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UK Lockdown…a year on

I wrote this blog post a year ago, after the UK went on the first national lockdown.

I had just celebrated my birthday a month earlier, having enjoyed a beautiful celebration with family and friends in West Africa. I couldn’t believe that so much could change in just a matter of weeks.

My first shock was shortly after arrival when I turned up to my local Tesco supermarket to find empty shelves! No toilet roll, no pasta, no staples! Not even my favourite basic moisturiser – Johnson’s baby oil!

Then at work, I found myself on the ‘COVID taskforce’, like many HR colleagues, helping my organisation with business continuity, writing various guides, advising people on what to do in terms of remote working etc.

The word of the moment was ‘Unprecedented’, so I felt the title of my blog was fitting.

Being a half-full person, even amidst that turbulence and fear, I started to imagine what the positives arising from the crisis might be. I never thought it would last this long though.

A year on, it is interesting to see that the observations I made so early on went on the shape the year:

  • The earth has paused. This is a time to reflect, let the earth heal itself. Reports have already confirmed that pollution is down so at least the environment will benefit somewhat. Earth did pause.
  • Families being at home can be stressful but some people are already learning how to bond with one another. I played board games with my sons for the first time in a long time. Some lived and thrived, others didn’t.
  • The scarcity of food means we are having to be resourceful when preparing meals and this will reduce food waste. Banana bread anyone? Sourdough bread?
  • We will save money from buying items we don’t really need, as the lockdown has forced non-essential shops to shut up shop for now; some sites have crashed and next day deliveries have stalled, including Amazon Prime. In addition to this, some non-essential items are sold out in most places, a welcome sight for our bank accounts. The Bank of England says there are billions ready to be spent from savings.
  • Kindness – humanity has kicked in. People are appreciating our key workers and pulling together to help one another, checking on our elderly neighbours etc. Community spirit is back. Everyone should remember that people will never forget how you treat them especially in times of crisis. It became OK for your child or pet to appear on your Zoom meeting. Being human became a thing.
  • Some people are using the time to read, learn, catch up on all those things on our to-do list, even cleaning out the kitchen cupboards/garage/loft/do some gardening. Lots of lockdown hobbies were taken up.
  • There is plenty of information online with guides for everything from remote working to various courses to fitness videos on YouTube (I have started doing online yoga) so there is enough to keep us busy. Most of us have heard of Joe Wicks, gyms took their classes online, I did more research online.

There is still a lot of uncertainty and we are still not out of the woods yet. However, for those of us still here, we can live in hope and we can be grateful that we are still alive.

To quote Amanda Gorman “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.”