Lockdown Anniversary: HUSU Staff Stories

Posted 23 March 2021
HUSU Staff share their stories from the past year
Over the past few months, the staff of Hull University Students’ Union have been sharing their very own lockdown stories in their weekly newsletter.

From funny moments to struggles to the simply mundane - we’ve all experienced lockdown differently.

As today marks the year anniversary of the first COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, we have decided to share some of these stories with you. 

 

(Trigger warning - some content below briefly mentions of suicide, stillbirth and mental illness)

 

Advice Centre Adviser, Kate

“It’s day 2379053619751 of lockdown and I’m still working from home whilst simultaneously attempting to home school a 5-year-old.  It’s fine though because my red wine, tea and rum resources are not yet depleted.  Another good thing is that I’ve finally got myself a real desk to work from and I love it. Scully, my dog keeps me company while I work which is definitely a perk of working from home.

Is anyone still finding all of this bizarre? I feel like I’m living in a Black Mirror episode. It seems a lot tougher this time too because we don’t have great weather and my bat-eared dog hates walks in the rain!

I am trying to occupy my mind from all the COVID-19 worry though - with reading and crafts.  Most people who know me know I love to read so I started a Lockdown Book Club with some friends.  Reading tends to be my easy go-to form of escape.  It’s especially fun when we’re reading a book called The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

Given that the weather sucks and I’ve watched far too much Netflix I thought I’d try out some new crafts. Some I’m good at, some I’m terrible at and some are just plain escapism.  

I’m going to try resin next – I don’t really have any family in this country and the Aussie lot miss out on a lot of Quinn related stuff so I’m going to attempt to seal a few cute pieces of her artwork in resin as a coaster.  I’m not sure how well that will go – if anyone has any resin tips feel free to throw them my way!

Keeping busy with things after work helps me with my mental health which is definitely taking a battering.

 

Student Voice Manager, Nicole.

(Trigger warning - brief mentions of suicide, stillbirth and mental illness)

"Rather than tell a story, I thought I would share a couple of little realisations that have struck me whilst living through a little thing I like to term “this bloody pandemic”…

I love people

I have always thought of myself as a “people person” – someone who smiles at strangers in the street, enjoys socialising with friends and loves working with students and my fantastic colleagues. But it’s only when restrictions were introduced about who I could see, as well as where, when, why and how, that I realised – blimey, when I can’t see people face to face, I really, really miss them!

At first, it was the fun stuff I missed – going out for drinks and dancing with friends, visiting family and mates who live in other parts of the country, and going to the theatre, festivals, gigs… and then as time went on, it became more about missing quality time with people. 

I missed seeing colleagues in the office to have a proper conversation with, instead of meetings via Skype or Teams where it sometimes felt stilted, or someone would get kicked off their internet connection. Imagine sitting in a Union Briefing in MR1 where every twenty minutes Jane is booted out of the door, Andy’s face disappears while he’s talking, and Kevin speaks in a slow robot voice. That’s what online meetings are like sometimes. Surreal!

And as the year went on, more and more of the people I care about started having truly awful life experiences. A death by suicide within the family. A stillbirth at 37 weeks. Multiple episodes of serious mental illness, requiring secure hospital stays. All in other parts of the country.

Under normal circumstances, these are all people I would have visited. Hugged. Helped out practically. Visited in hospital. Funerals attended. Hugged again. And again. But the pandemic prevented me from being able to do much more than be at the end of the phone, sending flowers and care packages, and lots of text and WhatsApp messages.

I’ve found this really hard, and continue to find this a challenge.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been sad news. I became an auntie for the second time as my baby niece came into the world. My 19-year-old son is a successful freelancer and has moved to a flat in London that he loves. My daughter might hate homeschooling but she has shown her dedication and has had plenty of time to indulge in her creative hobbies. We’ve shared special bonding times as a family – even if lots of it has had to be via Zoom calls and quizzes. Plus I have discovered that…I love walking

We have always been a bit of an “outdoorsy” family (my husband much more so than me, I must admit!), but since the first lockdown, I have truly come to appreciate the value of getting out for a good walk.

I count myself lucky to live in Cottingham, really close to public footpaths over farmers’ fields, so there are a number of different routes we can take right from our doorstep – always useful when living through a lockdown or three! Over recent months we’ve got to know our village much better and I do appreciate being able to step out and hear birdsong and the rustling of the leaves in the trees. I find it relaxing and it’s great to escape from the four walls where we are now spending so much of our time.

