WE ARE HOME - FINSBURY PARK IN LOCKDOWN 4

We Are Home is a photographic series which was developed in early 2020, during which time, movements were severely restricted in the UK to limit the spread of Covid-19. All the photographs were taken around Finsbury Park between April and July 2020.

Social distancing was maintained throughout the shoots. I wanted to tell the story of a variety of different homes, which have taken on a very different role in these strange times. I also wanted to show and celebrate the resilience of the inhabitants; how they’ve been affected by, and dealt with the coronavirus.

These unusual circumstances have affected us all, but affected us in different ways.

Please click on any of the thumbnails to read their stories.


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N4LSY_017
June 2nd

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
In our two bedroom house, we have Şahan, Lucia and Yaman (5). We share a parking lot/outdoor area with 10 families.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Currently we are all at home. We are both in the creative arts and entertainment industry, so all of our regular work has completely stopped. We are looking at ways to start making new work from home. Şahan is starting to do some video editing from home and I am writing a play for shadow puppets that Şahan is starting to perform.

We are lucky to live by a park and the canals. We go out daily to the park and sometimes take longer bike rides or walks through the wetlands. Other than that, we are not going out other than Şahan going to the shops occasionally.

How are you all with everything?
Generally everything is fine. We’re very lucky to be safe and comfortable at home. We are enjoying spending more time together as a family and discovering new things to do together. Focusing on the present, in the day to day, we are doing very well. Obviously there are levels of tensions and stress due to the current situation which can bubble up, but nothing that’s not manageable. We look forward to connecting with family members hopefully soon. The concern is looking at the bigger picture and how are industries will cope with the new normal.

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N4GSLV_010
June 2nd

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Sebastian, Gladys and the two girls – Valentina (3) and Lucia (6)

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We have been working from home and home schooling since the 14th of March. Both I and Sebastian continued to work during the lockdown so the days are spent balancing work calls and emails, home schooling, cooking and tidying up. We rely mainly on online shopping with occasional trip to local shops.

How are you all with everything?
It has been a challenging at times but overall it has been really nice to spend more time with the children. We are lucky to have big garden and Wray Crescent open space beside us so that has helped.

We are very proud of our daughters, they have been fantastic! Much better that we would have expected. We have noticed that they are closer, they play together and make us laugh but they do have the occasional meltdown as well.

Our families and friends are healthy and safe and that is a huge relief, and we are grateful for this.

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N4LADR_015
June 4th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We live in a 3 bed ground floor garden flat with our two sons, Dexter aged 4 years old and Reggie, aged 20 months.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I work in cinema advertising, however since cinemas have been closed since mid-March I am currently on furlough. My husband Alan works in Fin-tech and is still working. The boys are usually in nursery 4 days a week so it’s been very full on having them home during lockdown, but with me being on furlough it’s meant I can fully focus on looking after them whilst Alan works.

How are you all with everything?
Although it’s been hard at times, it’s been lovely seeing the boys grow closer and create a really strong bond. We’ve had some really special family days together whether it’s just at home watching a movie or spending time altogether at Wray crescent park. We know we won’t ever get this time back so we’re trying making the most of it and to focus on the positives, the weather truly helps and we are all hugely grateful and appreciative of our health and how lucky we are compared to many others.

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N4HCE_006
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Hannah, Chris and Evie (10). We are very lucky to have plenty of space and a garden, and live with two cats and a dog. Our dog Molly is 14 months old, and has enabled us get out and about meeting people in our local parks that we may not have met previously, as we were both busy working full-time jobs in central London. Rosie, one of our cats, has been out at the front of the house stealing strokes from lots of passers-by.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I work in the Head Office of a large retailer, and have been furloughed for the majority of the time, which has enabled me to support Evie with homeschooling, which in lots of ways I’m very appreciative of, as I think it’s particularly difficult for children at home. It’s not all been plain sailing though, and I’m sure my daughter would sometimes have preferred me to have been at work!

My husband has been working full time with an increased workload, and splitting his time between home and the office as much as possible. But we have made the most of the time together, gardening, baking and going on long walks and cycling, as well as watching lots of films and zooming with family and friends.

How are you all with everything?
We’ve lived on this road for just over ten years. Although we know lots of our neighbours, the lockdown has been a lovely opportunity to get to know new neighbours who we hadn’t spoken to before. The clapping for the NHS has bought us all out at the same time and created a community feel. Like everyone, we’ve had good days and bad days, especially in the early weeks, when outside exercise was limited. As a family with a young daughter and a dog we were previously running from one thing to another with limited time, but Covid has bought with it a slowness which we’ve definitely made the most of.

