! Queues seemed endless and nobody was taking social distancing seriously. I am much more reassured now measures are extra stringent, queues are orderly and shelves are better stocked.
I am channelling my inner teacher whilst tackling lockdown learning, and the school are supplying plenty of resources! The children seem to be adapting well. They relish the slower pace of life, no frantic school run or rushing to weekend clubs.. The odd request to play in the park, visit the zoo or have a friend round can be difficult to handle and explain especially to Theo who simply doesn’t understand. When Reuben’s friends walk by there is such excitement at seeing those familiar faces. Chase is not able to work remotely – he is a screen printer so is at home now until his work place reopens again. However we’re getting so much family time. He often missed seeing the kids in the morning and evenings as they would already be tucked up in bed. Weekends consisted of gymnastics, football, play dates, homework and birthday parties, with few spare moments to squeeze in proper family time. Now we have all the family time we could hope for! The boys love spending more time together and are learning to be more understanding of one another. I find that we are getting to know our neighbours better – no one is rushing – there is always time to stop and talk now - at a distance! We are also experts at lockdown birthdays, celebrating our third at the start of May!
I miss popping over to meet a friend, eating out, the work commute, the school run, family days out, coffee and cuddling, I miss a lot of things but something like this puts everything into perspective. We have our health, our safety and each other, the most important things of all.”
MAHAN & MITCH, ALEX AND JAMIE
“After our Easter holiday was cancelled I decided to spend my week off volunteering for Cooking Champions, which was set up by my friend Clare . My son Alex (15) joined me. I've always loved cooking but this has taken it to a whole new level. We managed to cook over a 1000 meals in one week. I'm back at work now (from home) but still managing to help twice a week.
The meals are delivered to the NHS staff at the North Middlesex hospital, care homes and vulnerable families.
The boys have been amazing. The deal is you get your school work done then you have all the time you need for your own interests.
I’m trying not to miss my family, friends, trains into London and browsing through the shops and galleries. Driving our dog Robbie to the park was a daily occurrence before too but as we can't use the car to get to the park it's become a challenge to walk him there as he's getting on a bit now. The neighbours and I have managed to swap food, alcohol, plants and laughs. I just love them and the growing community I'm getting to know around us. I really want to give them all a huge hug but of course I won't just yet!
Mitch: I always suspected that I enjoyed the social aspect of work and working at home for the last 5 weeks has confirmed it. I don't miss the commute but work is now different and it takes time to find a new rhythm. However it's nice to be at home with the family. We all get on with our own work and are lucky to have enough space for all of us.
Phone calls to 84 yr old mother every day hopefully keeps her connected but I have run out of conversation points. I’m missing tennis club for exercise and social life. I have even started a bit of baking - German pretzels going down very well with the boys especially. Overall I feel very lucky compared to many and I hope we become less selfish as a society when this is all over.
Alex (15) My life hasn't changed much during quarantine. I enjoy it quite a lot. School is more relaxed and I get to sleep in more as my paper rounds start later. It gets a bit boring but overall I'm enjoying quarantine.
Jamie (13) The pandemic has stopped me from doing all my sports activities such as tennis and the whole family is at home so it's very busy. I have to do Google classroom everyday to substitute for school and am finding myself getting bored more often than not. I am reading more books and we have started our own game night to relax together.”
RITA & LOUELLA
This is Rita (35). She is from London. She’s on sabbatical leave, looking after her daughter Louella (2).
“My life is a rollercoaster. Very stressful sometimes with good and bad days. Sadly two of my closest friends lost loved ones to coronavirus, which is very upsetting, especially with restrictions at funerals.
My daughter asks all the time ‘why don’t we go out?’ It’s all she wants. She wants to go to the park because she loves playing on the trampoline and swings. But when we get there and we don’t have access, she cries, and we just have to come back. I enjoy spending time with my daughter, and walking a mile to the rhythm and zumba. That keeps me healthy and happy. Friends and family have helped me, but when I go to the shops I have no choice but to take Louella with me which is hard.
