Covid-19 Stories Blog

COVID-19 COMMUNITY STORIES

These stories have been kindly shared by ordinary people in our and your community. They form part of our resources for teachers and community / youth workers seeking to process the events of Covid-19 within their schools, community projects and well-being settings. We are inviting written or oral contributions from people of all ages and all sections of our community so do please share this page freely or download our E-POSTER. For more info and to give a voice to your story please download one of the following forms:

       Worker perspective        Personal perspective        Child Perspective

For detailed questions that help with putting a story together, either your own, or those of people you are working with / interviewing, please download one of the following sheets. They can be edited to suit your specific purpose.

Questions - worker       Questions - adult / young person       Questions - child / young person

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"As a Primary Deputy Head I am keen to source real accounts of different people’s experiences of life since lockdown due to the coronavirus. It is vital for pupils to hear about these experiences to support their understanding of how others have and are coping and to develop empathy with different people."

Nigel Watson, Coldean Primary School, Brighton 

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Thank you to East Brighton Trust for funding this project.

 Some names and places have been altered to protect identities.

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  1. Tesco 2 mtrs sign

    I'm Lucy, I work at Tesco’s in the checkout assistance, ‘scan as you shop’. It was really hard in the beginning, back in the middle of March, before the pandemic even hit us, while everything you saw on the news was actually happening at our store: from customers queuing at 5:30 in the morning to panic-buying of toilet rolls and hand sanitiser.

    I saw people become selfish, I saw them in a different light, some even grabbing shopping out of other people’s baskets. Customers became scared that they couldn’t get what they needed; on one day we counted 650 customers in the store at the same time! We’d open the doors and the queue would ram in.
    I thought “if this is what it’s like here in our small and cosy town, how are people coping in big cities?” My cat lived on very posh cat food for a while as that was all that was left!

    My family life was hard too as I was the only one leaving the house to go to work. I felt scared of the pandemic and very unsure about what was going to happen next. The atmosphere at work with so many angry customers could feel threatening and my family found it very hard seeing me upset when I came home from work, crying. But they always managed to pick me up with a hug and a smile. Thankfully I have a wonderful friendship with my work colleagues and we call each other our second family.

    One day an elderly gentleman came into Tesco for some bananas and paracetamol. He was about to leave with nothing so I went over to him to ask if he was ok and he explained that he couldn’t get his two items. So the following day I started early and managed to get his bananas and gave him some paracetamol that I had at home. I didn’t tell him that they were mine. He was so appreciative, he cried and I welled up, but these were happy tears.

    By April things started to improve, people started to come together. My job changed a lot due to measures that have been put in to place to protect staff and the public. We can be put anywhere from being outside making sure the queue is working and customers are staying a safe distance apart to counting customers in and out as we are only allowed 80 in the store at a time. It used to be a case of ‘the customer is always right, always comes first’. We’ve all had to adapt to being in control of how customers shop here to ensure we can keep social distancing for both them and us while also making sure they have had a good and safe experience while shopping. 

    keyring

    And now, so much positive has come out of this for us working in Tesco. Most, if not all the customers are lovely. We have had cards, chocolates and gifts and they always say thank you and appreciate what we do which, sadly, previous to the pandemic, was not always the case. A lovely regular customer made us key rings. They are made of wood and shaped like a shopping basket which is engraved with:

    “Thank you for your service, you are heroes too”.


    I feel like suddenly a whole world of people like us, people who are in so-called ‘lower skilled’ jobs are being properly appreciated for what we do!

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  2. school shirt slim

    The week beginning the 16th March was probably (hopefully) the weirdest of my teaching career. It began with the all students in. As the week progressed the year groups gradually ebbed away, until we ended up saying goodbye to our Year 11s with sweets, photos, speeches and giggles in the main hall.

    They had signed shirts, asked teachers to write messages in their books, clutched exercise and text-books, hugged (any attempt at social distancing was completely futile), and walked around their school for the last time as students. The mood was euphoric and tinged with sadness. 

    To add to the surreal nature of proceedings I was celebrating my 50th birthday that day and they all sang happy birthday to a red faced me. A year group robbed of the satisfaction of completing an exam, robbed of a Prom, robbed them of the delight and relief of their last exam. 

    I didn’t return for 8 weeks. Never before have I had such a long break from education as a teacher. When I returned it was to supervise 8 delightful students, children of care workers, GPs and nurses who by then “knew the drill”. They sat at computers and worked on their home learning that had been set by teachers - while I attempted to give assistance and not get within 2 metres of them. Tricky. Mostly they showed just how resilient, good humoured and self-sufficient they had become.

    One day we were left with just two students by 12.30. We decamped to an office where we worked socially distanced at computers. One boy, aged 11, had arrived that morning hood up, in a foul mood. He was now chatting easily with the girl from year 10 but he was bored without his friends or the focus of a proper lesson. I said: “Do you want to go outside and run around a bit?” Watching from the hard-court area where I sat with a cup of tea, I’d see him doing sit ups and planks. It truly was a case of showing initiative and self-coaching. I could almost hear him telling himself “right now, three-minute plank” or “ok, twenty sit ups.” It was a memory I will cherish. 

    Working from home has been very strange. My bread and butter, my normal days, are full of interactions as a drama teacher and form tutor and suddenly it’s me and a laptop, answering e-mails from anxious staff, formulating grades for GCSE, participating in virtual meetings, learning a new language (Zoom, furlough, Teams, socially distancing), planning online work, checking and marking submissions.

