Our youth ambassador Myles has wrote a blog on his personal experience of life in lockdown as a vulnerable young person. He also done a survey on families with children and young people with complex needs to see how they are feeling during lockdown. His blog and survey are below:-
On Monday 23rd March 2020, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK announced that our country is in lockdown. Before this, vulnerable individuals were instructed to self-isolate to protect themselves from COVID-19, I am currently on week 9 of being isolated from the world, only having physical contact with my parents, who are also isolating as they are my carers.
I am wanting to share with you how I am feeling about being in lockdown and the difficulties we are facing in these troubling times.
I posted a few questions on social media to find out how the rest of the world is coping with the situation and I will be incorporating the answers I received into this document.
My first question was ‘How are you feeling about being in isolation?’
I got a lot of varied answers for this question ranging from feeling safe at home to being anxious, nervous and frightened.
I personally feel pretty good in isolation, this is because I feel safe in my house where no one else comes near me and I cannot catch the virus from others as my parents do not leave the house either. I do feel sad that I can’t see my family such as my sister and my grandparents, even though I do video call them and I get to see my sister through a window when she drops off our essential supplies. By asking this question I have found out that there is no ‘right way’ to feel or deal with the current situation, whatever you’re feeling is absolutely fine. Everyone deals with things in their own way.
My next question was ‘What has been your favourite thing to do during lockdown?’
I was very happy to read the answers for this question as most people said they had been baking, making crafts, participating in quizzes, clapping for the NHS on a Thursday at 8pm and doing daily challenges such as the Strongbones Children’s Charitable Trust daily challenge. Families are spending time together which has been more enjoyable than sitting infront of ipads, TVs, phones and tablets. Which I understand people are doing, but it hasn’t been their favourite thing to do.
I have really enjoyed being able to have lots of time outside in my garden and spend time watching my chickens in their pen. I am extremely fortunate as I have a large private garden that I am able to access in my wheelchair. I can enjoy my surroundings, getting fresh air and being in the sunshine whilst still being safe outdoors. Some individuals do not have a garden or only have a small garden that is close to their adjoining neighbours that they cannot enjoy due to lack of distance. These people have been told to ‘open a window’ as their form of fresh air, how is that even the same as going outside and sitting in the sunshine?! Others live in accommodation such as flats where they do not have any garden or outside facilities. I really feel for these people, especially individuals who are in similar circumstances to myself; extremely vulnerable with no immune system to fight off the virus if we were to catch it.
I was interested to find out if people had been trying to make things that they wouldn’t usually attempt. Most people that answered said they had tried making or cooking something different from scratch. This really intrigued me as you don’t usually have the ingredients to make different foods that you don’t normally make so you would have to be getting the additional food on your essentials shopping. I understand that in these troubling times, it is so difficult to get ingredients for baking, such as flour, so it must take people ages to get the ingredients they need just to make something different. Before the lockdown, we could just nip to the local shop and pick up what we needed, now we have to wait for our online shop to be delivered before we realise that the additional baking items we purchased were out of stock, again.
I tried something different, I helped my Mum to make a lemon cake. We are very lucky; I have a sister who lives close to me that is able to do our essential shopping if the things we need did not come on our food delivery, so she dropped us off the ingredients we needed to make the lemon cake and waved at me through the window. I’ve never made one before, I helped to mix all the ingredients together with a spoon before Mum put it into the oven to bake. I tried the cake once it was baked and it was great and tasted lovely, I would recommend trying to bake a lemon cake, it was pretty easy to make and very easy to eat!
Relating to the last question, I wanted to know if anyone ‘had done anything different to what they would in their ‘normal’ life’. I haven’t tried any new foods or drinks but I have tried lots of new crafts and watched my parents do new things. My Mum and I do all the Strongbones daily challenges, my Dad built me a pirate ship and Mum is currently in the process of painting a wishing well. We made bunting and decorations to put up in and around the house for VE (Victory in Europe) Day on Friday 8th June 2020 to celebrate the 75th anniversary. I have also tried using a new app called ‘Zoom’, I held a conference call with Team Strongbones to see how to use it. In addition, I have changed my learning pathway to distance learning, so I am using the app ‘Skype’ to communicate with my 1:1 so I can continue my learning during lockdown.
When I asked the question on social media, if anyone had done anything different, I got lots of replies relating to online shopping, which we as a family are having to do also. People have said they find it very frustrating as they are unable to get a delivery slot, some items are unavailable and it just isn’t as simple as it should be. I do not like online shopping as I much prefer to wander around the supermarket to see what I fancy and what is on offer, but due to lockdown, we’re not able to leave the house so online shopping it is.
Other replies to this question include donating items to hospitals, baking new recipes, arts and crafts, learning a new skill such as playing the ukulele and walking dogs from a local shelter. These things make me really happy as people are experimenting and helping others.
