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Life in Lockdown - a community project, May 2020

Updated: Feb 15

When the government locked down the UK back in March of this year it soon became apparent to me that those weddings I had booked for the coming months and foreseeable future would most likely not be happening. Over the following days and weeks I saw all my bookings moved to the end of the year, everything shifted and this left me with a little time on my hands.


By the end of April, after a few weeks of adjusting to the way things had changed for my own family, I had begun wondering how other families were coping in this difficult time so I decided to ask around if families and households would be interested in taking part in a little community project to document this time and what 'lockdown' has meant for the local people. In exchange for allowing me to take the portraits of those who lived in the house on their doorstep, they would tell me their stories and let me share them on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. The response that followed was incredible and I became very busy very quickly and sadly ended up turning people down as I had too much to do and so many people to see.


The following are just some of the images and stories I collated (and I am still waiting for a few of the stories) and the rest can be seen on my Instagram here or on my Facebook page here


Rick and Daniel...(and Bruce and Sky the beautiful Labradors)

" We are priviliged to live in a very sociable micro-bubble, Bath Lodge, Worcester. We both work at home so life for us has seen little change. We have missed our friends and family and we have had to deal with Daniel being seriously poorly with Coronavirus but he is fortunately now through it with much relief. We have traded in our active social life for getting the garden ready for the summer and finishing our house renovations. There has been many an afternoon nap after our socially distanced gatherings with our neighbours in the courtyard. Thursday night clapping for carers has brought out my dad's old football rattle that hasn't seen the light of day for 40 years!!"


The Johns Family Kate, Will (not pictured as he was at work) Oli, Oscar, Hugo and Gus

"My son was in the intensive care unit at Bristol children's hospital for 8 weeks between December and February 2020. We were just beginning to settle back to “normal” when Covid 19 reared its ugly head. We were terrified, he still was not 100% and is in the “vulnerable” category. We were torn, I am a NHS midwife, my husband owns a deli, we both need to work. I had just had 10 weeks off work to be with my son in hospital, there was no way I could burden my lovely colleagues by staying off work so I decided to return. My work team are amazing! I go to work but I am shielded and kept away from risk. My husband works every day to keep his business afloat. Lock down has been good for us. We have had time to heal as a family. The tension headache I’ve had for nearly a year has slipped away. We don’t have to be any where at any time, we just have to be together and that suits us fine. Home schooling is not going so well, but hey they are getting to learn other stuff they can’t learn at school. The food bill is enormous and the electricity bill will be too but we have each other and that’s all that matters"


The Bridge Family


"We miss our family and friends very much, especially grandparents- but we have enjoyed spending time together as a family without the usual mad rushing around to school, work and clubs. The children have learnt to knit, have painted and baked and spent hours FaceTiming their friends and of course watched lots of TV! It feels we have stepped back a century in many ways with the slower pace of life but it has been good for us. We will definitely be reassessing our priorities whenever lock down ends"


The Walsh Family

Beth, Phil and Alfie (and Daisy the cat)

Beth: "It's been a mixed bag. We received the news that I had metastatic cancer just after lockdown started. Being able to spend so much time with my husband and son has been just what we needed to deal with that news. Time to be together with nothing to do but 'be'. I've been aware of my privilege, to live in a house with a view in a place like Worcester, where it's easy to find green space, and in a community where people help one another. Slowing down, noticing nature enjoying it's breathing space. Grieving the loss of one of my Dads to Covid has been the hardest part. Yet again, I'm grateful to the friends and family that have rallied to help my Mom, sister and me. And of course grateful to the NHS"


The Boxalls Mel, Chris, Gabriel and Evan (and Frodo and Pingpong the gerbils)


