WE ARE HOME - FINSBURY PARK IN LOCKDOWN 5

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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N4KLAE_019
June 14th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We’re a nuclear family of 4 with two boarders from Japan living with us at the moment. They are here on working holiday visas and were both working until lockdown affected their jobs. The family consists of me and my husband, Leo, and our two boys Arthur and Ernie (ages 9 and 5).

One of our boarders has been here since September, the other since February. It’s a full house so always full of noise and action, which I think is a good thing in general. The boys go out on long walks every afternoon with one or both of the girls, and I spend that time getting dinner ready. Leo’s parents live locally in Muswell Hill and have been very helpful in doing weekly Zoom lessons with the kids, teaching them stuff like poetry and Spanish and reading them stories. Because we are raising our children to be bilingual, there’s a lot of ground to cover in terms of homeschooling.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Leo and I are both able to work from home, though I freelance and work has really slowed down from the pandemic. For Leo, luckily his job is secure and he is able to find quiet space upstairs to work. Though our boarders have not been able to work since the lockdown, with recent easing, one of them has started to babysit a few days a week for a local family she used to look after pre-lockdown. The kids have both been at home but the younger one is able to start going back to school two days a week starting next week as he is Reception age. Our older son won’t be going back until September.

How are you all with everything?
We are doing very well under the current circumstances as we got lucky in having two other people living with our family. It was a coincidence as the second boarder was only supposed to be with us very temporarily before moving to her own flat, but due to the lockdown and her subsequent job loss, it no longer made sense for her to move as she wouldn’t be able to pay rent anyway.

It’s a lot of work to cook for 6 people every day, but the benefits of having other people (aside from ourselves!) to talk to and to play with the kids etc. has totally outweighed any downsides. It helps of course that we all get along and there haven’t been any arguments or issues over having a bigger household. The reason we started taking in Japanese lodgers was because we found it helpful to have Japanese speakers for our kids to converse with, to maintain their language skills. Oh, and one of the lodgers is a hairdresser so we’re able to have haircuts at home! It’s like we won the Quarantine Lottery, to be honest!

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N4JMD_005
June 14th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Julie and Matt, living in a 2 bedroomed flat, with a small balcony on the front, so we do have a tiny bit of outside. And we share the flat with Duey, the rescue dog, and Snots (a 21 year old Green Iguana/domestic dinosaur … surely a record breaker!?).

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I (Julie) have been working from home since mid March – the week before Lockdown, as my company pre-empted this … so very used to working on video apps, getting “ZoomFace”, and working from the spare room which is gradually becoming more full of “stuff”. I’m currently working hard on my couch to Fridge 5k.

Matt has worked throughout as he is a key-worker gardener.

Work has been insanely busy for me – I work in the music industry, so have been busy trying to get live streams online, releases moved and shows rescheduled. I don’t miss my work commute (to Kensington) at all, but I do miss the people very much, and the creative office atmosphere we have is great too.

Similarly for Matt, he’s dealing with the summer grow season with a cut back team as well, so he’s shattered, poor lad.

The animals are loving lockdown as they get all the walks and lots of attention – plus Duey is a bit of a needy ned and loves the company. He’s never further than a foot away.

How are you all with everything?
We’re both very lucky as we haven’t stopped working at all throughout this, and are busy too. A lot of friends in the entertainment and hospitality industries are in a very different position. We’re trying to remain positive, and to use the time to reset somewhat.

On a positive note, we have seen a lot of great neighbourliness, and people helping each other in many ways. We’re doing our bit delivering food for people and shopping for others who cant get out. I hope this friendliness remains when things do start getting back to normal.

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N4JJ_008
June 15th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
There are four of us here. We are Julia, Julia, Jamie and Mabel. Two of us are working from home and two not able to work.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Jamie is a journalist and has been working throughout lockdown; I’m a painter and decorator and haven’t been able to work since mid March. I got involved with a local scrubs hub and have been making scrubs and masks in a local church. That has been a really brilliant experience – I feel lucky to have been able be part of it because it gave me a structure to the day that I missed not working. And I met such a great bunch of people, and learned a huge amount.