I’ve also come to realise that, although we might not be able to see each other in the pub or in each other’s homes, there is still a massive benefit to meeting up with local friends for a distanced walk and a takeaway coffee. Without the distractions of booze, music and other people, we probably actually end up having a better quality conversation. Whilst I can’t do that with my wider family or friends who aren’t local, I definitely enjoy it with those friends who are.

I’ll leave it there for now. During these strange times I have come to more realisations, but I think I’ll save those for another time.”


 

Administrative Assistant, Leanne

"So what have I been doing during this absolutely crazy year? A lot of reading (shocking, I know), jigsaw puzzles, knitting (I tried crochet and failed….again, but next time I’ll get it), walking down by the river, and also waaaaay too much Animal Crossing. Seriously, if you’re looking for something to take up a considerable amount of your free time, buy a Switch and get Animal Crossing!

The biggest thing to happen, however, was the arrival of my nephew Theodore Harry Spencer, 2 months ago. The whole family is beside themselves and my phone is full of pictures and videos of him, it’s nice to know that life is going on amid all this nonsense! Connecting and talking to my friends and family has definitely kept me sane, I’d say we’ve been talking more images this year than before which has been lovely."



 

Student Opportunities Manager, Alex.

"Well, I don’t really know where to start with a lockdown story.. it feels like it has been the most eventful year, like 5 years in one but it has gone really quickly.. does everyone feel like that?

We’ve had ups and downs like many families but we’ve stayed as positive as possible and really looked on the silver linings of this year. Not being able to go abroad on holiday meant that David finally managed to get me camping after 6 years of me swearing off it for good. Turns out, I quite like it! As long as I had 3 (yes 3) hot water bottles, a heater and a camping bucket..I was good to go! We’ve been to some wonderful places and managed a Centre Parcs trip with friends, our first time in a Shepherd’s Hut surrounded by sheep and glamping so we really haven’t done badly for holidays.. that kept us going with things to look forward to over the summer and we are praying and crossing everything possible that we can get away in January… I think pigs might fly.. but who knows!

We also have done a LOT of DIY. My husband David was furloughed for most of the first lockdown, but we both still got up early, I worked and he had his ‘furlough jobs list’ this gave him a purpose to his day and we’ve continued that theme in lockdown 2. I’ve upcycled furniture, taken off our bathroom tiles and painted – a lot! We also have a new log burner which is the highlight of my life at the moment! When we’ve not been able to visit our loved ones, we’ve filled our time being productive and not sat in front of the TV every night – this has really helped both of us more than what we probably realise... apart from now we have no bathroom upstairs still (long story!) but we’ll keep calm, relax over the festive break and hopefully be able to have a bath in January ready for Welcomefest Reunion!

In between decorating.. my top tip for something to do, go out for a festive walk or drive and see the Christmas lights. We do this every year and spot our favourite houses.. so far we have the ‘Home Alone’ house on Beverley Road, the stretch of road in Kirk Ella and Severn Street off Holderness Road. Kingswood has really upped its game this year and the owner of 35’s house in Cottingham… WOW! Any recommendations, please let me know! :)"


 

Campaigns and Democracy Co-ordinator, Elise.

"Well we’ve been in lockdown for five years now – at least that’s what it feels like sometimes! I remember the days when we all thought it was just going to be a 3hr boat ride (Gilligan’s Island, anyone?) – I mean 3 weeks of lockdown and now it’s turned into a 9-month endeavour and counting. Life during lockdown has been interesting. I’ve worked from my couch, my bed, the back bedroom, and outside when it was sunny (that was my favourite place to be in the summer). I managed to complete Volunteer Management training, wrote two novels, and revamped the Part-time officer training and Standing Orders all while capturing my cat in some interesting positions.  It was lovely to be back in the office for those brief fleeting moments in September and it reminded me how much I missed just being able to have those quick conversations in the hall or see my co-workers outside a computer screen.

I never imagined that after working for HUSU for 3 months, I’d spend most of my time at home than in the office. 2020 has definitely been the weirdest, most challenging year of my life to date, but I learned that I’m resilient and working from home has its advantages… can’t think of one right now though. Oh – I suppose being able to sleep in just a little longer before getting ready for work and the fact that I won’t ever take the ability to travel for granted or simply walk into the office. I do hope there’s light at the end of 2020 and 2021 will look much brighter for all of us."