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N4JCR_006
June 7th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
Chris, myself (Jane) and Rosie. We are in a flat and feel lucky to have a garden in these strange times.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We are key workers but managing to keep our daughter at home and work too – which can be challenging! When we have to go in and teach, it feels very peculiar and eerie. A large school with very few children or staff is quite odd – especially in my school which was built in the mid 1500s!

How are you all with everything?
We found the adjustments to home working and having a young child rather hard at first. There have been many wonderful family times together which have felt like a slice of heaven.

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N4MJR_018
June 8th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We’re Maddison (25), Jasmin (26), Rosie (28), and Lia (23), all living in a 4 bedroom flat. Jasmin and Rosie have moved in recently as two of the previous roommates moved out because of changes to their work due to the pandemic. Lia is currently staying with her parents outside of London. At the beginning of lockdown Maddison was living by herself, until Jasmin was unfortunately asked to leave her sublet due to working for the NHS and moved in.

Maddison and Rosie are both Australian and know each other from home, and Jasmin and Maddison work together. Our house has a chilled vibe; we often cook together and have done lots of lockdown activities together to keep us sane (painting, drawing, tie dying, tik-tocking, baking, exercising, quizzes and cocktail making).

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We all work for the NHS, so have been working throughout the pandemic. Maddison and Jasmin are dieticians and Rosie is an occupational therapist. In the peak of the virus work was quite exhausting and testing, but we were lucky to have each other for support. We’ve spent a lot of time in our back garden during all of this (we’ve even got a little blow up pool and bar now!). Other than that we’ve enjoyed our trips to the nearby parks and walking the track along the water.

How are you all with everything?
Overall we are doing well! This time has taught us a lot about ourselves and each other, as well as a being huge learning experience for our careers. We are very appreciative to have each other and a homely comfortable flat. Although, we definitely feel like we are going a little crazy at times and are looking forward to when things open up again and we can see more of our friends and family.

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DAHMANE

 

N4DBBM_002
June 10th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I’m Dahmane. I live in a flat with my wife between Crouch End and Muswell Hill. We don’t have a garden, but we’re lucky enough to live in an area with plenty of beautiful green spaces, like Alexandra Palace, Finsbury Park and Hampstead Heath. I’m also the owner of Boulangerie Bon Matin in Finsbury Park.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
It’s been hard over the last few months. We decided early on that we were going to keep the shop open as long as possible, so I’ve been working as usual, except with social distancing in place and a bit more stress! Some days I’ve been in the kitchen, or behind the counter serving and making coffee, but most evenings I’ve been looking over paperwork and trying to find a way out of this situation.

I couldn’t imagine not being able to pay my team or my suppliers, and knowing how many people we had who were dependent on us, I was pretty determined to stay open. I was worried if we closed our doors, we might never be able to open them again, but there were days when it looked like it wasn’t going to be possible to stay open. We knew that there was going to be financial support but didn’t know when that was going to be available or how it was going to work. We started to change how we worked, adjusting our opening hours, changing what we were producing, and switching to take away only. Because we were already doing take away before everything happened, we had the set up in place; we just needed to adjust things. We introduced ways to help keep our team and customers safe, like wearing masks and gloves, increasing our cleaning schedules, and putting social distancing measures in place.

We were lucky that the team rallied around, and everyone took played a part in keeping things together. They came up with new ideas and got involved with setting up a grocery in the store, selling flour, yeast, eggs and other essentials to help reduce the pressures on the supermarkets. My wife has also done some great things; she’s been managing the social media and I think that’s helped a lot to get the word out. It’s been a real team effort.

How are you all with everything?
There have been good days and bad days. The shops are everything to us. I left my country when I was 20 years old and went to France for new opportunities. I started with nothing as a fry chef in a fast food chain similar to McDonalds but learned everything I could, and ended up managing a chain of Italian restaurants. I moved here from France 17 years ago, and finally realised my dream by opening the Finsbury Park shop coming up to 10 years ago. That was where I met my wife, and it was quite a shock to have to close the shop, seeing all the chairs on the tables and being in this unimaginable situation. But we’re not alone in this, and there’s been a huge sense of community and people are supporting each other, so there have been some amazing moments to hold onto.

I’m still worried about the future and what’s going to happen over the next few weeks and months, but I also feel really grateful. We’ve had people who have been coming to see us just to support us, thanking us for being open and sharing posts on social media. It’s meant so much. I’ve always been incredibly passionate about what we do, but this has been an amazing reminder of how crucial community and human interaction is, which is strange when we’re all more than two metres apart!

