Covid-19 Stories Blog


These stories have been kindly shared by children, young people and adults in our community, from personal accounts to the experiences of key-workers. People have described their lives at home, work and and school and shared their feelings, challenges and hopes. At Gladrags we wanted to capture local living history and create this resource for teachers and community / youth workers processing the events of Covid-19 within their schools, community projects and well-being settings.

Our FREE initial collection of 30 stories, written between May and September 2020, is now available in pdf (download copies below) and editable powerpoint verisons (please contact us for a copy).

Covid Wellbeing Resource - primary schools - whiteboard version (pdf)

Covid Wellbeing Resource - primary schools - print version (pdf)

Covid Wellbeing Resource - secondary schools / community projects - whiteboard version (pdf)

Covid Wellbeing Resource - secondary schools / community projects - print version (pdf)

You can take part!

As we continue to live in the age of Coronavirus, we are still inviting people of all ages and all sections of our community to give voice to their experience, so do please share this page freely or download our E-POSTER. For more info and to submit 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

 BEACH PHOTO cropped

"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. My name is Marie-France so you might guess that I am French. I came down with the virus on 12th March  and our lockdown in France came just a couple of days later. I felt like I had flu but with sudden peaks of fever. I was achy and headachy and sleeping most of the time. My husband Nicholas became a first class nurse. He looked after me, propped my pillows, entertained me; he cooked and brought me food, but I had completely lost my sense of taste and smell so I could sense the texture of my meals, but they tasted of nothing. I’ve still not got it fully back and have to add a lot of salt and pepper to my food!

    I am 72 and I don’t do “ill”. But here I was, so weak and unable to walk barely 200 yards. Being usually an active and healthy person I was lucky, I recovered at home – although months later I still have post-covid symptoms and have had to slow my life down, a big change for a busy me.

    Back in March I was eventually well enough to come out for the nightly clap at 8pm for health workers. It’s been so important, starting up on 18th March in council apartment blocks in Paris where people were inspired by the same idea in Italy. A hospital director told us on the television “every night we know, we feel it, that you are thinking of us and you are behind us”. He had teary eyes. It’s one of the ways in which we have been unified in our solidarity. I grew up in the shadow of the Second World War when France was an ‘occupied’ country. You understand danger on your doorstep and being restricted in your movements. I wouldn’t say we are a very disciplined culture in general, but we know from our history that in a crisis limitations are needed. We needed to be told clearly what to do and our politicians acted quickly. They were also humble in the face of the virus and the changing information. So most people trusted them and complied with the strict lockdown.


    And it was strict! From the outset you were only allowed out of your house for essential needs: visiting the doctor, chemist, supermarket, or helping a vulnerable person in need. At first you could exercise up to 1km from your home but that soon stopped too… unless you had an essential outing or to walk your dog. Lucky us that had Minnie the Springer Spaniel to walk every day! You had to get a paper signed by the police called an “Attestation” and giving you permission for each outing; the police came down the street every night, checking that people were staying at home. In more normal times we have a lot of social and political freedom in Europe and it’s good in a way to be reminded it’s not the same everywhere. It felt like curfew time; but it also felt contained and reassuring to me.

    By April we were advised to wear masks and councils had to make sure there was access to masks for everyone who wanted them. In our small area this really brought everyone together. The Mayor put a call out to borrow sewing machines and receive help from those who could sew; 60 people came to the town hall on one day to make free masks, all from donated fabrics. There was a very organised system to collect them from the Town Hall, a mask for each one of us, every resident. I have seen this sense of sharing across Europe too, not in the beginning when we were all needing to look after ourselves, but then France was sending doctors to Italy, experts were coming here from Germany, a solidarity across boarders and a sense that we are all in this together.

    By Marie-France, September 2020

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  2. I went down with what seems very likely to have been Covid 19 on April the 3rd.  My best guess is that I caught it from an old man coughing in a narrow aisle in Sainsburys when I was out buying food. My instinct at the time was to get away from him, his hoarse cough in the confined space frightened me. I don’t know where I got it, so let’s say it was him, someone who should have stayed at home, but needed to go out and get food.