Mel: "Our family is usually so busy that we rarely spend any time at home. Whether it’s chasing about for a daily club, or visiting friends and family, we probably only spend about 5 or 6 weekends home in a year, as a family, with nothing in particular planned. We know we are blessed to have kept our jobs and to be happy and healthy, and therefore, we have been able to take this opportunity to enjoy our home, do the much needed jobs we normally run away from, round the house and garden, and just unwind. We do miss our friends and my mum is in isolation down in Devon, but virtual pub quizzes and video chats have become a staple which help maintain human contact beyond our bubble. We have had some brilliant ‘over the fence’ glasses of wine and chats with our neighbours and taken part in some unique things, like virtual music and drama, clapping for key workers, and planning a virtual VE Day party with our family for mum’s 85th birthday (street parties and celebrations - what a way to have spent your tenth birthday on the actual VE Day!) We know that there are many people for whom lockdown has been a financial, emotional, social nightmare, and we also remember that so many people have tragically, lost their lives before their time. Being mindful of others, we are grateful for the privilege of being able to enjoy this unique time as a family and to make more precious memories"


The Cliftons Neil, Emma, Niamh and Tilly


Emma: "How do we explain our look? I am an intensive care sister and nursing, as I have known it, has changed forever. My scrubs were made by high end fashion designers and supplied as a gift; the knitted nurses made by my Mum so that my daughters have something to hug when I am at work; the overwhelming kindness of family, friends and strangers is something I will never forget; and the applause for the NHS on Thursdays had bought me to tears several times. The Year of the Nurse 2020 it certainly is. Our 8 year daughter celebrated her birthday in lockdown, where the neighbours arranged to be in their back gardens to sing Happy Birthday for her; and for our 10 year old, like all of her friends, life is now based around home schooling and connecting with her friends on social media. And the white dinner jacket? a tribute to Keith Floyd which he wore on a pre lockdown day trip to Toulouse with a friend in February to buy the ingredients for dinner. The French stall holders didn’t quite know what to think of two English men dressed as if they were going to ball while buying fresh bread and ingredients for cassoulet! It really has been a crazy year"


Lisa, Simon and Ted


"We are Lisa, Simon and Ted. We are currently down by 50% in our household. My son (age 8) is isolating at his dads and Simon's sons are with their mum (age 9 and 11). We've not been together as a family for 6 weeks. The reason for this is because Simon is a Police Officer, working full time hours (and more) and we felt it was safer to isolate the boys away from any potential contact, and causing any spread to co-parents. Not the easiest of decisions. FaceTime just isn't the same. We cannot wait to get our family back together. Ted is missing his big brothers. Stay safe everyone and thanks to Cat for taking the time to document this very surreal time xx"


Tim and Rose


"We're both retired but usually lead busy lives out and about. Lockdown has been a mixed blessing. How ironic that after 9 years of making bread we have had to buy some loaves because of flour shortage (but a big thanks to Cath for her supply!). We're missing our family, FaceTime hide and seek with small grandchildren has limitations. We're missing our Church family although online services have meant our good friend in Russia now joins us "at church" every Sunday. We're sorry that Tick Tock, St Peter's Baptist Church toddler group, can't meet. Wednesdays were always exhausting but great fun. The benefits? The garden and allotment have never had so much TLC and navigating Zoom for meetings, socials and Pilates is fun. The photo shows two teddies that belonged to our children. They are usually in our 3 year old granddaughter's bed at our house, waiting for that time when she will be able to sleep over again"


The Hemmings


Kate:"On the whole lockdown has been good for us as a family. Of course we miss family, friends, work and the freedom to go and be wherever you like. But we are together which is a joy many aren’t able to share. We are incredibly fortunate to live at Bath Lodge, a small community of 5 houses. We’ve supported each other with coffee, beers and shopping. Without our neighbours lockdown would have been a very different experience. New skills have been learnt and many cakes baked!"

The Cockeram Family Steve, Maya, Ben & Sophie (with Bunny the dog, Luna the hedgehog and Beardy the dragon)