How are you all with everything?
We are lucky in that we have a small garden and a roof terrace so we have grown lots of veg and flowers; I ran out of space and started a street garden a few years ago which has got bigger and bigger. So I’ve spent quite a lot of time watering it and removing small presents from a small minority of dog owners who can’t tell the difference between a container full of plants and a bin.

We have all done a lot of walking – loads and loads of it. Waterlow Park and the parkland walk are nearby.
It’s been a difficult time especially in the first few weeks and we have been horrified by the way the government have handled it. It feels as if things are getting better but we are all worried about a second wave of infections so we’re still being pretty careful though it’s been a huge relief being able to see friends again. Our social lives are weather dependent but we’ve had brilliant weather. I can’t imagine doing this in the winter! Let’s hope we don’t have to.

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N4G_015
June 15th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Gaelle and Maxime, a Swiss couple who moved to the UK in January 2020 with Pépin, our chow chow. I, Gaelle, decided to move to the UK last September to fulfil my dream of working in the music industry.

While cleaning my old stuff at my parents, I found my diary from when I was 15 years old. I’d written about how I met my holiday sweetheart back then. I knew I still had him on social networks so I sent him the text for fun. We had not spoken for 10 years. We had a drink at the end of October, started dating afterwards and next thing you know, he’d decided to take a leap of faith with me and we moved to London together. He had the dog already so I adopted him as a bonus. We feel lucky to live in a bright modern flat with a balcony and a lot of nature around.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I only spent around three weeks in my new company before the lockdown. Luckily as a digital marketer I can work from home. Musicians are doing a lot of things online now, so I do have enough to work with.

Maxime found his job during the coronavirus crisis and started his onboarding from home 3 weeks ago. He likes his new company a lot. He is a product designer in Fintech. We work in different rooms so we are even happier to spend time together in the evening. Pépin needs a walk twice a day, so we never stopped going outside.

How are you all with everything?
The beginning was stressful, as Switzerland had started their lockdown before the UK, so we did too. We were able to get groceries delivered every week so we felt safe. Having a dog helped us a lot to keep going out and moving a bit. Now we feel very grateful to both have a job and to have our families healthy.

We do have a small frustration of moving to a new city without being able to discover it at all. We are really looking forward to more London life. We are also really happy with our decision to move in together after only dating a few months; coronavirus was a great relationship crash test!

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BLUE

 

N4B_013
June 22nd

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I’m very lucky as I have a nice size flat with a garden. I’m living with a flatmate, but he’s having to move out next week. I have three cats – they all loved having me around, and I’m happy I have them.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Working is unfortunately not happening for me. I own a tattoo studio but we’ve been closed since the 19th of March and we still don’t know when we will be able to re-open. It’s very frustrating.

I run, cycle and do yoga. I’ve been getting out a lot but unfortunately I fell over whilst I was running and banged my knee up. That was awful, as only two people asked if I was okay, and so many people passed me when I was on the ground, which was upsetting.

How are you all with everything?
During lockdown I did lots of online shamanic ceremonies, and got more in to meditation, spells and candle magic.

I was part of a health study with a 21 day cacao challenge. Cacao is a plant based medicine you drink from the Amazon. The challenge entailed no drinking booze, coffee, or tea – basically nothing with caffeine and no chocolate. Drinking the cacao was a nice way to start off the morning, and we would get lessons to do everyday to connect with the cacao and to nature.

I’ve enjoyed my time but now I really do want to get back to work.

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ASHISH

 

N4GCLA_008
July 1st

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I would say my home situation is absolutely wonderful. As a newcomer to London and certainly not having too many contacts within the city I have been very lucky to find a co-living space that has welcomed people from all over the world and connected me with some very interesting people.

Co-living is a concept where people not only rent a living space but they come together to form a small community and engage in organised social gatherings in communal spaces. The concept is to allow people not to just live in a space but also to enable better networking and socialising through common interests.