We were not prepared for this predicament and I pray for those who have lost loved ones for God’s strength and comfort at this difficult time. I pray for those who are sick for God's healing and strength. I thank all NHS workers for all their support and hard work that they given to our country. Lastly I thank my family and friends for their tremendous support they have given me and my daughter.”
JOHN & FIONA
This is John and Fiona. They’re both retired, and live near their three daughters and seven grandchildren. They both help with a voluntary organisation providing food for the vulnerable in Hertford.
Fiona: “ I started working for the NHS over 4O years ago as a physio at Chase Farm and ended up as the Director of the hospital. Now I work remotely, for a GP organisation, and I volunteer for the North London Hospice.
It is lovely to see neighbours who are all very friendly especially on Thursday evenings.
One of our daughters occasionally helps with shopping but we have managed through online deliveries. We go for lovely walks most days, finding new undiscovered walks in Enfield. Our evening meal has become a nice feature of the day and we enjoy drinks and chats via zoom with close friends. We both miss hugs and cuddles with our grandchildren and daughters and spending time with them. John is making wooden toys for them. I love hearing my oldest grandson read every day and helping with his schoolwork via zoom.
John still works as a tour guide at Tottenham Hotspur stadium. He misses conducting tours and watching matches.
I miss having things to look forward to, going to the theatre, out for meals, coffee with friends. We have travelled a great deal in the last few years and I miss not knowing when and where we can travel to in the future.
John says he is feeling fine and copes by not dwelling on the situation.
I feel anxious about when this will end and what the future holds. I wonder when we will feel relaxed around others, and be able to give someone a hug or kiss. What will the economic impact be for our children? The uncertainty is horrible. Overwhelmingly I feel sad that this situation has occurred.”
Personal Trainer & Pilates instructor.
“It's been a difficult and worrying time for us. Cancer and Corona don't mix. I’m fitter than the average person, but I have stage 4 breast cancer, and a compromised immune system. It took almost four weeks to recover from covid 19 symptoms. During that period my chemotherapy was suspended, as it would have been too dangerous to continue with it. An enforced treatment break coupled with the fear of being admitted to hospital was pretty scary.
My sisters were a godsend. They made sure we were adequately fed and watered during those initial tough weeks. Neighbours and friends reached out to help. Thankfully, I managed to get through it. Self-care in the form of exercise and breath work also helped my recovery, I’m sure. My treatment has now resumed, but sadly there are plenty of others whose treatment has been stopped for a long time, because the risk of getting the coronavirus outweighs the risk of their cancer progressing. How mad is that? Cancer patients are also facing a global crisis. Cancer doesn’t stop, but hopefully in time covid will. In the UK, there are approximately 165,000 deaths from cancer every year; that’s around 450 each and every day. Being active on social media enables me to raise awareness and contribute to the need for research into stage 4 cancers. I also like connecting with others, especially on Instagram, as it helps me. I feel less alone, and find that writing about my experience is cathartic.
How do I cope mentally? I take one day at a time and don’t look too far ahead. Short-term forward planning gives each day purpose. Distraction is key and routine is helpful. I have mixed feelings about lockdown. It’s been wonderful spending quality time with the family, but there have been some tense moments. I think everyone will welcome some peace and solitude when this is all over. I’m categorised as ‘vulnerable’ and therefore have to shield until the end of June. Admittedly, I’ve had some particularly anxious episodes because of this. I miss being able to do things when I want. I miss my family and friends; Zoom meetings just aren't the same! I miss seeing my clients, teaching classes and being outdoors too!
Right now though, I feel good, calm and happy, but i’ll be relieved when we're all through this safe and sound. Then, I’ll have only cancer to worry about.”
MAGGIE, TIM AND FAMILY
Maggie, a writer, and Tim, an optometrist, live in Palmers Green with their three children; Evie, eleven; Lola, eight and William, four.
“It’s been a time of reflection, a moment to concentrate on what matters and despite what’s going on in the world, a time of strange peace for us. That’s not to say we haven’t struggled with aspects of this and got on each other’s nerves - that happens on practically a daily basis! We’re both self-employed which feels quite precarious right now. Tim is off work so has taken on the main childcare, homeschooling and cooking duties while I work upstairs four days a week. It’s a major challenge for him to get the girls to sit down and study, especially with William, our rambunctious four year old in the mix. We learnt early on, you just can’t force it.