 

 

Advice Centre Manager, Gina.

“The last 8 months have been some of the strangest during my lifetime. Who knew working from home could be so difficult and tiring?  All sense of normality flew out of the window on the 19th March 2020 and the UK ground to a halt for our first Lockdown of the year.

I decided to tackle lockdown and working from home with the same gusto that I use for challenges in life generally, I was determined to try and make it work as smoothly as possible and I have to say with hindsight and 4 cats/3 dogs this might have been a tad optimistic :)

Having a garden has been a godsend and I have loved being home to watch my seeds grow up into beautiful flowers and plants, very satisfying indeed, I have even taken on a rehomed tree and brought it back from the brink of death :)

A routine is essential to help to feel ‘normal’ so I have tried my best to keep up with regular breaks away from the laptop, I use this time to potter in my garden, checking my plants and playing with the dogs. I have to say my pets and my garden have saved my sanity during these long months stuck at home, as it can be very lonely when you live on your own, I miss the social side of ‘going to work’, I miss the chats, the catch-ups and face to face meetings in the same room.

Lastly, I can highly recommend taking on a kitten during these strange times, Toby has made me smile so much with his antics over the last 3 months and I have enclosed a few of my fave recent pics, I hope they make you smile too. Roll on a return to normality in 2021!”


 

Marketing Manager, Marianne.

“Lockdown has had many faces for me personally. It has meant starting a new job and sending one daughter off to University. Both quite important and significant moments in one’s life. It has brought home to me the importance and significance of family and close friends. It has made me value our garden and the crazy project that is a wildlife pond that my husband started, and which was our entertainment for the first part of lockdown. 

Having managed to rescue some frog spawn from the local common at the end of February, we watched with growing interest and care how the spawn turned into cute little tadpoles, how they changed from tiny spots, to grow a body and a tail. How they spread out across the pond and kept growing. We were there every day gazing into this beautiful different world in our garden.

Surrounding the pond were flowers that started to bloom, there were unique plants in the pond, which kept surprising us by appearing out of nowhere and amongst all of this wild beauty the little tadpoles kept growing. Soon some started to change, their tails growing shorter and legs appearing at the front and back. Soon they started to venture outside the pond. My husband was very protective of them and started to create little shelters, where they could hide and we were barely allowed on the grass for fear of stepping onto them. There were quite a few that made it to the frog stage and they all looked slightly different! Their colouring and pattern were different and they were just the cutest little things. Even the 18-year-old, who usually doesn’t leave her room was fascinated by them and spent quite a bit of time looking out for them. It has been a very special time and so lockdown will forever be connected with the cycle of a frog for me.”


 

Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, Shelly.

This is a silly little story but it makes me smile! I have lived in my house for 14 years and the front door is the original with stain glass, so when the sun shines it displays the most beautiful rainbow of colours throughout the hallway. Anyway, you get the gist! It’s a beautiful stained-glass door, and we are not the only ones to think so...

Every May for 14 years a Bee has positioned itself in the same spot every year! We always take great care not to disturb it with our comings and goings. It can't be the same Bee, so it must send a message to other Bees...Bee Mail? Anyway this year it has happened but this time it brought a friend! Even the Bees are helping each other in this crazy time! Just like to add they were not wearing masks or social distancing. Tut! Tut! (They must have formed a bubble!?)

 

Marketing Coordinator, Emma.

"Lockdown has been a funny old time for me, as I imagine it has been for everyone else. I had just moved in with my partner a few months prior, and we were beginning to adjust to our new routines when suddenly we were flung together 24/7, spending more time with each other than ever before. To make matters worse, my partner was furloughed, so he spent four months having lie-ins and enjoying the sunshine while I worked away! I must give him credit, he got lots of decorating done and even completed our new patio!

"The thing I've found the hardest is being away from my family who live up in Newcastle. I'd never spent more than three weeks away from my Mum, or Grannie, so to go months without seeing them was tough! Since then, we've spent many a day trip and doorstep visit, just so we can chat face-to-face.

"During lockdown, we've also inadvertently become dog owners! We agreed to help look after my partner's family dog and she's now become a permanent house guest (but we wouldn't have it any other way). Jessie has also become a regular attendee of marketing meetings and loves nothing more than wanting to play during important discussions!"

 

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