Student Jessica Tunks shares her lockdown experience

Jess types for us on her laptop

Jessica Tunks is a current student at the City and Islington Sixth Form College. Here she shares her experience of lockdown in the UK so far.

“On 23 March, Boris Johnson made an announcement unlike anything the public had ever heard before. The transition into lockdown was gradual, beginning with reminders about washing our hands, social distancing rules, and people working from home, until eventually we were told we could no longer leave our houses for anything not deemed ‘essential’. Now, the government has announced its plans to begin easing lockdown measures as of 10 May. But what will a world post-lockdown look like? Can we go back to the way things were before? Or has all this time indoors taught us something? It’s definitely taught me a few things.

“I have learnt who the real heroes are. Whilst lockdown has been frustrating, with so many of us bored at home, many of us might eventually look back on the coronavirus outbreak as a period of calm. The same cannot be said for the essential workers that risked their lives everyday to do their jobs. The jobs they had become so used to changed overnight, and came with added risks. It would have been impossible to get through lockdown without refuse collectors, delivery drivers, public transport drivers, postal workers, supermarket servers, teachers supporting vulnerable students and of course the incredible staff in the NHS. The people we needed most were not superheroes, billionaires, or celebrities, they were ordinary, caring people, who stayed at work so we could all stay home. Too many of these people have lost their lives to the virus they were protecting us from, and that is a debt we can’t repay. Healthcare workers (many of whom have been separated from their families) are fighting this virus tirelessly on the frontlines, saying goodbye to more patients, and more colleagues, than they have ever had to before. We should remember their sacrifices, and learn to appreciate them so much more in the future.

“I have learnt to appreciate the people around me so much more. Not only has being apart from everyone for so long shown me how much they really mean to me, but the coronavirus has shown that we can never really know when our last moment with someone will be. I’ve seen countless stories of families losing their loved ones to the virus, having been unable to see or speak to them for weeks. This reminded me that it’s important to let people know they matter to you. Unfortunately, we don’t always get to say goodbye to the ones we love, and though that will always be heartbreaking, it stresses the importance of making the most of every second. So far the coronavirus has claimed 30,615 lives, and this number will continue to increase. But it’s important to remember that these people are not just numbers. The victims of this virus are friends, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Hundreds of thousands of people around the country will be grieving, and they will need to heal. In a time like this, we need each other more than ever, and in order to start recovering, we will all need to reach out to remind people they are loved.

“I have learnt that I am luckier than I ever imagined. Being forced to stay at home, away from friends and family, isn’t pleasant for anyone, but some of us were a lot luckier than others. I have a roof over my head, neither of my parents lost their jobs, I can still access my lessons, and we still have enough food. On top of this, I live in a home free from violence, which wasn’t true for many people around the world. Domestic violence incidents skyrocketed, millions of jobs were lost, thousands of families were left without food, and refugee camps have had to tackle the virus without sufficient shelter, soap, and water. So whilst it’s easy for me to reflect on the positives of lockdown, I can’t do so without acknowledging that for many people, lockdown was always going to be a nightmare. As the world slowly returns to normal, we need to learn from this. The coronavirus outbreak has shown us how vulnerable so many people in this country are, and how we have to support them more. We must ensure that everyone is safe in the future, not just those who can afford to be.

“I have learnt that people still know how to come together. Before the pandemic, the media was prone to portraying a modern world turned cold. People seemed divided, communities seemed fractured, and everyone apparently cared more about their phones than each other. But the heartwarming response so many people have had to the coronavirus outbreak tells us differently. People jumped at the chance to set up mutual aid groups to support the most vulnerable people in their areas, millions are being raised for charity, heroic individuals continue to put in extraordinary efforts to make sure children can eat, and every Thursday at 8pm, the entire country comes together to applaud the NHS for getting us through this. It is evident that we are stronger together, and we cannot forget this sense of unity we have gained. Even as lockdown measures are eased, many vulnerable people will still be living in fear, and need our support. The NHS will still be fighting, and many of the workers will be fighting their own battles with their mental health, as a result of everything they’ve seen. We will get through this, but we will need to keep fighting, keep supporting, and keep loving in order to do so.”

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