We’re keeping an eye on our 75 year-old next door neighbour Eleni, who has been self isolating for the past three months due to underlying health issues. Sadly, she’s lost a few friends to Covid-19. Although her family live nearby, she hasn’t been able to see them so we’ve been the only people she’s physically sees on a daily basis, albeit it over the garden wall.
Overall, it’s been a strangely life affirming time for us. I love not being in a crazy rush all the time; running to get out the door for school and work every morning and commuting into central London. We’ve enjoyed simple things: more walks in the woods, family bike rides on quiet roads and watching the robin nest in our garden. I love having the children near me all the time and eating every meal all together. Yes, we have good days and shouty days and times when we get bored but overall I’m feeling the love. This has taught me that it’s all about teamwork more than anything.”
THE TAYLOR FAMILY
“We are a family of four. Although not physically here, Henry is with us forever and always. Whilst most of the country have been isolating for weeks, our social isolation started 6 months ago when our gorgeous son died unexpectedly from a sudden, short, unknown illness. Henry was a very healthy, fit and active eight year old, a few weeks away from his ninth birthday. Grief is a lonely, empty place, with all that was once familiar gone. The unimaginable loss distancing us from those that we love and love us, as the unbearable pain is hard to comprehend unless you’ve lived it.
At home we are surrounded by Henry’s presence and, restricted to staying local, we regularly retrace old steps – both a comfort and a challenge, as escaping grief is limited. Early on we developed symptoms of the virus. It was the most ill we’ve been in adulthood, Rich suffering the most, Giselle less so. The hardest thing for Giselle was not having Henry around whilst we were ‘out of action’. Sadly and expectedly, this has been the enduring impact of lockdown.
Henry loved being at home and they would disappear for hours in a world of their imagination, whether Playmobil in the attic, Lego cities in bedrooms, building dens or assault courses in the garden. We miss the noise of being a family of four as well as quieter movie nights with ‘discussions’ around what to watch...We’re trying to work but are realistic about what we can achieve. Getting clean and dressed is an achievement, completing school/paid work gets bonus points.
We realise that many people are dealing with trauma and grief as a result of Covid-19, through someone close dying, loss of income or increased anxiety and fear. We feel grateful that we have been supported by friends and family showing that they care by simply messaging or phoning for a chat and not being afraid to talk about our loss or mention Henry. On the positive side, we are bonding as a family through cycle rides in the evenings when it’s quiet. Giselle is counter-balancing any benefits with irresistible baking! Also lockdown hair is making me smile - something that we can all relate to!”
SAM, ANDY, BYRON (6)
Sam “At the start of lockdown I set up an art club on Instagram @artclub_n13. It was born out of wanting to keep in touch with our community and bringing people together - friends, family, neighbours or people overseas. It has given us a focus on a Saturday and we love seeing our friends and their kids get involved. It has definitely made us feel less isolated especially at the beginning of the lockdown. Some local illustrators select winners each week; it is really nice that people have wanted to get involved and help. Working from home is a challenge as Byron is being set a lot of school work. Some days we do more than others but we definitely don’t force it. We want to remember this as a fun family time and make some good memories.
We are lucky that we are healthy, and have never felt luckier about where we live. We have a super friendly road, it is a really tight community. Even outside of the lockdown we have always supported each other and now this support system has magnified. At the beginning we were quite nervous about the aspect of “staying in” 24/7! We are a sociable family, our lives packed with work and school, parties and social gatherings and at weekends we are rarely in the house! I can quite honestly say we have all loved it! Re-connecting without all of the pressures that modern life enforces on us all is so nice and comforting. The sense of people wanting to help and the togetherness has been a positive to have come out of all of this and hopefully the world will be a little bit kinder when we do return to the ‘new normal’. “
BETH , JACOB AND MOLLY
Beth: “I am an optimist and Jacob (10) and Molly (8) take their lead from me. Luckily none of our loved ones have suffered so we are frankly loving life right now.