    The timing of my symptoms was poor. I was in the middle of hosting a Chinese medicine lecture on Zoom. The lecturer was in lockdown in New York State thousands of miles away, her family had fled New York where the body count was high. That evening I felt inexplicably tired. My back ached which is unusual for me. Eventually the lecture ended, and I went upstairs to have a bath, to warm and loosen the stiffening muscles of my neck. I felt distant and suddenly cold. The heat from the bath was welcome, but I felt more disorientated, stranger. By the time I had emerged from the bath I realised I had a fever and needed to go to bed. 

    The fear was very hard to deal with. I was by then very well versed in the worst-case scenarios of this disease. I had seen the earliest reports of the pathogen in Wuhan. I watched the Chinese government shut down a city in an attempt to contain it. I knew that this could kill, and I was aware that it could also maim, like SARS which had left many of those who survived it permanently ill.


    The onset of Covid hit me like a truck. I retreated to bed, contacted the woman giving the lecture and asked her advice and of her husband. They are both Chinese doctors, as am I. I used a combination of approaches, the first and most important being to allow the fever as far as was practical. The fever never became dangerously high, so I stayed with my body’s immune responses. Sweat, temperature, these things are there for a reason. The headache was bad, but I could release the pain with my own skills as an acupuncturist. I have no doubt that it could have been worse had I not known some of the things I know. 

    I was delirious for a day. Downstairs the lecture went on without me. I took a recording of it, but was quite unable to listen to it. I spent these hours dreaming black dreams of the virus. It’s difficult to talk about this because it sounds so fanciful. I felt that I saw the interior of it. It was as though I was being given a tour of it, what it was. It wasn’t going to do me much damage because I was fundamentally in good health. But it could. I believe I was privy to its inherent nastiness and deceptiveness, a malevolence, the sense of which has stayed with me. I came away from my brush with it quite profoundly frightened. The feeling I have is that this has surprises in store, and not pleasant ones.

    On the second day the fever calmed and I developed a sore throat. I had no cough, apart from ten minutes wheezing and tightness the day after that. After that the tail end of the fever subsided and I was better. I felt odd and tired for the next five days. I sat quietly in the garden a lot. I was in quarantine and people brought me food and checked in on me. I was aware that something bad had missed me and felt separate from life for some days as I contemplated this and the feelings of echoing trauma to my system, particularly my kidneys. After that my health returned and I felt mostly fine, but I am unsure, as so many are: did I have it? What even is this? How did we as a culture get to this place? And how do we leave?

    By Cal, September 2020

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  3. I haven’t been out and about much. I do my shopping, that’s about it. I’ve been careful but also my back is playing up. I’ve had a bad back for years and usually have bad days and worse days, but now the tablets are giving me the shakes. I’ve called the doctor and he said he’s “thinking about it”. The tablets don’t even work at all for the pain, and it’s not the same talking to the doctor on the phone to get my point across. I don’t like the phone. I’ve got one of these mobile things and I take it with me if I am out, but I can’t be bothered with it much. I’m a face-to-face person.

    Patrick alone

    Jubilee Court, where I live, it’s a sheltered housing place, about 30 flats and most of them are 1-bed flats, so a lot of us live alone. There are some of them that won’t come out, the rabbit hutches I call them. But I like seeing other people and a few of us have been meeting in the shared garden during lockdown.

    Some are getting their shopping delivered because they’re sheltering, they haven’t stepped outside Jubilee Court, and it’s nice for us all to sit and chat in the garden. We were doing it already, we’ve just carried on, but social distanced round the table, catching the sun when it’s out. It’s good to chat, keeps us going, talking to different people; you just go down the garden and who knows who will be there today – it’s a nice surprise!

    All the social things I used to do stopped in lockdown, the Friday Friends Gardening group, Bridge the Gap 50+ social group. The Bevy pub and Gladrags have got Chatterboxes going instead. We just had our first one last week to round off July nicely. The pub cooks us a lunch and the Gladrags people chat with us all… some of us don’t need help with that! I have my own chatterbox at Jubilee Court, my friend who’s come along to this too.

