Today marks the anniversary of the 1st lockdown. Yes, a year has rolled by and what a year it was. I remember returning from a short holiday with my husband to the US in December of 2019, everything was still normal. We walked with the crowd on 5th Avenue, joined queues on Broadway to watch “The Lion King’. We mingled and jingled and returned home excited to spend Christmas with the rest of our family. We were already hearing about the virus in the news, but little did we know that our lives were going to change significantly in the new year.
So we entered the new year with the usual celebrations and cheers, in a way oblivious to the devastation going on in China, and secretly thankful that we were not getting any of it. Then the news started getting scarier, the virus was steadily spreading and the death toll was rising. Now the virus had the world’s attention! Yes, it had our total attention, and on the 23rd of March 2020, the virus sent us into a lockdown.
Reflecting on ‘the year that was’
A year later, the world has still not recovered from it and ‘the year that was’, has had a lot of different effects on different people. Some business evolved, some crashed, some people contracted the virus and have recovered, some sadly passed on. The virus caused so much sadness that there’s hardly anyone who hasn’t felt its sting.
I asked a few people in different stages of life for their opinion on the last year. I asked a respected educationist – Sola Alabi for her opinion about education in the last year. I wanted to know if having children write assessments and examinations with all the disruptions was fair. I asked an entrepreneur – Ronke Shitu about the effect of the lock-down on businesses. I have responses of the effect of the last year from two students – an undergraduate and an A’level student. I also had my friend and parenting therapist – Oyin shed some light on the effect of the lockdown on the home as well as the community. Lastly, I have a response from my friend Eno who is a working mum of two,, she has suffered a loss and also welcomed a baby in the last year.
Here are the responses;
It has been a very different year for all parties concerned with children having to access their learning remotely.
There has been a lot of inconsistencies across the different schools with some schools teaching remotely whilst others setting working and letting parents and children get on with it.
I really don’t think it’s a good idea to have children facing assessment at this time due to the effects the lockdown has had on children. What should be a matter of concern is to help all parties concerned settle back well into education and then begin to assess gaps in learning. My phrase will be to settle in first, then catch up with learning after that.
Shola Alabi – Teacher, Author, Blogger
It has been a crazy year but I feel the time has been a blessing in disguise as it has made me more focused and prioritise things that really matter. It has been hard on my social life as I haven’t been able to see my friends in person in over 8 months as well as family.
Education-wise it has been difficult as my course really thrives by having in-person sessions as we get to support each other as peers and get feedback as you are drawing and creating sketches and plans. Also being in 1 space where you sleep, chill and get university work done is a bit of a struggle.
Tyah Ogar – Student
2020 as we all know was a rollercoaster of a year for all businesses but most especially for those of us in the retail sector.
We saw footfall in the shopping malls (that was already reducing pre-Covid) drop to nothing even before the government announced the very first lockdown in March. We went through everything from throwing stock away to coming back to the store when we reopened to find some machinery and equipment faulty due to lack of use and therefore costing us money even though we were not earning any revenue.❤️In summary, we saw a six-figure difference in revenue between the 2019 results compared to 2020 and that for some businesses can be a “nail in the coffin” situation or at the very least have a long-lasting impact.
How have we coped? The first thing we did was cancel all direct debits and renegotiated all agreements we had or deferred any outstanding bills including rent. The government grant helped to relieve some of the pressure as well especially with the Job Retention Scheme which allowed us to keep our staff on payroll instead of letting them go and facing the ugly prospect of finding new people post Covid. However, grants don’t and can’t replace lost revenue as we still had to pay for some overheads during lockdown. The reality is that some of these measures that we took as a business as well as the ones taken by the government are nothing but delaying the real impact of the situation until we go back to normal life, whatever that looks like! Just think of how many malls have lost anchor tenants like Debenhams, Topshop, TM Lewin etc. The one good thing that has come out it is that it has allowed some business owners to renegotiate their commercial property agreements which have always been ridiculously overpriced.