I work as a Learning Support Assistant for children with special needs. I support vulnerable students with their schooling and pastoral needs from home. It is a very challenging time for them and I miss them terribly but am so proud of how they are managing. I am a single parent so the three of us are exceptionally close and love having extended time together. They go to their dad’s once a fortnight which gives them a change of a scene and other children to play with and leaves me alone in the house. My heart goes out to those people in isolation. Too much self-reflection can be overwhelming and I recommend a daily dose of Joe Wicks and to keep talking; the secret to good mental health is communication and realising that no one is truly alone. We have a ‘Corona check in’ list reminding us to keep in touch with others.
We are part of the Highlands Village coronavirus support group so we shop and bake for our vulnerable neighbours. We have decorated wooden discs to hand out to key workers to show our gratitude. My dad has been living in Hong Kong for have 30 years, so we are familiar with being virtually connected and experiencing love through a screen. Therefore I am able to feel and show my immense love for my boyfriend in Reading. He works with vulnerable drug addicts who face unspeakable challenges. It is easy to forget about these members of society from our palaces of safety.
I am deeply sad for those who have lost loved ones to this contagion but, my goodness, in so many ways it has brought sunshine.”
AMY, TOM, OTTO & TILLY
Amy: “For many, adapting to lockdown was probably a big shock, but we’ve been living like this for 8 months. Otto was diagnosed with cancer last September; he underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy which means his immune system is low. We are used to being germ-aware, washing our hands, and restricting our movements. We’ve been very strict on self isolation, and will continue to be.
Part of our lockdown experience has included taking turns to stay in hospital with Otto for a week at a time. The level of care at Great Ormond Street is incredible, they care for the whole family not just Otto. Having wonderful toys and visits from therapy dogs, ‘The Minions’ or even ‘Spider-Man’ certainly helps! Throughout it all Otto has never once moaned. Home life is good. Tom works in the new ‘home office’ and I teach and play with the kids most of the day, only breaking at lunch to run art classes for kids online.
We’ve been put on priority delivery from supermarkets and buy food online for Tom’s parents. GOSH and the community nurses have been very supportive. We feel extremely thankful for the NHS and the care for the vulnerable.
Life at home is full of ups and downs. It’s not perfect, we can get on each others’ nerves but we’ve enjoyed each other more, and will definitely come out stronger as a family. We’ve been getting creative, with lots of art, messy play, den making and playing in the garden!
Overall our experience of living with the big C has been that more good things have come out of it, than bad. We have been overwhelmed by the outpourings of kindness from people. It’s easy to be cynical about life and other people, but it turns out that human beings are pretty amazing. In fact so many people have offered helpthat sometimes we’ve had to turn it down. I think the rainbows in people’s windows are wonderful symbols of this kindness. People just want to show they care.”
ALISON & MATTHEW
“I am a curate for a church in Edmonton, doing what I can over the phone and zoom but it’s not enough. I hold a Mums’ prayer group each morning. A number of them are on their own with small children with no outdoor space, so it puts things into perspective. We’ve all been affected in some way but to me, the evidence of my own eyes and ears has confirmed the marked difference between this side of the A10 and the other.
Stories of loss are not hard to come by in our parish and as an area of relative deprivation with a high BAME population, this sadly and predictably fits into the national picture that is emerging. The virus has laid bare the depth of structural and social injustice in our society. One mother, who I know well, has lost a very good friend and two members of her close family. She is still managing to feed over 160 people via drop offs and deliveries from our church hall. The hope lies in this strong sense of community and my hope is that we can somehow build bridges across the borough, learning and being inspired by this mother’s example of tragedy and triumph.
As a family we have been fine. Positives include a mean Vietnamese pho and prawn noodle salad that is now a go to recipe. Positives and negatives in equal measure are more time as a family; hard to get away from the noise is the main negative! Praying together with other mums as our children wail or try to run off with our laptops has got me through some tough days. Joe is working hard at home. He’s an agent for writers and directors. There is a whole sector closure in terms of TV and film production so he’s mostly managing the shockwaves of that.
