Portraits from London Lockdown

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Portraits from London Lockdown

Photographer: Neil Hall


On March 23 Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented social distancing measures banning social gatherings and groups of more than two people. People must stand more than two metres apart as several European countries have closed borders, schools as well as public facilities, and have cancelled most major sports and entertainment events in order to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing the Covid-19 disease.

The UK government rules are to only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home). If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times and do not meet others, even friends or family. This means for most people in the United Kingdom, life has completely changed.

Ian Clegg is freelance builder can work but most clients have cancelled jobs. “People don't want you in their house and even if they did a lot of builders merchants stores are closed. But it is amazing how great shops are most people are people welcoming and calm. When I was younger Irew up in Rhodesia during the sanctions and this feels similar. Then people worked together they helped each other - we learned skills to survive even growing our own food for each other.”

Claudia Pastides is a GP doctor because her surgeon husband had coronavirus symptoms, she and her three children had to self isolate for 14 days. “I can still work as a GP from home doing non patent care. I enjoy having the children at home - 3 is a good number as they can help entertain themselves. Children miss their friends though. The worst part is that we we don't know enough. We don’t know how to deal with this virus. It’s frustrating.

Judi Abbot is used to working from home as a children's book illustrator. However the children are en extra challenge “I try to keep it quiet and relaxed. The situation makes me conscious of screen time for the children. Many of the lessons set by school are on computer or tablet so I try to make sure the children have other things to do as well. We are licks that we have a garden - we are under proper isolation and do not leave the house at all even to shop or exercise. I have family from Italy near Monza they have told me what the situation is there. It is so bad that I am not taking any risks. It is crazy that people are walking around outside. I will be fine if I I don't run for a month.

Catherine Tutton is 72 and retired. “I manage but i am dreading a full lock down. Not seeing people is very difficult as I am a social person - of course there are computers and I have had to learn to use them but it is not the same. I am French and Europeans talk with their body and hands. People are so different on the computer. You cant laugh or scream - you feel like a robot. I am a physical person I need to touch people. But I have made friends because of coronavirus - people speak more I the street. Everyone came out to clap for the NHS.

Liz Sherrington and her husband work from home with their child. “You have good days and bad days. Doing a full time job and giving the children the attention for school work is a jugging act. It feels like work, school, work and preparing 3 meals a day. But we spend more family time together and are all more friendly. We are using more technology than before. We use video calls - if anything we need more devices. Things that I’m not sure were possible 10 years ago!

Emma Tutton lives with her son Samuel “Home schooling is a challenge and I find it hard to work. There is more community in the street. People are helping each other and looking out for each other. In notice the venerable more and look out for them. Our street uses an app to speak to each - I shop for older residents - we have come together more. I miss being with people other than my son I can’t remember the last time is touched someone. I really miss hugs.”

Irene Georgakis works from home as an architect. “Theres a long lead time with my work so I am busy but I know over time, there will be a cliff edge. Home schooling and work don't go together it is important for structure and routine. I am not to hard on myself though. In am not a teacher I do not have those skills. It’s important to don't allow children to be bored. Coronavirus will hopefully teach them that. Hopefully they will learn creative ways of filling time.

Peter Godden is a reverend at the St John and St Luke and Clay Hill Parish: Obviously with social distancing it means that people can not come to church - now even I am not allowed in the church. Instead I broadcast services everyday via Facebook. I find myself using social media more to keep in touch with members of the community. Instead of speaking to people in church I am in touch with my congregation and am on the phone 15 or 20 times a day. The hardest part was having to close to church to vulnerable people. Until Easter, in our parish we provided food and a place to sleep for vulnerable people. With the new rules this is no longer possible.”

Nina Tara-Smith is a designer and art therapist. “As you can image my work has dried up and things are so uncertain. We have to fall in a new routine and have fallen into more of a survival mode. We're a close family but we not immune getting on each other nerves.”

Claire Powell is a key worker for the police force and works away from home 3 days a week. “My children are one, four and six so they have very different needs particularly for schooling. But we have come closer together as a family”.

Marilena Skavara often works from home so the situation is not that dramatic but home schooling is a challenge. Her street is in regular contact with each other using messaging apps on their phone.

Daniel Bobroff, a graphic designer has noticed less enquiries. “People are hesitant to commission at the moment ut I still am working. My wife and I have divided the house up in two she works in one part I work in another. With a child I’m only half as productive so I have to work at midnight. Luckily clients now accept it as normal that children on conference calls! I miss socialising but if anything I am speaking to friends more and making more of an effort t keep in contact The day they say the lockdown is over we will gather outside of a pub and meet as many friends as we can.”