During this week’s Generate Voices Forum meeting, the group reflected the year’s events and the impact of the lockdowns. The lockdowns have been a life-changing experience that none of us could have expected. Within the forum, members individually shared their own experiences, the good and the bad, of lockdown with the group. Whilst lockdown has been difficult to adapt to, the group reminisced on the opportunities that lockdown has given them, not only to learn new skills, but to pick up new hobbies.
It was a common feature in the group that members found the first lockdown much more difficult than the second. Tony shared how he shortly after the first lockdown he was put on furlough, a decision that disrupted his daily routine and left him feeling like, “I was living in a limbo”. Tony was not the only member who felt like this. Michelle also commented how she felt during the first lockdown there was little warning, stating how “it was done. That’s it, you’re in lockdown”.
Similarly to other members in the group, Michelle was asked to shield. Michelle shared how she struggled with the reduction in her personal freedom, finding it hard to venture outside without the support from her Support Worker. Not only were her freedoms limited due to the lockdown, but Michelle explained how most of her daily routine was changed; as well as having to shield, she also had to change her 1:1 support, had trouble going to the shops, and had to switch everything to online.
Whilst the two lockdowns have undeniably disrupted the lives of the Generate members, the group also reflected on the positives that have come about as a result of the lockdown, such as the opportunity to learn new skills. Tony shared how the lockdown has made him appreciate the little things, such as going for long walks, exploring his local area and going to places he has never been before. Terry agreed that he also found satisfaction in daily tasks, such going shopping and walking his dog. Moreover, Terry said the lockdown had allowed him to focus more on his passion for trains, giving him more time to watch documentaries.
All members of the Generate Voices Forum also said how the lockdown had made them become experts on Zoom, switching all their social activities to online equivalents. The group also expressed their appreciation for the Social Opps activities provided by Generate. Tony and Ernest shared their new enjoyment of yoga and meditation, which they participate in once a week. Escala also shared how he enjoyed getting involved with the weekly choir sessions. Terry shared how enjoyed being involved with Generate’s project, ‘Surviving through Story’. Whilst the lockdown has been a disruption, all the members agreed how they have created their own new routines, inside and outside of the activities provided by Generate.
Within the group there was a consensus that everyone agreed that lockdown was a necessary part of overcoming the virus. Whilst the group expressed that this lockdown had been much easier to adapt to and normalize, everyone expressed a desire for the end of the lockdown, with Terry stating that “it can’t go on forever”. When asked what members thought about the government’s response, most members felt happy with the current situation. However, many felt the initial lockdown response was too slow, miscommunicated and confusing. There was a big sense of frustration within the group, with many members disliking the stop-start nature of the lockdowns. Michelle commented how she felt the government could have improved their response by extending the lockdown in November over Christmas, to stop the increase in infections that occurred in January.
2020 will be remembered by most people as the ‘year of lockdown’. Despite the disruption that the lockdown has caused in the members lives, the past year has shown the resilience of Generate members to work through these huge changes and grow from them. The lockdown may have significantly changed people with learning disabilities’ lives, but they have shown their ability to adapt and used it as an opportunity to learn new skills. In the group there are still concerns about the virus and any new variants, but overall there is a sense of hopefulness and excitement for the future and life out of lockdown.
If you have enjoyed reading this blog and hearing about the experiences shared by members of the Generate Voices Forum, then please come join our next meeting. We would love to hear your experiences too!