This stage has a strange uncertain sense of what may lie ahead. Trying to quarantine my Twitter feed as too much despair is not good, and faith is always the enduring ‘nevertheless’ of it all.”
DEBRA, JAMILA, ELOISE, BILLY
By Jamila (20)
“At the start of lockdown, I was nervous about coming home from university, as I hadn’t lived with my family for the last couple of years. I was getting used to becoming a young woman with my own space in Brighton, but when Covid-19 hit I thought it would be best to be at home.
I remember the evening Boris announced restaurants and pubs would close. I was on my way to work (7Bone Burger, Hove) when I realised I wasn’t needed but also didn’t want to go home just yet. I stayed on the bus for as long as possible, I didn’t get off at my stop and just appreciated life as we knew it for a bit longer.
Fast forward twelve weeks - Mum works Monday - Friday half days from home, which gives her some structure. She has us working like a mini military army doing house chores : cooking, washing, bins, food shopping. Mum only cooks on Saturdays! Eloise (15) was meant to sit her GCSE’s but they have been cancelled, her school has set early A level work. She happily spends most days playing with the at and tortoise. At first Billy (13) was mostly on the Xbox and rushed his school work; three months and a lot of nagging later he has balanced them out.
After losing my Dad to cancer last February home was never my favourite place to be as it held a lot of memories. Being stuck inside with my mum, sister and brother for so long has changed my opinion. Like all families we have had our fair share of arguments during lockdown but it has also taught me how lucky I am to have such a kind, funny, caring family. I believe this is what we needed, quality time together to make new memories, without being distracted by the outside world.”
ROCHELLE & WESLEY
Rochelle is 38 weeks pregnant. She lives with husband Wesley and french bulldog Biggie.
“We are expecting our rainbow baby, a baby born following the loss of another baby. Our baby girl Alba died in 2016 due to complications during labour. We then had IVF to conceive this baby boy.
I’m doing well and staying home as much as possible to keep safe until he arrives. We are having a planned c-section on Monday 22nd June. We both work in local government and started working from home a week before the official lockdown as we were really worried about catching the virus.
Wearing a mask and attending hospital appointments alone has been a strange experience. We are so pleased that Wesley will be able to be there for our planned Csection but will have to leave shortly after. We understand why this is necessary but it still fills us with sadness to know that he'll miss out on those precious first hours. We are really looking forward to all being home together. With limited visitors we will be able to enjoy lots of special bonding time.
As you can imagine this was already a very anxious time for us and the pandemic just created more stress and worry. However I have found safety in our lockdown bubble at home. I try to enjoy our daily exercise, walking the dog and looking for rainbows in people’s windows. The rainbows have definitely helped lift my spirits. To me they’re a symbol of hope that everything will be ok with our rainbow baby.”
EDDIE, CHIOMA & DAUGHTERS
“Lockdown has given my daughters time to do more of what they love, cycling, playing, creating artwork, baking. We aren’t too regimented about schoolwork but they can’t just watch TV all day. They rattle through their work, and then lose themselves in hours of drawing. There’s a lot of talk about children falling behind academically, but I’m more worried about the permanent impact of lockdown, the lack of social contact.
My Nigerian parents had a strong work ethic focused on academic achievement. They taught me that I had to work twice as hard as my white counterparts in order to get a good job. We have always discussed racism with the girls, as they’ve been affected by it during their young lives. We talk about everything that has been highlighted by the death of George Floyd. We want them to grow up self confident, knowing that their skin colour is beautiful.
Like my parents, we emphasise the need to do their absolute best at whatever they do, but we encourage creative pursuits too. They both love drawing. At first our eldest mainly drew images of white people. We encouraged her to make her art more self-referential, so that she could subconsciously place herself at the centre of any narrative. Our aim is to empower them with the knowledge that their Black is beautiful. Also, by teaching them about their rich Nigerian heritage (Yoruba and Igbo), we seek to give them a truer representation of Africa. We want them to believe that they can achieve anything that they put their minds to.
