One year after the first lockdown in March 2020, we have become quite used to our ‘new normal’. Everyone in Britain has had different experiences, and in Orkney, we have been particularly lucky to have had a limited number of cases and very few deaths.
I wanted to find out how people from different age groups experienced the last year differently, by comparing the experience of Freya, a school pupil, to that of Caroline, an adult working in a care setting.
Caroline said, “When we went into lockdown, I was working at Smiddybrae Care Home. I was very scared of taking it into the home where vulnerable people live. We had very strict guidelines to follow but it was difficult to work and keep two metres away from other people.”
“I changed jobs during lockdown and my new jobs meant I was able to work from home. I was happy about this as I felt safe and that I was keeping my family safe. In my new job I haven’t known anything other than working from home. Technology has really helped, and we have kept in regular contact via Zoom and Teams.”
Despite having a key-worker position, Caroline seems to have been able to avoid catching COVID: “I don’t think I have had it as I have not had any of the symptoms. Nobody I know has had it that they are sure about. I mean no-one has had a positive test.”
It was interesting to hear from someone who had experienced COVID. Freya said that “I unfortunately did have COVID, well me and my parents. We contracted it in January, we were all fine, but we were very tired and lost taste and smell.“ When I asked Freya if the pandemic had changed her, she replied “Yes, I have definitely changed, as I’m now far more aware of things like sanitising, cleaning, social distancing and mask wearing.” This not surprising considering her experience.
Both interviewees agreed when asked if they noticed a difference between the summer and winter lockdowns. Both enjoyed the summer lockdown and being able to enjoy the good weather. Caroline said, “I enjoyed the summer better as I could go walks with the dogs and meet friends in their gardens.” Freya also enjoyed the summer “I did find summer lockdown better as I always feel happier and more positive when the day light is longer, and I could go for walks and things like that even though winter lockdown wasn’t maybe as stressful as we were more used to the situation.”
Although both having very different experiences Caroline and Freya both felt positively about the vaccination programme and living in Orkney. Caroline said “this lock down has really made us Orcadians appreciate how lucky we are.” In agreement was Freya: “I am very glad we live here as for me personally it made me feel more positive and happier. I also managed to go lots of walks as where I live I would meet no one on my walk.”
Some of the difference I noticed was that Caroline was more scared at the start as she could have brought it into her workplace. Freya found it hard in the summer, not allowed to be close and going inside but Caroline found it not so bad as she isn’t a cuddly person. Both felt very lucky to be in Orkney as they have realised how much more space we have and how lucky we are.