    It was really, really nice to see all these folk who we haven’t seen for a while and see how everyone is doing; I needed Chatterboxes to happen. A new lady, Louisa came along. She’s 92 and walked half a mile from her home to get here. She said she’d been told by the NHS to stay indoors but she has been going across the road to the park every day to feed the birds. She looks really well on it.

    I love gardening and have kept myself busy with it in this strange time. I used to sell flowers years ago when I ran the hardware store with my mum. That’s when my back went though, jumping off the back of the flower lorry, carrying great boxes of flowers. I grow in the greenhouse now. It’s for everyone to use but it’s only me that goes in there now. No-one else seems interested. I’ve grown all sorts and get free seeds in my gardening magazine, “Garden News”. I’ve got a lot of tomatoes on the go just now; some of the others will have them when they’re ripe, I don’t need them all, I just enjoy watching them grow, making them grow. Lockdown has been very still. At least plants are moving on.

    By Patrick, August 2020

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  4. I am a 12 years old girl and my name is Gaia. I live in Italy in Pisa with my sister Apolline who is 8 and my mum. From the second week of lockdown (beginning of March) my school started online lessons. We used Zoom to communicate. I do 10 subjects and each teacher took turns to deliver their lesson. My day started at 9am when my first period teacher would take the register. We had to sit in a quiet place with our school equipment and dress accordingly (we don’t wear uniforms in Italy). I had 3 lessons per day then break for lunch then back for back for 1 hour in the afternoon for homework. This was Monday to Friday every day until lockdown was over. For our final grades we took tests and our teachers kept track of what we were doing on Zoom.

    Gaia, an italian adventureDuring the day we were not allowed out apart from to the nearest shops (no further than 200 metres). Sometimes we would go to my grandparents who live 5 minutes away by bike for a couple of days so that my mum could carry on working. We had to be incredibly careful as there were many police cars roaming around, checking that people were not out without permission. We would leave in the evening with our bikes (me, my sister Apolline and my mum) with the bike lights switched off and a torch. If the police stopped us, they would have fined us 400 Euros each and my mum was very worried about this.

    One night we saw a police car driving in our direction and we started cycling very fast and hid under a railway arch. We were so scared, but we kept giggling. My mum was quite angry, and she said that if the police heard us and fined us, she would take it off our pocket money until it was paid back! They didn’t see or hear us, and we got to my grandparents safely!

    By Gaia, September 2020

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  5. My name is Lolly and I am 10 years old. I have a brother, Frazer who is 8 years old and a baby sister Cece who is one. My mum and dad had to work during lockdown and we stayed with my Nana and Poppy who live downstairs. 

    My Nana did a lot of schoolwork with us which is quite good because she is a teacher. Some of the subjects I was given from school were tricky because I didn’t even know how to do them but Nana taught me them from scratch, she is quite a good teacher!  I am going into year 6 now and I have SATS next year and I do not want to fall behind. I enjoyed studying with my Nana but it was sometimes a bit stressful – learning at home is incredibly stressful!

    It has been quite hard with my dancing, we haven’t been able to dance face to face, or practise our routines on zoom because of the timing and the delay when dancing in our groups. We were meant to go to the Dance World Cup in Italy where we dance against a lot of different countries. We came 3rd last year and we all got medals! There are about 20 children in my group, and I am one of the oldest.

    LollyWe will have missed 6 months of school in September. I went back on two set days for three weeks, but it was quite hard because in our classroom we had no decorations or displays. We had to stand on little dots as you couldn’t really go near anyone or sit with anyone else on your desk and it felt a bit lonely at some times, it wasn’t quite easy to play with people.

    I sing and play guitar, my Granddad does too. For the past six weeks on a Monday night we sang songs in front of 20 people in an Open Mic on zoom. There were no other children and I was the youngest.  Some of the songs we did are ‘I was only joking’ by Rod Stewart and ‘My Girl’ and next week is going to be my favourite. We’re doing a song called ‘Old Man’, it’s a lovely song to sing and Poppy has a lot of memories from it.

    My birthday was really fun. Some of my presents were activities to do, we made cakes and brownies and we made some slime. A group of really close friends pulled up in their cars at the front of our house on the curb and sang the Birthday song which was really sweet. I feel it might have been better than if I had my birthday not in lockdown because every year normally I have the same party, a disco - it’s nice that I did not have the same party this year.