"We started our lockdown a few days early as Ben got Covid-19. Steve was next and then Maya. Sophie escaped without symptoms, but must have been exposed. After this unpleasant start, we have settled in a new rhythm of life. We feel blessed to have a garden, a variety of pets to fuss over and the spell of lovely weather that has kept our spirits up. Maya’s family, in Sri Lanka, have military imposed curfew to control the pandemic. They cannot go out at all without applying for a permit, so we appreciate the freedoms we have and keep in touch with them online every day. Sophie does her school work online interspersed with episodes of Brooklyn 99 and creating scarily realistic facial injuries with special effects make up! She is doing the Scouts 30 day challenge, sleeping in a tent or den for a month. Ben is furloughed so has taken to improving his salt water fish tanks, FaceTiming his girlfriend and being a ‘spotter’ at a local GP surgery. Steve continues to work from home and surgery, running, learning Tai Chi and pottering in the garden. Maya is furloughed from Fort Royal Primary, but has been enjoying the RSC and National Theatre Live performances and using exercise time to continue to provide respite care for a young person with autism. Our eldest son, Josh, is locked down in Cardiff. He was made redundant along with all his flat mates, so they are trying to keep positive and find work. We come together every evening for a family meal (cooked by each on rota) and to do Jimmy Carr's Little Tiny Quiz of the Lockdown. Thursdays is clap the Key Workers and Saturday is a Zoom extended family meal with 7 households involved. It is these moments of togetherness that sustain us through this bizarre and worrying time“


The Lamberts


"It's been an unusual lock down for us as we are both key workers, so we've still been working and the children are at school/nursery. In some ways our lives haven't had to change that much and yet its all just a little bit strange.

The kids have coped amazingly though, better than we have! They are very black and white and accept that we can't do certain things at the moment because of "the germs."

The hardest part is not being with family but we are lucky enough to be within walking distance of my parents so we'll often use our daily walk to visit and they'll wave at us from their balcony. We can't wait to visit them properly!

On the days we're not working we have enjoyed the slower pace of life, have explored places near our home we'd never have gone to before and we now have a whole host of at home activities up our sleeves to entertain the kids!"


Ros, William and Jenny (with Lily and Stella)


"Initially we felt little change to be being at home. Lockdown restrictions seemed not too dissimilar to the limitations of parenting smaller children on your own. My children’s father has regular phone calls, but he now lives with a front line worker so visiting him has stopped. He visits us once a week in the garden and observes social distancing rules. He’s finding it hard not hugging his children.

I have admiration for how well my daughter has organised and undertaken her schooling, she has kept up with all her high school lessons. She Face-times friends regularly. My son’s primary school lessons have been trickier and he has been much less keen to engage. We are finding a way through it

It was great initially to step off the rat race and the usual routine of weekly dance and swimming lessons. We are now starting to miss the social opportunities that come along with those activities.

What has been lovely is the local community has become connected through social media. A local what’s app group formed, whereby help has been offered for anyone whose in a vulnerable group or currently in isolation in the street. A call out for the weekly NHS clap rallied us and it is now routine. Some good folk assist with the local food bank and various residents have helped make contributions, all of course abiding by social distancing rules.

I am grateful that the spring has been glorious and my garden is flourishing. We have two dogs and three rabbits that afford us wonderful companionship. A planned holiday at Easter was duly cancelled and so instead, we undertook to build a chicken pen. The kids are enjoying caring for the new hens and we are watching the pecking order develop. We are still awaiting the first egg and this project has been a great distraction and kept us busy"

2020 certainly has taken a completely different direction than expected. We are self contained and I feel lucky to be living in a caring community. We are taking each day as it comes"


The Tuckers


"We are a family of four. Today is our wedding anniversary. My husband and I are both GPs and our boys are 10 and 12. The youngest is about to finish Red Hill School (and so has avoided doing SATs so far….), and the eldest is about to become a teenager. Our lives are usually hectic. At this time, pre-lockdown, my husband would not have been home and I would have had to be in two places at once ferrying the boys to and from their various after school clubs and in particular, their rugby commitments. They are missing their rugby and, as much as I moaned about the time it takes up and the mud, we are missing it too. It’s a physical outlet for them and a social gathering for us. Work has changed. We get to see about half of our workforce because others have to shield and work from home. We really appreciate that we get to leave our house during this time and see our colleagues – at a safe distance. There have been huge changes to our role in such a short space of time. Now, we do a lot of consultations remotely and see patients face to face if urgent. The day job is less physical but we have huge ethical dilemmas to deal with. Fortunately the sun has been shining for a large part of lockdown!"