How do we recover? This is a one million dollar question! One thing for sure is that our businesses cannot go back and operate in the same way in a post-Covid world. The main key factor to operating successfully after this is lower rents and business rates. We will also have to change our mode of operation and adopt e-commerce to fill the gap that will no doubt be created by reduced footfalls to the mall and high street and also because a lot of people have found it really convenient to shop this way during lockdown and have perhaps formed a permanent habit. The problem is that some products including ours are impulse buys, designed to be consumed fresh or at least within minutes of purchase and therefore presents an issue with selling and delivery to customers on online platforms. Nevertheless, it is here to stay and we have to adopt it with any other model that allows us to weather this storm.
Ronke Shittu – Group HR Manager Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
Personally, the last year has been a growth period for me. Having more free time over the lockdown I managed to pick up a few new skills, and also learn a lot about myself from all the time I was spending alone. I’ve been involved in a number of political movements from the BLM protests in America to the End SARS protests in Nigeria these protests allowed me to see eye to eye with other marginalised groups such as Women, the LGBTQ+ movement, and even other minorities whose struggles I had never outwardly showed support for in a large capacity before. I lost a loving aunt which was very eye-opening considering she still felt so young and I thought she had so much time left.
Socially I’ve met a lot of new friends online, who have a lot of the same interests as me and have taught me a lot about the ins and outs of the fashion industry. I haven’t really lost my connection to my friends from school because we were able to communicate online as well, when we returned in September we had all changed a bit but things immediately felt like how they did over the lockdown.
As far as education goes, there has definitely been a large impact, I didn’t take my GCSE exam and was given my predicted grades. However all in all I found my passion and began to educate myself on that, so I’d say it was a good year for that overall. Although my year overall was a growth period, I understand that that is a huge privilege as for others it has been the worst year of their lives. I’ve done my part by reaching out to people I know that I haven’t heard from in a while to check how they’re doing, and I’m proud to say that I’ve helped support quite a few friends through difficult times.
Othniel Jegede – Student
Umm not much changed for me, I was already living in a small town so not much of a social life there to begin with 😂. I moved cities and changed jobs in the lockdown, but that’s as exciting as it got for me. My relationship with God really started to thrive during the lockdown and I’m so thankful for that. I actually think many can relate to that. With most things shut down a lot of Christian communities started to pop up online and I met many amazing people through that as well. So in a way, I could say the lockdown fostered friendships that I may not have had otherwise.
It was a bit hard not being able to see family and socialize but in light of everything I believe I have much to be grateful for.
Tomi Adekoya – Design Engineer
The Year That Everything Changed…
I often reflect on the past year, I think about all the changes that we’ve had to make as a family, what we’ve had to endure, what we have enjoyed and are grateful for.
I believe most parents/carers will agree that the past year has been challenging to say the least – I think my boys and I have found it very ‘different. I use the word different because I’m choosing to focus on all the things we have experienced this year not just the ‘negatives’.
We had a different year because life as we knew it changed and we had no control – I don’t know any human being that doesn’t struggle with this type of change. The first few weeks of the very first lockdown were the most challenging in my family because the boys experienced a massive change to their weekly routine – no school and no football (training and matches on hold). If you know my boys, you’ll know that football is like the air they breathe and they trained/played several times a week, so to have that taken away from them was HUGE!
As a single parent, I was trying to come to terms with my new normal as well – working from home, supporting the boys’ remote learning, dealing with what felt like a ‘million and one things’ at the same time and cooking round the clock because my boys were ALWAYS hungry!! By the end of the second week of lockdown, I think it became clear that if we were going to survive without ‘killing each other’ and thrive during this pandemic we have to be intentional about how we’re actually going to navigate these times.
The good thing is that as time went by we became more creative and started to think of ways the boys could still train and play every day. They were also concerned about their fitness (unlike their mother!!) so they came up with a daily routine that incorporated remote learning, football, fitness and spare time playing games or watching movies – this kept them busy and occupied which reduced the bickering and arguing.
I think we’ve spent more time at home together this past year than we’ve ever done which has been great in some ways but absolutely challenging sometimes! We had moments where we truly needed a break from each other!