I photographed the BLM protests in Central London and was moved to tears by what I saw: a diverse community supporting the cause, almost half the crowd was white; a gathering of races recognising that we’re all human. Some photographers were keen to show any outbreaks of aggression, just to make a sale. I chose to focus on truthful storytelling about this peaceful uprising. Our girls have used a few of my protest images in their art and the results are fantastic. Lockdown has allowed them to explore their creativity and their artistic ability has gone from strength to strength.”
YASMIN, DAVID, ROCKY
“How do we feel? Stressed sometimes, but mostly we are grateful for what we have. Despite missing family, we are managing to stay cheerful and are getting creative with themed activities. At times we feel reflective and optimistic.
I’m a local teacher and my husband is a black cab driver. As head of year 7, I spend my day making welfare calls. David waa furloughed so has made the most of the good weather and time with Rocky. He’s built him a playhouse in the garden, which he wouldn’t usually have time to do.
Early on we set up a neighbourhood group to help each other out, and we all had a VE Day party in our road. As we live near a big block of flats the clapping and waving was immense! We also set up a lockdown themed cafe and restaurant for our neighbours.
We miss everyday things like hugging family, wild swimming, school and travel. We miss being masters of our own destiny. However, we have enjoyed spending long days together, discovering new walks in our beautiful local area. Making iPhone videos has been a fun distraction, oh and we’ve made our own dandelion honey!”
JOSEPH, MARK, BEN, TOBY, GEORGIE
“Life at home is hard. It’s not really a life - it is surviving. Managing the demands of a baby and two young boys is frustrating, as I can’t do everything I’d like to for the twins; they end up freeplaying and watching TV which makes me feel like a failure as a parent and teacher. Thankfully my husband Mark comes home from work and helps at mealtimes. Otherwise I would find it very hard to cope.
I avoid social media, its images of achievements and amazing activities just make me feel as if I’m not trying hard enough.
We do the best we can. We play in the garden and go out for walks. We love to bake, draw and paint. But they miss their grandparents who they adore and the variety that nursery brings. Although they have each other, fighting and tantrums have escalated in lockdown. It makes me feel like an awful parent. I feel like an awful partner too because we spend little time together, collapsing tired into bed each night. The house is tidy but still I see dust everywhere and it makes me sad. We are both exercising less, and I have gained weight too.
On the plus side Mark spends more time with the children and it’s lovely to have them at home . We can enjoy them more and they’ve really bonded with Georgie who is blossoming right now.
It’s sad to be missing out on opportunities with Georgie. We lived through extreme trauma when the boys were born and spent a year in limbo, going between hospitals. It’s as if we have been robbed of a normal newborn experience again. Unable to enjoy this stage fully, it reminds me of last time - the isolation, worry and inescapable daily monotony. At times I feel very sad and just plain bored.
Every day we say 'I love you' and try to show how proud we are of each other. A baby makes you stop and appreciate every little change and realise how amazing children are. We are lucky to have our health, home and each other.”
MICK & DI
"Retired, married for 50 years with 4 children and 11 grandchildren. At the beginning of lockdown our children were very worried about us. It was quite a role reversal - they told us not go out, gave firm instructions for keeping safe and insisted on doing our shopping. They were even doubtful about us exercising. However, we took daily walks, as permitted by the government. Our road’s Whatsapp offered help as did our church. Before this we hadn’t considered ourselves old but we began to feel quite ancient! It was good to feel looked after and lovely to have more contact with our family; we got to know neighbours who we’d hardly spoken to before.
We are very active people so lockdown gave us a break. We have finished all sorts of jobs around the house. I made some curtains and baked which was very rewarding. We enjoyed gardening at a relaxed pace knowing what didn’t get done today could be done tomorrow. As well as walking, we’ve been doing online yoga and Mick has cut down on alcohol and lost weight! This was surprising as his daily Chocolate Almond Magnum had became an obsession and was a constant worry if not supplied by the grocery delivery! My worry is my hair, and the grey roots but when will it feel safe to go to the hairdressers?
