Amy, Jonathan, Kathleen and Ben Barker
Photographed 10th June 2020 - 80 days into lockdown 

When and how did Covid enter your day to day world?

As lockdown was announced, my workplace had already been closed for several days. I work for an international biological research organisation which is heavily dependent on IT. For many staff, remote working is a natural activity as travel is frequent. But the transition was frantic and painful for the IT group as we increased capacity for remote working, and made last-minute provision for many staff.

What is the biggest way the lockdown has changed your day to day life?

It is kind of obvious, but being at home all the time is a challenge for the whole family. Although we have home educated our children for more than eight years, they miss their friends and the activities they used to enjoy most days of the week. There is a feeling of being constrained which none of us are enjoying. We are acutely aware of how privileged we are to be living in Heydon and to have a secure source of income. But it is a gilded cage; interaction with the world and with other people were a big part of our lives prior to lockdown and we all miss that.

What moment in Covid ‘life’ stands out for you / do you think you will always remember?

The first weeks of the COVID-19 crisis in the UK were surreal. That period stands out for me as a timeless "moment" in which we were transfixed by the escalating apocalyptic news. The Churchill-themed performances of Boris Johnson evoked wartime Britain. It reminded me of the disbelief of watching 9/11 unfold. Or the 24/7 real time TV coverage of the first Gulf War.

What have been the good things about this period?

There has been a real opportunity to spend more time together as a family, and to reflect on things that matter most. A change of pace was welcome, and in many ways still is.

What have been the most painful aspects of this period?

For me, working from home, though initially a welcome luxury, is difficult. The technical part of my work is diminishing as my career progresses and my job is increasingly about building successful working relationships with people who are often stressed, angry or in dispute. Video conferencing and email are not the best tools for these conversations. I am developing a real aversion to Zoom meetings simply because it is so difficult to establish a rapport, make eye contact, or read mood and emotion. It is exhausting, frustrating and demoralising not to be able to connect properly with people.

What will you take from this time going forward?

I will value work-life balance and the value of separating the two much more than I ever did before. In lockdown it is all too easy drop all boundaries between the two - especially when the living room is also the office.

Is there anything else about lockdown you would like to add?

Life is always complicated. Adapting to a new way of life is challenging...

For our daughter, who intends to attend a vocational ballet school from next year, keeping up with ballet is essential. Lessons have transitioned to Zoom, and we have transformed our living room into a makeshift ballet studio with a modular sprung floor.

Both of our children were due to take GCSEs and A-levels this summer. These were of course cancelled. As they are both home educated, the option to have grades proposed by a school and validated by an exam board is not available. So we are currently in a strange limbo, not knowing exactly if or when exams will take place and how best to prepare.

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