I lived in a one bed flat for 6 months before this and although it was comfortable, it just didn’t provide a sense of belonging that a co-living community brings. I will mention that I feel the cohort of people living in this space currently are very like-minded and considerate so it was even better, as we probably share a lot of common interests and are at very similar stages of our lives. But to sum up, the lockdown – although unfortunate – was not as bad as it could have been for me personally.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I am fortunate enough to work in technology where my physical presence is not required. I will admit it takes a little getting used to, especially communicating over video calls all the time, but I have now adapted to the current way of things and certainly don’t see any drop of productivity. In fact I believe by cutting out the daily commute and time spent socialising at the office, I have freed up a lot of time to pursue some of my passions, which I believe is priceless.

How are you all with everything?
I would have to say I’m quite alright with most things and have very little to complain about. I am one of the more fortunate ones who still has a job and can work remotely, who moved into a co-living space at exactly the right time and has also found time to enjoy my own interests. I would certainly like things to go back to normal but I am tempted to consider a few more days working from home in the future.

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DAVID

 

N4GCLD_006
July 1st

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I’m living at Gravity Co-living, a co-living space in Finsbury Park. There are people from around the world, who have moved to London for work or school. It’s a great environment, with most everyone buying into the sense of community – so lots of barbecues, movie nights, etc.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
In terms of working, I have a desk and laptop that works well for me. My work is in digitisation and data analytics, so anywhere I have a computer and internet access I can usually make do. As for getting out, I make an effort to go for a long walk every day – which has been a great way to discover all the trails and parks in the area. As some things have started to open up some of us have gone golfing or to the park. But mostly I take advantage of our garden space or just head out for my walks or a bike ride now and again.

How are you all with everything?
It is definitely a struggle, but I’m very lucky with my situation. I’m still working full-time and being at Gravity makes a big difference because I have more social interaction than most people, I think. No question that it is a weird time and I’m eager for the city to open back up properly – but I’d rather the city focuses on public health and safety because otherwise we’ll keep dragging out this ‘half-open’ situation, which I don’t think is what we really want.

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N4GCLG_004
July 1st

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I’m sharing living spaces in a co-living with over 15 people with different nationalities, backgrounds, and habits which kept the lockdown fun and interesting. We’re very lucky to have our own open space to get fresh air, clear our minds, or just hang out and have a great time. Our grill made the weekends awesome and it is really nice to have barbecue and drinks whenever the weather permits.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I moved to London for my post-graduate studies from the Philippines last September 2019 and have called Finsbury Park my home since then. Attending classes online and joining webinars are surprisingly more collaborative and convenient. Technology is such a big help in coping with the new situation and helps in keeping us safe while working. However, this is not discounting the value of actual human interaction, something that one takes for granted until it becomes limited. For safety reasons, I only went out for groceries once every week and I’ve become more efficient in planning the meals around whatever I have on hand. Our “household” has come up with Takeaway Thursdays and have been ordering directly from the restaurants. I’ve realized how much this strategy helps keep the local restaurants cope with the reduced business activity more than using the app-based service as they don’t have to share their revenues with the delivery companies. As much as I appreciate the convenience of takeaways, I miss the ambiance of dining out and I look forward to the safe reopening of my favourite places soon.

How are you all with everything?
Cooking has been an effective anxiety-reliever for me. I have made dishes that I wouldn’t have attempted to cook in pre-lockdown era. Due to necessity and with encouragement from friends’ social media posts, dormant basic culinary skills suddenly need to emerge. I am always alert about social distancing when out and try to be responsible about my own and others’ safety. I just wish people would continue to be resilient in these challenging times and more selfless towards each other for everyone’s safety. Also, I make sure to call home and keep in touch with friends and family to keep a positive mindset and minimize homesickness or feeling that I’m missing out on family milestones. Overall, the lockdowns are global so we are basically still in similar living conditions, and in a way a shared way of life for the past few months. In times such as this, it helps to keep optimistic, find happiness, and express gratitude every day.

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JESS

 

N4JPP_010
July 1st

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
My flatmate moved to his parents the day before lockdown started. I like my personal space but I’m also very social, so I was worried how I was going to go totally on my own. The first few weeks were tough but then my partner and I were able to spend weekends together, in preparation for me having to move out (due to my flatmate activating our break clause). Things have been much happier since then as we’ve been able to support each other through the tough times and create happy memories.