We’ve missed our grandchildren most of all but luckily three families live nearby and we’ve had a lots of fun doorstep visits. We moved a wooden seat to the front garden so that we could chat. It has become a symbol of lockdown. We played all sorts of fun games including lowering a basket of goodies from the upstairs window. But it’s not the same as having a cuddle.
We are certainly the lucky ones but feel a great sadness for those who have been ill or have lost loved ones, for those worried about jobs and finances and people living in difficult situations. We wonder what the future will hold. Will we be able to look after our grandchildren or socialise without worrying? This has been an opportunity to completely change the way we live for a while. Although hard times lie ahead for many, we are hopeful that we will have better priorities and that some changes will be for the better."
"The first time I heard of COVID 19 was at work, two months before lockdown. The hospital told us that if the virus spread, our ward would become a COVID ward. I work at North Middlesex University hospital on an oncology ward as a charge nurse. My first reaction was that it seemed more serious than we had thought. I didn’t panic though. It was our duty to be ready for what lay ahead.
As it spread, we discharged the oncology patients and all services were stopped. We had ‘fit testing’ to see if the masks were the right size, and a few masks and aprons were handed out. Soon after we started to admit patients.
The scope of patients coming through our doors was wide - a range of ages, ethnicity, with different types of underlying health conditions. It took time to adjust to going back to general medicine. We are trained to give chemotherapy, to care for palliative patients, so this was new for most of the staff.
We worked non stop. Lots of patients were being admitted, staffing levels were low due to colleagues feeling unwell. It took its toll - every shift was busy, and in the back of our minds was the thought “ what if I catch it?” In these situations you just have to solider on, take it day by day. It was exhausting and mentally tough because of what we saw. At the same time we were trying our very best to help people.
Lockdown itself didn’t affect me too much, because I was working so hard. I missed my family, but they were more worried about me and my risk of infection. Video calls helped, they distracted me from work. It gave me strength to know that my family were proud of me. The public were great too, food was delivered to the hospital daily, and Uber gave us 10 free rides!
We are treating oncology patients again but also making plans for a second wave. eg a unit in the car park where they can receive chemo safely. Certain things that happened during the pandemic will stay with me forever. It’s a reminder that you never know what's around the corner, and not to take anything for granted."
Simon sports design from @catapultclothing applauding #lockdownlegends
"My name is David (41) I live alone with 3 puddycats: Ethel (10) a grey tabby, Betty and Talullah (8), tortoise shells. My son (4) lives in Kent with his mum. I didn’t see him for the majority of lockdown as I didn’t want to risk their health.
I work for the NHS in mental health as a Senior Physical Health and Wellbeing Practitioner. June 12th marked my 20th anniversary in the service which I am very proud of. Although not immediate frontline I cared for patients with COVID-19 and worked hard to minimise the spread. Before this we were a department of two working over twelve wards. During the pandemic, we became a team of six covering Specialist Services, which covers twenty-two different areas. It has been challenging, bringing physical health to the forefront of mental health services. Sadly some staff and patients lost their battles to this awful virus. I recently had the antibody test, it came back positive which was a shock. Despite having no symptoms, it means I have fought the virus at some point.
Life at home has been very lonely to be honest. Thank god for my fur babies. One positive is realising that I have come a long way in my own life. It was incredibly hard at work, with 70 hour weeks at one stage. I have been resourceful and stepped up, taking on additional responsibilities to ensure we work effectively. My parents and younger brother are no longer with us, having had illnesses pre-COVID. I have missed them terribly. My brother passed away only last year; he has left a big hole in my life. I have also missed my little boy SO much, it’s like I’ve lost a limb when I’m not with him! I miss my friends too. They’re family to me and have supported me through dark times.
It’s strange, I spend my day working hard and come home to no-one. I’m not good with all this zoom/houseparty stuff as I’m a tactile person and prefer to hug rather than chat online. I’m a survivor, life has to go on and I’ve learnt it’s ok to feel sad, lonely or have a good cry. But I am a mostly happy person and embrace what I have, including my health. I intend to live as fully as possible. Life is too short, you never know what is around the corner."