The next question I was very interested to find out what people were doing was ‘Have you tried to make the most out of the opportunity?’ Nearly everyone that replied said yes. The majority of answers told me that people were using the time at home to redecorate, clear out their cupboards and wardrobes and tidy up the garden. We have also done this, my Mum has been through all the kitchen cupboards and got rid of anything old or that we don’t need/ want and cleaned inside each cupboard. Mum and Dad have also repainted the kitchen, the hallway, the workshop building outside and the barn doors. We have been making the most out of the nice sunshine (while it lasted) by being in the garden and doing a bit of general cleaning and tidying. My power washed the patio and my rebound trampoline and Dad mowed the lawn and cut the hedges.
We also sorted out my brochure bags. For those of you that know me, will know that I love collecting brochures from everywhere and I keep them all together in plastic bags. I have sorted through my bags, recycling the ripped/ tatty brochures and the ones I don’t want to keep and kept the ones out that I wanted to look at. This was quite a big job as I have A LOT of brochures from all over the world!
I wanted to know ‘what will be the first thing you do once the restrictions are lifted?’ So I put this question to social media to see if my thoughts were the same as everyone else’s, and to no surprise, every comment I received said that people would go and visit their family and friends as soon as they are able to. In addition to this answer, a few people said they would like to travel to places such as the seaside and the woods. When I was thinking about what I would like to do, I came up with a list of places I’d wanted to visit. I have been making this list with Mum and writing all the places down I’d love to travel to and see / experience, so here it is… my VERY long list of places to visit…
Obviously the very first thing I will do is go to see my Mamma and Grandad and sister, Lauren. The very first place I want to travel to is Liverpool. I have really missed seeing my special friends and cannot wait to give them a big squeeze.
We are very much a family that enjoy travelling and going to new places, so this restriction has been hard on us. We are not able to just jump in the car and go somewhere. I think a lot of other families will be feeling the same, this can have a huge impact on people’s mental health. A lot of people rely on getting out the house and being somewhere different, as I mentioned earlier, I have not left my house/ garden/ driveway for 9 weeks now and I am really feeling the need to get out somewhere different.
The last question I wanted to know, kind of related to the previous question, I wanted to know, ‘who are you most looking forward to giving a big hug?’ The majority of answers were parents, grandparents and siblings. Other answers said friends and family and anyone who needs one! I am looking forward to giving my grandparents and sister a hug, but the person I’m most looking forwards to sharing a cuddle with is Hayley Smallman (and Gary and Ruby!) They recently lost their beautiful daughter, who was my best friend. I have really struggled with not being able to see Hayley, Gary, Josh and Ruby in person, or attend Holly’s funeral. I have chatted with them on the phone quite a lot but it just isn’t the same. As soon as I am able to, I will be in my car, flying up the country to go and see them in Liverpool.
I feel very fortunate that I am able to use my phone and iPad to communicate with others outside my house. Some people do not have this ability, which can be very lonely and frustrating. This situation has showed me the importance of technology and apps such as ‘Zoom’, ‘Facetime’ and ‘Skype’. This is so people can still connect visually with the people they know and love. I think it has been hard on individuals that are older or not so tech-savvy. They may not be able to use technology like a younger generation can to see their family and friends.
I think it has been quite eye-opening how much we rely on other people, such as our family but also people that are complete strangers to us. Individuals that continue working to keep our country running during such troubling times, really are amazing. People who deliver things, keep our supermarkets open, care for others, empty our bins, make emergency repairs, teach our children, keep us safe such as our NHS, police force, fire service, armed forces, paramedics and pharmacists, these are all essential/ key workers and we owe them a massive thank you!
But, as time goes on, what’s next?!
As a family, we’ve cleaned the house again and again, redecorated, the garden is sorted (multiple times), we’ve baked lots of new and different things, enjoyed time in the garden and made lots of crafts and arty bits. But what do we do now to keep us occupied? I know there are a lot of people that are less fortunate that cannot afford ‘luxury’ items such as craft things or baking bits and supplies at home are running out and we cannot access the shops to pick up more things that aren’t necessities. So where do we go from here? This is a question that really bothers me, not knowing how long we will be in isolation for is something that I personally really struggle to understand as I need to know what is happening next and what is to come. I understand that our Government is trying to do the best thing for our country to minimise how many people are taken from their loved ones and affected by this horrible virus, but the not knowing is what’s hardest for me, personally.
In such uncertain times, we rely on each other for support; physically, emotionally and mentally. I would like to finish this blog by saying, “It’s ok!”
Whatever you are feeling and doing is ok, there is no correct way to deal with uncertainty and YOU ARE DOING AMAZING!
Remember, this will come to an end, and we will survive!