As a parent, I had to become intentional about giving myself a break and really prioritising self-care which is something I wasn’t consistent with because I had other distractions and used these as excuses. I also felt more overwhelmed because I didn’t get a break from parenting so I had to be intentional about switching off, putting myself on pause, regularly checking in with myself and choosing my battles.
As a School Family Worker and Parenting Consultant, I’m a key worker so I’ve worked throughout the pandemic. I work with and support parents/carers so I have seen first hand the real impact of the pandemic/lockdown on a lot of families – overall I think families have clearly struggled however I also think a lot of parents/carers and their children have realised how resilient they are. They probably don’t give themselves enough credit for how far they’ve come and how well they are doing considering the challenges of the past year – thankfully a big part of my role is to highlight this, to acknowledge that things have been very tough however they’re still standing, still persevering and still trying to give it their best.
In the past year, parents/carers have shared with me about how they’ve had moments when they really struggled, how other parents/carers have offered them support, how they have been able to survive some really difficult times and are now better at managing life/parenting in general.
Looking back, I believe resilience has been very evident in parenting and family life over the past year – this looks different for each family and each individual however I think for a lot of families including mine it has been recognising that there will be challenging moments, bad days, difficult feelings and big emotions but we’re still here so we keep going, we bounce back, we support each other and we never give up.
Oyin Kalejaiye – Parenting Consultant
The experience has been life-changing. It’s been a combination of tough, challenging, frustrating and happy (sometimes).
1st lockdown was particularly very tough as it was a shock to the system. Not being able to do the things we would normally have done. The normal we were all used to ‘me time’ became a foreign concept and I starting missing those little privileges such as family trips even little things we took for granted such as lunch breaks, coffee breaks, catching up with friends, trips to the west end/shopping centres and the likes.
I particularly struggled at the beginning because I was trying to live the life I was used to pre lockdown, like ensuring the house was super neat and tidy even though I had a one-year-old at home, when on work call I wanted the house to be dead silent etc. Each individual aspect was hard, combined – it was super challenging.
Work: at the beginning, work suffered the most because I was only working at 50-60% capacity! I had my son to look after so it was close to impossible working at 💯 capacity. With time I started planning my work schedule based on my son’s sleeping schedule which helped a great deal. So all my major meetings and deadlines were done during his nap time.
Family: as mentioned above I was still doing everything I did pre lockdown. Months into lockdown I had to get help from hubby to ease the pressure on myself. In all, I started appreciating small wins and at the end of each day, I was thankful for making it through the day 😂.
Even though the whole being at home was a shock to the system, there were some positive outcomes like spending time with my hubby and son – watching my son grow, which was priceless.
In all, the last year has been an emotional rollercoaster! When I found out I was pregnant, I was over the moon, full of joy. Lockdown at the beginning seemed to be a fabulous idea as I didn’t have to get in the tube/wake up super early to get my son ready for nursery and then work. That I LOVED about the lockdown. Then came pregnancy tiredness, coupled with the tiredness of running after a toddler and generally caring for him 24 /7, pregnancy hormones etc. But I am thankful to God for giving me strength throughout and good health. By mid of the year, my dad became ill and it felt like I was carrying the whole world on my head. But we held on to God and that for me was my greatest growth during the pandemic ….. my relationship with God. In all, the past year was bittersweet…Eno Adebanjo – Business Manager
The Brtish Government has declared today as the National Day of Reflection and it is planned to be an annual event, A minute’s silence is planned at 12 pm in honour of the lives that were lost due to the pandemic whilst Prominent buildings and iconic landmarks will also light up at 8 pm across the UK.
As we reflect on the year that has been, may I doff my hat to you, yes, you for making it work. it’s amazing how we underestimate the resilient spirit of humans and our ability to adapt to changes. We have all gone through a difficult year with some of us losing loved ones thereby adding grief to the unexpected changes around us. One thing that has been amazing is us all, people. We have carried each other through it all, and as we reflect on the past year, let us remain grateful and hopeful. Let us continue to do what we can in our community to help each other in our own little way sowing seeds of love everywhere we go.
May the souls we lost find eternal rest 🙏🏽.