Today is the National Day of Reflection, marking the second anniversary of the day the UK went into the first lockdown.
On 23 March 2020, Boris Johnson addressed the nation calling for everyone to stay indoors, with jobs, places of worship, non-essential shops, entertainment, and leisure businesses temporarily closed down.
Two years ago, playgrounds were closed with tape, weddings were cancelled, and schools and universities officially transitioned to online learning if they had not already.
Visiting family members and friends outside of your household was made illegal, and only one form of exercise – for example, running, walking, or cycling was allowed.
The National Day of Reflection, spearheaded by cancer support charity, Marie Curie, is a day to commemorate the tragic loss of life and stand together with those who are grieving the lives of family, friends, and strangers who have passed away due to Covid-19.
Asian Standard spoke to five Bradfordians who have reflected on their experiences of the first lockdown.
This is what they had to say.
Kamal Kaan, an actor, and writer from Bradford spent the first pandemic at home with his family. He said: “Gosh, the first lockdown. Nothing exciting happened workwise, but I did love making our own ‘home mosque’ during Ramadan.
“Usually we go to the mosque, but the mosques closed, and we all prayed together with my mum. It was very special as we’d never done that before. Plus, we got to eat snacks in between praying.”
Mr Kaan added: “All my friends and family live in Bradford, so not being able to see them wasn’t too bad. I got Covid-19 in September 2020 and it was pre-vaccine and intense. I ended up in the hospital and had long-Covid for around a year.”
Shaz Naqvi, from Keighley, is a civil servant, a school governor, and a mum-of-three to two daughters and a son, her eldest aged 14 then twelve, her son who was six then four, and her youngest daughter who was five then three at the time.
She said: “During the whole pandemic, I was working as a key worker, so life carried on as normal for me but especially with the first lockdown it was difficult to do ‘normal’ things. My kids found it difficult not being able to go to the cinema or out to eat.
“I wasn’t worried about Covid-19, though. My children were the ones who missed out on things the most. They didn’t have a ‘proper school year’ as they didn’t get to go on trips.
“They also missed out on having social interactions with family. The lockdown seriously negatively impacted my younger children as they have lost social skills and their education.”
She added: “My dad passed away later on in the year, and we couldn’t have a proper funeral. It was really upsetting, even nearly two years later I feel like I let my dad down.”
Gulraiz Masood, from Keighley, was living in France at the time of the first lockdown. He said: “My family and I moved back to the UK six months ago after living in France for twelve years. We moved back because my wife wanted to be closer to her family.”
For some like Shareena Yaqoob, the first lockdown was a rollercoaster of emotions. She said: “Unfortunately, I don’t really recall much from the first lockdown.
“In May 2020, I became a grandparent to my first beautiful granddaughter, and I was on top of the world. Sadly, the following month I was given the devastating news that my mum had cancer and was terminal with only 15 months to live. She only made It twelve and I sadly lost her last June.”
A man from Bradford who wants to remain anonymous, said: “I enjoyed the initial lockdown period as it was different, and all the family was home but further down the line it impacted me mentally and I felt very different later on.”
Kashif Ahmed, a software technician and secretary of Bradford 4 Better, said: “At the time, I worked for Experian, and they closed the office before the lockdown, so we were home-based and then they shut the office down permanently.
“During the first lockdown, I was quite busy through my work with Bradford 4 Better. The first activity we got involved with was recruiting 1500 volunteers in the space of three to five days just to help people with Covid-19. This eventually evolved into what is the Bradford Covid-19 Support Hub.
“From early on I decided that I needed to start shielding as I have a blood clot disorder, asthma, and a weakened immune system. My sister works in a GP surgery and my brother in a pharmacy, so he would come home from work wearing a face mask, not touch anything or talk to anybody, head straight to the shower and clean himself down, and then talk to the family.
“He did that for a long time. The only person in my family who caught Covid-19 was my sister-in-law and my niece and that was only three or four months ago.”
He added: “I carried on working from home during the day and then helping out with Bradford 4 Better whenever I could, whether it was online sourcing water for NHS or supporting people who were struggling for money.
“We did quite a big push for pet food because a lot of people were struggling to feed their pets. Originally, we were just a community group but during the lockdown, we established ourselves as Community Interest Company (CIC) so we could do more focused projects around our objectives.”
What are your feelings and reflections looking back two years since the first lockdown? Please do share with us on our social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org