    By Lolly, August 2020

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  6. My name is Senem, I am Turkish and have lived in Germany for many years with my daughter who is now 31. For the last 11 years I ran my own small cafe in Bremen, before that I worked in all sorts of cafes and restaurants, mainly in large hotels, as did my daughter.

    When the Corona crisis began I was terribly worried that I would lose my business and my self confidence took a big knock. I had a hard time in the last few years because other cafes near me had set up, offering lower prices, but very recently they had gone bust. In order to keep going during those difficult years, I had worked full time at my cafe and also part time at a hotel, so at least I had been able to pay all my debts. When the lockdown began, the hotel shut down and I received some money from the job centre.

    As it turned out, at the start of Corona my cafe was the only one still opening in the neighbourhood. School kids and employees of the nearby job centre had been my main customers, the schools closed, but the job centre kept going, though their own cafeteria was shut. So I started a take-away service, asking customers to bring their own containers. I saved money by not having to buy boxes, and less washing up. My employees all had to be sent home but got paid by the job centre. I could earn enough to pay my rent and did not need money to go shopping for fun as the shops were closed anyway.

    SenemThere was no call for breakfast, all I served was lunch and that was great – at last I did not have to get up at 4:30am every day and I was home by 3pm! It was truly a dream come true that I finally had time to spend with my family and my garden. No stress with traffic jams and finding somewhere to park, juggling two jobs. I had worked about 300 hours a month before and always gone out to the theatre, concerts, meeting my friends. Now I was able to have time for myself, to read, to relax, and at last to rest and recuperate. I realised: You don’t need all that action! Sometimes I even watched TV in the afternoon, I had more time for my partner and my daughter became the expert cream-cake baker. 

    In June the cafeteria at the job centre opened again and some students visited my cafe again. I have set up tables and chairs for 1,2 or 3 people at safe distances and everyone has to wear a mask except when they eat. I keep sanitizing everything and nobody can use the toilet. I am not too worried of becoming infected, but I have become careful. We are all wearing masks and keeping our distance, I do not hug anymore.

    It will be difficult now to find jobs in hotels.I have decided to work less and spend less money, go to fewer restaurants and buy fewer expensive items, travel less. I will still go and see a few rock bands but all in all I will become more modest and have less a stressful life.

    By Senem, June 2020

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  7. I work as a Nursery Practitioner at Bevendean Primary school providing free education to children aged 3-4 years.  The school is large, but undersubscribed, allowing us to have classes of up to 30 children. Our awareness of the virus began slowly – first of all being aware of cases in China, then Spain, then France.  Soon we were all aware as a member of staff had had potential contact with the virus and due to a lack of central guidance for managers, the school made the decision to close for 1 day while they waited for advice from public health England at the beginning of March. 

    We reopened briefly in mid-March, before closing as lockdown descended. Like many schools we still were open to children of key workers and vulnerable families. We used our staff ‘snow leads’ system to manage the situation, which was a funny title when we had all the heatwaves! I’ve been really impressed with the level of planning our managers have put in place.

    Brig uprightI’ve seen how differently people react to Covid-19: some people are really cautious and have kept their children out of school, others are not worried, but didn’t want their kids going to school while others were off. As a result, we’ve had as few as 3 children to care for on some days and at most only 7 kids.  I’m looking forward to returning to work in September but am not sure how many kids we’ll have as registrations have been very low so far.

    Personally, I’ve had to reduce my working days and been redeployed across the school. We have a minimum number of staff working with kids, so I’m always working with other colleagues and under lockdown I ended up working with people I’d not regularly worked with before. With my extra time outside of work, I found myself feeling strongly that I needed to do something and reconnect with my community. I was aware of other people working harder and doing longer shifts than they had been before lockdown and I did feel guilty sometimes.

    I considered using my prior nursing experience, but the NHS was inundated with volunteers. So, just 2 days after lockdown I was volunteering for my local pub, The Bevy, helping them deliver their ‘meals on wheels’ to local people who could no longer come to the pub for their community group days. I also helped out at the school with providing free school dinners for kids and collecting food from depots and driving it to outlets. Plus, at home we’ve had the usual ‘open door’ policy for waifs and strays, so I’ve been as busy as usual in different ways.

