I’ve been working with the artist Jayne Lawless who was commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council to work on a major project to reflect how local people in Ellesmere Port coped during the pandemic – the highs, the lows and the lessons learned.
Liverpool-based Jayne has worked in the USA, Poland and Slovakia and has an infectious drive and imagination which invariably inspires those she works with.
The idea behind Covid 19 Reflections was to capture the memories and the feelings, positive and negative, from that extraordinary time when the world seemed to undergo a collective nervous breakdown as governments and health professionals struggled to come to terms with a pandemic that few – certainly in the West – had ever experienced before.
Whatever your views on Covid, most of us would surely agree that it changed our lives in ways we are only now beginning to appreciate.
Over the past six months I’ve been privileged to record the memories and observations of people in Ellesmere Port about how lockdown affected them as individuals and as members of the wider community.
As a former BBC editor, it was right up my street and took me back to when I was a young reporter interviewing people from all walks of life.
After all these years, audio still paints the best pictures!
People of the pandemic
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” [ C.S.Lewis – The Weight of Glory]
The resilience and adaptability shown by the Ellesmere Port interviewees is remarkable given the genuine traumas which many suffered.
I met Addullah, originally from Afghanistan , whose family fled his homeland around the time Covid struck in the UK. He explains in moving terms how they adjusted to a radically different culture in a country which itself was trying to come to grips with a crisis of a different nature ; this at a time when the authorities in Kabul had been taking ZERO health and safety measures – no masks, no lockdowns and crowds mingling freely.
I interviewed Lisa Denson, a Labour councillor, who’d been elected to office for the first time before the pandemic started and who had to ensure that the many vulnerable people in her community were receiving the support they needed, while of course trying to keep her own family safe and secure.
There’s professional musician Ian Prowse whose livelihood was effectively saved by his weekly Facebook Live “concerts” which were enjoyed by thousands of his fans.
Yes, there was music played but there was also storytelling, laughter and tears in spades as the participants supported each other as a virtual community.
There’ll be a total 8 Covid Reflections stories and over the coming months we’ll keep adding them and hope that they inspire you as much as the people I interviewed inspired me.
Check out the Unlocked Lockdown podcasts by clicking here.
While you’re here…
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