"I contribute to a Homeless Outreach project run by Palmers Green Mosque. On the first Saturday of lockdown I ventured into central London to distribute food as I’ve been doing for the past 2 years. I didn’t know what to expect. A crowd of desperate people surrounded my car. It was like a scene from a third world country; because of the virus nobody else had turned up and without me, these people would have gone hungry. I couldn’t believe this was London.
My family have continued preparing warm meals weekly, but now we also create food parcels for the local community. A wonderful organisation ‘Love Your Doorstep’ (Enfield) has responded to the crisis, creating a consortium of 30 charities from the borough, supplying meals to those in need due to the pandemic. PGM provides food parcels, Cooking Champions serves home cooked meals, North Enfield Food bank supplies home-packs. An army of volunteers helps with delivery and sourcing.
The mosque has helped fund and source food supplies, from McDonald’s frozen burgers to whole halal goat legs. Bounds Green Mutual Aid was one of the beneficiaries. Demand was such that we suggested the need for a food bank but they had no idea how to go about it. Amazingly three weeks later with huge collaborative effort Bounds Green Mutual Aid opened the doors to a food bank that caters for 60+ households a day. It’s a friendly place open to the whole community, without judgement or restrictions.
We’re now forging a new venture with streetbox, a scheme where for every veg box bought, they donate a box to the food bank.
We’re also working on an initiative with Dr Husna Ahmed OBE to support 60+ Muslim families for 3 months with weekly nutritious tailored food supplies.
It’s been wonderful to see how the whole community has pulled together regardless of faith or background. Moving forward the template and drive has been established, where the community needs help, there will always be ‘Community’ to help!
I run Cooking Champions, a food focused social enterprise. Pre-COVID I worked with schools and had started local community cooking groups to make meals for a homeless charity The Little Things.
The start of lockdown was a huge period of change. I work as a secondary maths teacher at Highlands School, so had to move to setting school work online. All my catering events for my commercial business Splendour and Sparkle were postponed or cancelled. I needed a project to focus my thoughts and energy. At the end of March I put a post on social media asking for help preparing meals for the vulnerable. In the space of 24 hours a small but very keen group of cooks had prepared and distributed 396 meals. This was a massive stepup from our usual 50 meals a week. Winchmore Hill Sports Club generously let us use their facilities, we were soon making over 1,000 meals a week. We are now based at the Millfield Theatre and have made over 20,000 meals over the past few months and distributed a further 17,000.
This period has brought the huge local community spirit to the forefront. People have volunteered their time, shared their resources and donated money to a level that still blows me away today when I think about it. I appreciate I am in a very fortunate position so my lockdown experience has been not too bad although I am missing seeing friends and family and there have been a few events that have been postponed such as going to the Tokyo Olympics and my engagement party. When these eventually happen I will be even more grateful for these special occasions.
Being a teacher I thought I had a reasonably good understanding of different peoples’ needs in the community. However this project has been eye opening and at times heart breaking simply due to the huge number of people who need help due to a diverse range of circumstances. It has motivated me to learn more and do more, especially as the number of referrals we are getting is increasing due to other projects stopping.
I’m feeling a little bit tired because in total it’s been a 22 week project but I am energised and supported by the most amazing team - the kitchen crew, admin which has been coordinated by Emma Rigby (LYDS) and delivery volunteers. Recently we have launched free recipe cards to try at home. We hope to start delivering live cooking lessons and training opportunities in the very near future. My ultimate dream would be to run a community cafe and catering training academy in Enfield.
I have spent the last 15 years volunteering wherever I can. Once a week Rudy and I deliver food parcels. We enjoy it, but the experience is bittersweet.
We didn't realise how lonely some people are, particularly the older generation. Lockdown has only increased their sense of isolation, so we put aside the whole day so that we are able to spend time chatting and catching up with them.
The government food deliveries did eventually kick in during the pandemic but Cooking Champions took the bull by the horns from the off set. They have worked incredibly hard over the last few months to ensure that the vulnerable are catered for. What sets them apart is that they deliver whatever the person needs whether that’s warm home cooked meals, dried goods or fresh produce to cook from scratch.
We will continue to volunteer; our love for people is what drives us and we have made great friends on the journey.