    No rehearsals, no drama club, no theatre trips or art exhibitions. But lots of ideas for an online exhibition and sharing some of the fabulous work I’ve been sent, including a skilfully edited duologue by two girls filmed in their separate homes. I’ve been posting a challenge and a #thingstomakeyousmile photo on our arts Instagram post every day since the start of lockdown. I’ve been watching theatre online, reading plays, and longing to see my students face to face again. 

    Whatever else comes out of this for the students, they will have tapped reserves of patience, creativity, and determination unknown to them previously. They will also have experienced boredom, frustration and loneliness. There is absolutely no doubt that this generation, whether they are 2, 12 or 22, are going to need our support, love and care in the years to come. 

    Helene, Drama teacher and Arts Faculty Leader

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  3. Until the lock down I was the busiest woman, everyone always said, if you want some help, ask a busy person. Well, it seems I was one of those. I have two jobs and do a lot of volunteering as well. Too much to do, no time to rest. Now I am resting a lot. The store where I work is shut.

    We are quite a physical group of people at the store and often hug. While we were still open but sanitising all surfaces we touched, I wanted to hug someone. I said to her, can I just give you a backwards hip bump instead? She said yes, and we bumped. Later I found out it was her birthday, so I had given her a birthday bump at least. I miss my colleagues and the fabulous work atmosphere we have. It is inspiring and healthy to see friendly people every day.

    My other job as writer and director of shows also came to a halt. All theatres are closed, no rehearsals are happening, all shows are cancelled. Because I was so worried about the virus to begin with I did not feel creative at all. You’d think this would be the ideal time to write, but for me it was difficult. Then I was inspired to write haiku, which are very short and very precisely timed Japanese poems, and that helped me get started again:

     

    magpie

     

      

    One single magpie
    The spring of fear and sorrow
    Alone in the park
     

     

     

    It has been a great challenge for me to concentrate on anything work related. Luckily I read that other people were struggling with similar problems.

    I have been very frightened of this virus because members of my grandparents’ families died from the Spanish Flu in 1918. My grandmother remembered it well, and in my family people did not hug because it was considered contagious to do so. My default setting has been for years that I always have a stash of tins and pasta etc. hidden away in my cupboard. This mania to be provided for any catastrophe comes from my grandmother who had been a refugee at the end of the Second Word War and ended up with nothing but what she and her three kids had been able to carry. No food, no plates, no soap. She had and I always have a good stash of soap.

    What I keep telling myself is that I am one of the lucky ones; so far nobody I love has become ill. I have been spending a lot of time with my family, walking, talking, sharing meals, being kind and lovely to each other.

    In the park walking the dog one day with my daughter who is 19 and lovely, we chatted to a young man. This was about 4 weeks into the lockdown. His name was Jason, he was in his late 20s and a nurse at the Covid Ward in Brighton. He told us that he lived alone and his birthday was coming up, that he had been working long shifts non-stop, that nobody cooked or shopped for him. He told us that he missed his mum who lived further away. I think of him every day and hope he is safe and coping. I look for him in the park each time we go, but have not met him again. He said: “Don’t get it, it’s nasty.”

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  4. As retired and “aged” local residents of 80 and 76 we would just like to say a little about our life since the Virus. From the start of lockdown we kept to the Stay Home rule without fail. We both like listening to music of all types and the repeats of comedy on the radio.My husband misses Sport on TV but we are fortunate to have a large garden and so we have been able to work in it as exercise and recreation.

    Jacque and Brian - photo

    The weather has been kind and so there have been only a few days when we did not want to be outside. As we have a pavement outside our fence that leads to the Downs we have been able to chat with people about their ways of dealing with the current situation. Thus,although in isolation,we are fortunate to be in touch with others,social distancing, of course.

    The local people formed groups to offer their help and mobile phone numbers that we can contact for errandsand fortunately very early in the crisis I had an email from Waitrose offering me, as a valued and vulnerable person, the opportunity to order my shopping on line.I had not shopped on line before but within minutesI became an “on-line shopper” and have had a delivery every week. This has pleased me as I can feel independent,not dependent on others who are helping so many.When my delivery arrives I am extremely cautious to wash all packaging and remove bags and containers. My shopping habits have been changed forever and I have since obtained other household itemsonlinefor the home.We also have regular deliveries from the local butchers.

    As we are both from large families we have had lots of phone calls to keep in touch and we make sure we call and check friends and family.We both had our childhood during and just after the war. The problem then was not how to access food but to actually be able to obtain it because of greatshortages and indeed rationing. Parents could only get their food allowance using Ration Books. The Toilet roll crisis amuses us as wegrew up having squares of newspaper strung onto a skewer as the standard !!!!

    We feel sorry for the school children but feel there have been some good lessons learned for some by being at home and taking part in domestic routines, including our grandchildren.We miss themterribly, no cuddles or hugs, but technology allows us to keep in touchas much as we want to. When we grew up we did not have the joy of having a phone and contact was by letter writing, so conversation and arrangements took quite a while.

    Until 18th May we stayed locked in but then we went fora walk in the field behind us.It was interesting to see how Nature was thriving and hadchanged since before the Virus. On the 26th of May we took our first steps on the pavements around the streets nearby and observed the changes in other people’s gardens.Life has changed for us but we feel that if we observe the rules weare doing the best we can for all including of course our dedicated NHS.

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