    I’ve been walking and gardening and there’s been a real holiday-feel during the crisis, despite all the cancelled events in my diary, and I have sometimes felt like I’m treading water and that the situation is unreal and dreamlike. There seemed to be a lot of positive change and possibility coming out of the situation and although I am hopeful, I do feel suspicious about laws and regulations coming in which could affect the bigger picture long term. I do feel that I’ve learnt to be more aware of others' perspectives about how they react to the virus and to be inclusive and not judge. After all, we need to look after each other.

    By Brig, August 2020

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  8. A really big event happened in lockdown. Me and Will, my twin brother, got bikes, with 21 gears to be precise. We had 6 year old bikes and we’re nearly 8 so it’s really, really good now we have bigger bikes to ride. We’re allowed to cycle around 5 of the streets just around our house. I go on a pogo stick a bit sometimes and Adam at the bottom road, he gave me an old 2-wheeled scooter. I go scooting the streets that we’re allowed to go down, and on the Thursday night clapping we go round and round on our bikes, saying hello to everyone. Sometimes we cycle about looking for treasures but so far we’ve only found flowers and stuff like that.

    smashing stonesWhen I wake up we have breakfast and we walk round the block and then come back in to ‘go to school’.  My dad teaches us every day and my mum twice a week as she’s mostly trapped upstairs; she has to do her own homework. She does phone calls and skype – she’s basically an NHS person. We have a ‘times tables’ for lockdown. First it’s Maths time, then English time, break time. Then Arts and Crafts and lunch time of course.

    Sometimes it’s ‘Outdoor Project’ and once we had to hammer down bricks and tiles for a patio. It’s very different to normal school, we would be in a class full of children  but we’re sitting in a kitchen with just two people which can be boring, but it’s kind of nice ‘cause you can go grab a drink when you want and at school you have to wait till break or lunch to do that. 

    In the beginning of lockdown it felt like I was trapped indoors and wasn’t allowed anywhere, but I got used to it. Obviously it’s just different. It’s a really big thing to get to go in the car somewhere, even just a mile. The other day we went in the car to pick something up at Halfords and it was actually really fun. My dad built a balcony for the tree-house and it’s so nice, I go in there every evening. The first friend I saw when we were allowed was Cleo who I’ve known about 6 yrs. There was enough space for us to play in the tree-house together and it was really fun.

    We’ve had so much deliveries and I’ve had my birthday present delivered already! My friend’s birthday was spoilt by lockdown because she was going to have a treasure hunt and none of us could go, sad times. But I am going shopping on my Birthday and I think it’s quite nice that Boris Johnson is letting us go to the shops.


    I sometimes get a bit fed up with my family    - I see the same people every single day - and I go in my tree-house. Will likes to say it’s ‘his’ tree-house too but he never goes in there. My parents are never in it so then finally I can be by myself. I make potions sometimes and it’s peaceful, except for noisy people passing by on the street but I say hello and chat a bit with the ones I know, like Daisy, and Janet from across the road.

    By Iona, age 7 yrs, July 2020

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  9. Lockdown feels stupid. You can barely spend any time with friends and they’re not allowed in your house. Next Monday is the 6th July and I’ll be inviting someone round to play Minecraft with me. I like it because it’s quite creational and I can build things. Sometimes I’m just thinking about what I can build next. In the beginning of lock-down I went to the park and did a bit of biking or we played football as a family, but sometimes, when Iona, my twin sister, doesn’t want someone to have the ball, she just lies on top of it and I have to kick it out from under her!

    I really like football and play in the garden. We helped our dad make a patio here and it’s good for playing football because it’s quite flat. I practise skateboarding on it too, up and down, up and down. We helped by flattening the rubble out and spreading it all around so my dad could put slabs on it. It was a long job and I enjoyed helping but sometimes it got a bit boring so me and Iona started doing challenges like “biggest pile smashed down is a winner” and we even made pretend things out of the rubble as a game.

    smashing stones

    Recently I’ve been able to play a lot with my friends at the park. But football with friends, how do you social distance in that?! I would usually tackle because that’s my style. My dad always says “try to pass and shoot” and we mostly stay apart from each other but not always. One time I scored such a goal, I didn’t even expect it at all and it went right in – and my friend Louis, he swung me round like anything. He just doesn’t understand social distancing. A lot of people run around like lock-down isn’t a thing, like it’s a legend. I think it’s ok though ‘cause it’s near to the end of it. Schoolchildren are going back to school so they’re already learning and mixing.