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N4GPSS_004
June 10th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I live in a small 2 bed flat with my husband John (who is working from home) and 2 cats. We have no outdoor space but are very grateful to live at the end of a no through road next to a park with a great community vibe. We look out of our windows and see lots of leafy green and happy dogs!

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I only live a ten minute walk from the shop and feel pretty lucky that I have the shop to escape to – or my now very expensive “craft cave”. I go to the shop most weekdays to work on the online shop or pack orders – and get out of the flat! I’ve even done a bit of local delivery on my (actually John’s) electric scooter! Even though we are closed there has still been a lot of behind the scenes catch up, research and overall “paperwork” to do. I admit I now have a much more relaxed day overall. I take time to exercise in the AM, clean the flat, make myself a smoothie then proper lunch before heading off. I don’t know how I will go back to “normal”!

How are you all with everything?
I think the simplest way to put it is there are good days and there are bad days. In the beginning I was more worried about my parents in Canada, as my father is very high risk, and if something were to happen, I would most likely not be able to go home to them. That overshadowed everything. Luckily where they live has not been hit that hard and I now feel they are fairly safe. I vacillate between worrying that I will not be able to keep the shop open and sorrow at the current state of the world to feeling incredibly grateful and very lucky that my world is as stable as it is.

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N4ASMS_016
June 11th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We’re four people at home, Andrea, Sam and two little girls, Miranda (4) and Sofia (6).

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We’re very conscious about going out; we haven’t been to the supermarket since the 16th March when we did our last in person shopping before locking ourselves in. We’re not sending the girls back to school at least until September.

In terms of employment, Sam is a lecturer at the university and he’s working remotely from home, I’m a self-employed hypnobirthing teacher and my business has been very affected by the pandemic. My full time job now is looking after the girls and taking care of the house; this pandemic has caused a big regression for women, in particular the ones with little kids.

How are you all with everything?
We’re fine in general and feel very privileged to live in a big house with a garden to make the most of the gorgeous weather we’re having this year. We’re spending some precious family time together and trying to make from this unusual situation a positive memory for the future.

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N4KI_012
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We live in a two bed basement flat with a shared garden. It’s just me and Indy (4). His dad lives around the corner and is very much involved with his upbringing. I am an artist filmmaker and editor and so our walls are filled with art and we’re generally creating something or other.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We had two split experiences of lockdown. The first six weeks was totally exhausting and stressful as, like everybody, I was trying to get my head around this mad situation, but also juggling my film editing job until gone midnight most weekdays, alongside looking after Indy the majority of the day. He definitely picked up on the anxieties of the adults around him, missed his friends and needed a lot of attention. We didn’t go out the front door much but spent most of the day in the garden enjoying the unseasonably good weather and getting to know our neighbours better.

We’ve overhauled the garden on minimal budget – repainted the shed and turned it into a play-hut for Indy, built a wildlife pond and grown a few vegetables – not my forte but getting there. After I lost my main client at the end of April – a film project I was booked on until Christmas – suddenly we could relax a little, not in terms of finances, but just try to make the best of things and enjoy this time together, which felt more like a long nostalgic summer holiday. To limit outgoings I had to sublet my art studio but I also started making art again as now had the time. I made a stop motion animation in response to lockdown which Indy helped with, and we hope to do another. Since the rules changed, I’ve been meeting up with friends and my aunt all over London on my free evenings on my bike which has been a pleasure.

How are you all with everything?
Ups and downs. But generally OK. I feel lucky we’re all healthy as is all our extended family. Indy’s grandparents were all too far away to meet up with during lockdown so we are missing them and video call regularly. I was terrified at the beginning for them and the most vulnerable around us, and have friends who’ve lost loved ones.

A nurse in the care home my brother works in had a severe case of Covid-19 and I worried, with the lack of PPE, that the rest of the home would go down with it. But luckily, when testing was finally available, the whole home tested negative. The nurse has just come out of hospital after two months but not returned to work.

I’ve valued spending this time with Indy who’s growing up so fast as often found working full time meant squeezing too much into the weekends. His spoken language is improving as he parrots the adult’s phrases around him which is often hilarious (‘Mama, it’s bloody pissing it down again!!!’). My mum finally drove up with her dog last weekend when the rules changed which was lovely although too short, especially to take her tea and cuddles in bed in the morning. Now Indy has just started nursery again two days a week, which he’s loving and I’m trying to use this new time to upskill to get more work when things get going again; and fix some of the things around the flat that need doing, like the oven that broke over the Easter weekend. Slowly does it.

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