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Three stories: One virus – The human impact of lockdown in the Coronavirus pandemic

Everyone has been affected differently by the lockdown – so how has it personally affected self-employed people, those who have been furloughed, those on higher education courses?

When the UK lockdown was announced on March 23, there was little certainty on just about every aspect of normal life.

Jobs, education and healthcare, amongst other things, were put on hold and many were left with more questions than answers about how the future would look.

Three people, with very different experiences, have shared the personal impact that lockdown has had on them.

Tracey Nicholson, who was a self-employed childminder at the start of the lockdown, is now unemployed.

Mrs Nicholson, 55, said: “Personally for me, at this time of my life, it’s kind of fallen in the right time to reevaluate life with my job and the future of my career, and my family.

“Now I’ve got my head round it, and that I knew I was going to change my career path the next year anyway to looking after the elderly in the community, that’s what I aim to do.

“I think I suffered the first three weeks of lockdown more, I didn’t show it to my family but inside I felt aimlessly lost.

“I’ve stopped feeling anxious, I was a bit anxious at first, I think everybody was, it was the unknown.

“It was scary for people because we were being told we’ve got no vaccine, there were underlying health issues for people which was coming out which we knew could affect our family and then of course not being able to see loved ones and friends.

“I’m a workaholic, with my big list that I made I guess it’s helping me to keep sane.”

After realising the difficulty of trying to keep working whilst protecting her family, Mrs Nicholson said: “I wasn’t prepared to put (my family) at risk when my job is from the home.

“If it was a nursery or preschool then it’s a separate building but because the children would be coming predominantly into our home, then that was quite a risk, that was too much and that’s what inevitably made me realise that I wasn’t going to continue.

“In short I knew what I had to do for everybody, for my family, my job, and for the children that I care for with their family units.

“I am looking forward to the future and just finding a new enjoyment of a slower pace of life and I’m looking forward to having more time to do the things that I love.”

Tracey’s husband, Keith Nicholson, spoke about his experience of being in lockdown whilst being in full time employment and on a condensed university course.

Mr Nicholson, 59, who was nearing the end of his Level 5 Certificate in Education (CertEd) at the start of the lockdown, said: “Initially being forced to work from home, it was actually harder because I found that you did more work at home than you did pre-lockdown.

“You spend more time looking at emails, waiting for emails to come through, responding to emails, compiling lists, spreadsheets, so the lockdown side of work actually increased.

“We were still expected to be producing work so I found it initially, that first week or two of the lockdown, that I was busier than I would be normally.

“We were nervous, anxious and at times overwhelmed.

“I felt a lot more stress, I just felt the demand was huge and I found it quite tiring at times.”

On the impact the lockdown had on completing his university course, Mr Nicholson said: “We actually got quite a lot of information out of our tutor during the lockdown.

“Our tutor produced so much support in terms of videos and powerpoints as well as the Zooms that it really helped.”

Talking about the impact of the BAME report on himself personally as a member of the BAME community, Mr Nicholson added: “It made me more aware of the situation and I did my best to keep my social distancing with others.”

The report revealed the coronavirus may disproportionately affect Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people.

He said: “That probably added quite a lot to the anxiety, not knowing.”

The lockdown has taken its toll on families across the UK and across the world, affecting mental health, job security, people’s access to welfare and support services and socialising amongst a number of other things.

The effects of the lockdown have not discriminated by age, and amongst those who were the most vulnerable, were the elderly and those with underlying health conditions who were instructed to ‘shield’.

But the lockdown’s impact on the younger generation has also been severe.

Zinnia Bridgman, a college student, who had applied for university just before the lockdown, has been furloughed from her job.

Miss Bridgman, 18, said: “I work behind the bar in a pub and make cocktails for a living and that’s not really something you can do at home so it’s been hard.

“It’s been difficulty definitely but I understand why pubs and restaurants have been shut.

“The day that it was announced that pubs and restaurants were gonna shut I remember I was sitting in the car, we stopped and pulled in somewhere to just have a second to breathe and I just burst into tears because I didn’t know what was gonna happen with my job.

“I didn’t know whether I was gonna lose it or if I was gonna be paid still, I didn’t know anything because nothing had been confirmed.

“At the beginning of lockdown, I was hopeful and not so pessimistic about the future.”

On the impact of not being able to visit her dad, she said: “[It’s] been really difficult, my dad doesn’t live with me, my parents are divorced so he lives about ten miles away.

“My dad is also a carer so he works with very vulnerable people and so because of his job and the nature of everything I haven’t actually been allowed to see my dad and it’s been really hard.”

The uncertainty over the lockdown’s implications on her first year of university has also been difficult.

“I’ve been given a start date for term but I’ve literally been given no information about it. It’s literally just been a bit up in the air like I am going to uni I just don’t know when.

“And I’m still going to be paying for September to June accommodation even though I might not be starting in September.”



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