     I don’t like going to school at home ‘cause I like my proper teacher. Dad pushes us quite hard and mum is just so relaxed. My real teacher has done 2 videos though. Because I’ve finished all my maths sheet she said I’ll get a charter star when we get back to school so I was pleased. I’ve done a bit of skype video with my friends but I kind of don’t like it – seeing your friend but on a screen, like your friend turns out to be a computer.I’m looking forward to going back to school, I’ll be able to see my friends for real, every day.

    Boy on bike

    I quite like going on walks and it’s been good now that I can go with a friend.  Mum loves to walk and I take my bike quite a lot. Iona and I both got new bikes in lockdown. My friend Louis loves the steep hill but I love it more, I like going on really fast stuff; when I’m coming down the hill like that it feels like I’m flying.

    One of our gerbils, Brownie, has died in lockdown. We were watching a programme about people escaping from their homes, and then we found her. I felt sad and wondered if she got a gerbil virus. I carried her to the grave and we planted a sunflower over her because gerbils like sunflower seeds and Brownie liked them very much.

    By Will, age 7 yrs, July 2020

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  10. I work as a GP in a small rural surgery. Our area has been relatively unaffected by the Covid illness – we have had less than 10 confirmed cases in our patient population of just over 5000 people and all of those cases have had only minor symptoms (and came from the local hospital). It has been extraordinary to see and read about the situation in other areas of the country and the devastating effect that the illness has had on care home communities.

    SurgeryMy job involves the diagnosis and management of health conditions. In comparison to so many people who have been furloughed, or worse, my working life has continued as normal, however the substance of my working day has changed immeasurably. Faced with the challenge of looking after those people in society with the most fragile health without increasing their risk of catching a potentially fatal infection, my practice rapidly switched to different patterns of working and means of communication.

    Previously, our working day was based on seeing 30 people, face-to-face, with booked appointments. Overnight, we stopped these to avoid direct contact where possible and reduce the risks of transmitting the disease. We started using telephone calls, text messages, emails and video consultations to look after our patients. These options have existed for the last 10 years, but we have always been too busy to contemplate a change that would be so disruptive to our staff and patients. Our patients have been extremely understanding and it is testament to their resilience that there have been no complaints.

    Despite these changes, I think that we would still be at risk of being overwhelmed if there were high levels of Covid infection in our area. My colleagues and I can see on the news what happens to health services in areas of high Covid infection, but what we have not seen and cannot predict is what happens to the general health of an area when, overnight, GPs change how they work and potentially sick people try to avoid contact with everyone, including their doctors. How many cancers may have been missed, or high blood pressures, which might lead to heart attacks or strokes?

    Early on in the crisis, I watched a video from a thoughtful and impressive GP, who was working at a Covid assessment unit in London. He described assessing patients with suspected Coronavirus and working out whether they needed to be admitted to hospital or not. What struck me the most was the advice to counsel the patients being admitted to ‘say goodbye’ to their families, since they would not be allowed visitors in the hospital and might never see them again. I cannot forget this.

    IMG-20200910-WA0002These situations were not exclusive to people infected with the virus. Hospitals and care homes shut their doors to all visitors in order to reduce the risk of infection. With hospitals representing separation from loved ones as well as the most likely place to catch the disease, I have had many conversations with people who are unwell and in other circumstances would definitely be requiring admission to hospital, but who chose to remain at home to avoid Coronavirus.

    Going forward, I suspect that my job will not be the same again. The over-worn phrase ‘the new normal’ has truth and I am hard pushed to think of an aspect of my working or home life that will not have be affected by the pandemic. My hope is that this can provide an opportunity to improve systems and beliefs that have continued for many years ‘just because’. Fingers crossed.

    By David, June 2020

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