Claire


"During lockdown, rail services have been drastically reduced. Weekdays, from Foregate Street there is one train an hour on the Birmingham Snow Hill line. Road transport, in the form of coaches, is being provided for key workers and essential travel towards Malvern and Hereford, also hourly. Thankfully, passengers are generally abiding by the rules of no non-essential travel, although there are unfortunately some people who are not doing so. It does concern myself and colleagues how we will manage with regard to "social distancing" when the rules are relaxed a little...I honestly don't know how this can be applied in order to enable us to work in a safe environment"


Helen and Alicia (Lulu and Archie Bear)


"The anticipation hit before lockdown as Helen and Alicia are joint owners of a local law firm. How on earth would this lock down work?

For Helen who is an employment lawyer, Coronavirus arrived with oh so much work preparing many businesses on the covid 19 tsunami about to hit.

For Alicia who is designer, lock down has been a chance to work on the house and do what feels like two years of jobs in two months whilst also cultivating a fantastic sun tan.

For Lulu and Archie, wow they love lockdown with full time carers, constant attention and one long walk a day. They know nothing of COVID19, furlough leave, lockdown and a broken economy. All they care for is a regular flow of gravy bones. Oh to be a dog.

We very much look forward to seeing all our friends and family"


Gill

"What I miss most in lockdown are my family and my friends. It has been hard as normally I lead quite a busy life. We have been so lucky with the beautiful weather, it’s enabled me to get out in the garden and made my daily walks a joy. I have not been shopping as my family are doing that for me and this enables me to see either my daughter, son in law or grandson at least once a week when they deliver it, albeit at a distance. My son his wife and my three granddaughters live in London so I haven’t seen them since February but We all keep in touch regularly with group video chats. I also have group video chats with my friends, virtual coffee mornings and afternoon teas. Thank goodness for the internet, don’t know what I’d do without it. Our neighbourhood has set up a WhatsApp group, we are all keeping in touch and there is always an offer of help if I need it. Now that the government have relaxed the rules a little, I can meet one of my family or one of my friends and walk with them. I became a great grandmother end of January this year. I have seen her twice during lockdown through the window. One of the things I am most looking forward to when this nightmare is over is to be able to hold her, cuddle her and give her a great big kiss"


The Kellitt Family Darren, Georgie, Luna and Casper (and Percy)


"Our time in "lockdown" has been a roller-coaster of emotions. Daz works from home as a freelance exhibition designer, and myself looking after Casper & working part-time selling vintage clothing in my online shop. Much of that has had to take a back seat to homeschooling and keeping the kids occupied and busy! We have really enjoyed spending time in the garden, giving us that push we needed to get our veggie garden blossoming. The sunshine has been a bonus!

Luna has experienced several milestones while lock down has been in situ. Learning to ride her bike, asking daddy to cut off her almost-bottom-length long hair and turning 6! She really struggled with the latter as had a party planned with her friends, and had literally been counting down the days.... Nonetheless we made it a fun day with lots of special doorstep drop-offs and video messages from wonderful family and friends. Casper has loved having us all home together. He adores his big sister and their relationship has really blossomed in this period. He's very much missing his Granny and Nana though - it's difficult for him to understand at 3.

On the day this picture was taken, Casper became ill and was rushed to hospital. He's spent the last few weeks recovering in and out of hospital, and that has been particularly tough not being able to see our families at such an emotional and uncertain time. But I'm over the moon to say he's on the mend and a bundle of energy again!"


The Rowells Paula, Tallulah and Tristan (with Willow and Miss FrankieBoo Pig Wig)


"Lockdown has been ok for us because we have had a rough couple of years with family deaths and me being made redundant, so we have been cocooned as a family unit for a while. I was very poorly last summer and it took me a while to recover, so this seems pretty normal to be staying in. It’s like a busmans holiday for Tris as he hardly ever goes out anyway, but he’s doing his school work ..Lula misses her boyfriend & friends but as things are today they FaceTime and Zoom. She has become an avid baker and she made the cake in the photograph for the VE Day celebrations today. I have seen this time as an opportunity, I am a local volunteer for the elderly and it’s so nice to be able to give something back. I’ve also redecorated the kitchen, blitzed the garden and started knitting, but most importantly I’ve reconnected with my kids, the lockdown has given us time to play games, laugh, apologise for things that have happened in the past and talk about our future. I believe everything happens for a reason and this is a new beginning for us Rowells"



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