My flat is very small and doesn’t have an outside area. I love fresh air, sunshine and nature so I’ve taken to climbing out the window in the stairwell to sit on the unofficial balcony where our skylights are (it’s much safer than it sounds). That was a good second best to not being allowed out for more than an hour at the start of lockdown. I may have gone a little crazy without it!

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I’m a primary school teacher and work has been a little crazy during lockdown. I’m only working part time at the moment, which is tough financially (as I don’t get paid over the school holidays either). Most of those days are teaching from home through Google Classroom, but I also have to be on call for key worker school. I’ve only had a few days where I’ve been able to go into school. Luckily I’m in walking distance, so when I’ve been called in I could avoid public transport. I’m grateful to work for such an amazing school, they have been working so hard to ensure everything runs smoothly at the moment. As an intervention teacher though my job isn’t secure and we have to wait for funding next year and to hear the new classroom guidelines to see if I’ll have a position.

There is talk about not being able to have intervention or PPA teachers for a while as that would mean working between class ‘bubbles’ or ‘pods’ and risking the spread of coronavirus. If I can’t do intervention or supply teaching work from September then I’ll have to move home to Australia for a few months as they are out of lockdown and I can earn a lot more money back home. However, the forced 2 weeks quarantine (escorted by the police from the airport to a hotel and not able to leave even for exercise) for £1500 isn’t very appealing.

I’ve also got an online vegan wellness business which I’m currently growing. In May and June we had our biggest months yet which is pretty amazing! The team have been a great support network and I’m so lucky to have them in my life.

How are you all with everything?
The first few weeks were tough, especially when I was quite sick (covid-19 symptoms along with the rest of my teaching team, but not confirmed). I was disappointed I had to cancel my birthday party making cocktails at ABQ London. I’ve always spent my birthday with my family, but with them back home in Australia the party was a good backup. I’m not counting myself as 27 yet till I get to celebrate! My sister was also supposed to be coming over to celebrate both our birthdays and for a trip around Europe, which we obviously had to cancel. I miss her so much so it was tough cancelling and not being sure when I’ll be able to see her next.

But overall I’m doing really well. I stopped my antidepressants in December and was worried what lockdown would do for my anxiety and depression without the support of the medication and having friends or family physically around. However, I’ve been focussing on making healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes. Plant based eating, walking, yoga, mindfulness etc. I’ve taught myself how to do headstands and have loved seeing my body get stronger. It’s been great to have something to focus my energy on and I’m feeling amazing!

I’ve been doing a socially distant walk every morning with a fellow teacher friend along the Parkland Walk (Finsbury Park to Highgate) and getting coffee from our favourite café, Boulangerie Bon Matin. It’s played a really big role in keeping my mental health strong, being social and helping me maintain healthy habits. He’s also been so supportive of my wellness journey and takes photos of my headstands everyday! Thanks Danny!

I’m looking forward to lockdown being over so I can see my vegan meet-up groups again. I organise weekly events for @londonveganfoodies and @ldnvegangirls. Zoom has been great to stay in touch but it’s really not the same. I really do miss being able to physically see our awesome community but so glad that everyone has kept in touch and been so supportive of one another.



GITA

 

N4GIF_010
July 4th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
There are two of us – myself Gita and my boyfriend Sergei, living in a two bedroom flat, with one bedroom now during the lockdown turned partly into office and partly to a floral studio.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
My boyfriend Sergei works for a design and branding company and since lockdown began, he’s started to work from home and is having even more work than usual, which he’s very happy about, since he loves his job and enjoys every project he leads. The lockdown situation encouraged me to start to focus more on developing my own small floristry business called Greta in Flowers. Now I am doing flower deliveries across London every Saturday and I couldn’t be more grateful about all support I get from people who are ordering from me.

How are you all with everything?
At the beginning the situation was pretty scary. After a few weeks we started to adjust, and keeping in line with most of the rules, finding peace of mind. Personally, I found myself a lot more proactive in developing new ways of growing my brand, finding supply lines, and ways of selling and delivering my product, which is flowers, so it is quite involved and demanding.

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