• Ruth Towell

Lockdown Reflections - Chantelle

As we are standing on the turning point of the lockdown being eased in the UK, I decided to embark on a new portrait project. Capturing this moment in time, with reflections from individuals about this season and thoughts about how a post-lockdown world might look.

Each portrait is a window into an individual's life, shot through the window of their home capturing the invisible separation that lockdown brings.

This is Chantelle, have a read of her story:

"My husband & I were both identified as key workers, and have been working full time throughout. We have a 2 year old son and as key workers, he was eligible for childcare, so we had a dilemma about whether we keep him in or not. We talked it over, and decided to allow him stay with his childminder who we trusted, as he was in a much smaller setting, taking all necessary precautions.

I work as a Children’s Social Care Practitioner for Peterborough City Council. The role is similar to a social worker, in that I am responsible for ensuring the safeguarding of vulnerable children and their families.

When lockdown was announced I was only a few months into my role, so initially, I was nervous about whether my job was going to be secure. However, with schools and nurseries suddenly closing, my role was more important than ever. Children were suddenly hidden away at home; away from their routines and safe place. Sometimes children didn’t feel safe at home.

While we could do our paperwork at home, I still had to do home visits, to ensure the safety of our children and young people.

I became sick with worry about how I could do home visits safely - would there enough PPE?

Would I bring the virus back to my husband and son?

Thankfully, my work have been amazing at keeping us informed and providing equipment in order for us to do our jobs as safely as possible.

With the office being closed, our dining room became our ‘office’. The first couple of weeks were really tough, my husband and I realised we weren’t the best colleagues! It felt like a never ending stream of tea and food was coming my way; while a lot of people would probably think that was amazing, I was finding myself unable to fit into my clothes!

We’ve had to find different ways to help us to keep our son entertained and switch off from work. Knowing the importance and having exercise and fresh air, we decided to renovate our awful and very hazardous garden during the weekends. We had the most basic tools and it was a lot of hard work, but it has been so worth it to see our son play and have fun in it.

The amazing weather has meant we have been able enjoy a safe outdoor space at home, for the first time in years.

I come from a large Jamaican family of 6 siblings (plus our children) and we often see each other at my parents’ home for dinner most Sundays. With both my parents being high risk, we had to stay away to keep them protected. We found zoom really helpful and sometimes had Sunday dinner, and even birthday celebrations together via video.

I hope everyone will continue to become more tolerant and understanding of each other’s journeys. There has also been an emerging comradeship and renewed spirit for change, which I hope extends beyond lockdown."

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© 2020 Ruth Towell