WE ARE HOME - FINSBURY PARK IN LOCKDOWN 6

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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N4SA_011
July 4th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
It’s just me (Stephanie) and my husband (Akshat), we’ve been married for two years. Akshat is from India and I am from the US. We met in Beijing and we came to the UK as it is a halfway point. We are living in a one-bedroom apartment.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Before COVID, my husband and I worked together in a startup my husband founded in the energy sector. He is still in his business, but I’ve decided to use this time to start my own business.

As for the start-up, half of our team has been working from home for the past 10 years, so going remote was no change. But not being able to travel and meet with customers is hard. We are a tech-driven company that does AI, but human interaction is still essential to our success.

How are you all with everything?
Overall I think we’ve been lucky, we’ve managed to stay home and, through some miracle, we’ve kept a regular schedule that includes outdoor exercise every day. We love to cook and I’ve had more time to care for my plants than ever!

But having so much uncertainty about the future has really taken a toll on my mental health. When I talk to my family, I see how flippant they’re being about the pandemic in the U.S. and I fear for their health and a resurgence. On the other side, when I speak to my in-laws in India, I see how severe the government has been and I worry about the impact such an unsustainable and inflexible approach will have.

This experience made me realise how important it is to make sure that going forward we elect policy-makers that are science-driven, principled, inclusive, and most of all innovative. We can’t keep business as usual in a post-COVID world. Change is hard but we need to become more progressive.

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N4IL_006
July 5th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I currently live at home with my mum, Liane. London rent prices being so high means it’s the best place I can live in for the moment. We’ve lived here since 1991. We are lucky to have a garden and Gillespie Park is just down the road, Finsbury Park is nearby so there’s lots of outdoor space. I am lucky that none of my immediate friends or family have been affected by coronavirus, but my friend’s sister did catch it quite badly, fortunately she’s a lot better now.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I work as a data researcher and my mum is retired. As someone who works better independently in a quiet, controlled environment, working from home suits me fine, and there’s no rush hour commute-related stress. My mum keeps herself busy with piano practise, gym (on Zoom or socially distanced gym sessions in the park) and gardening. My exercise has been walking or cycling. Lockdown has meant I could really take cycling seriously as a hobby. Before, the traffic in town was too intimidating, but the emptier, less polluted streets meant I could cycle right into central London. I was amazed at seeing major landmarks without crowds, everything closed and deserted, it reminded me of the quiet you get on Christmas Day, except less festive and jolly and more like the set of an apocalyptic movie, and with warmer weather. As lockdown was eased it’s no longer as quiet and the roads are busier. Last weekend I took the bus and tube for the first time in months, it felt strange. I’ve been seeing my godmother who lives nearby, she’s one of the very few people I’ve been able to see in person since lockdown started.

How are you all with everything?
As someone fairly introverted I feel the lockdown works to my advantage, things like social distancing and staying at home are easy for me, but at the same time I enjoy my freedom, that’s why cycling around town has helped a lot. But even though lockdown is easing and places are opening up, I’m a bit reluctant to go to pubs or cinemas until things stabilise a bit more, going out in general isn’t as enjoyable with the threat of the virus. I try to distract myself with the ‘lockdown cliches’ of baking, streaming box sets, making cocktails, and doing nothing much and enjoying it.

My biggest concern is that the future is so uncertain. With a past full of things we took for granted that now feels like ancient history, and no sense of what happens next other than the doom and gloom on the news and social media, all we have is a present moment that feels like a ‘neverending now’. I am someone who likes to have at least something to look forward to, be it something small like a seeing a friend at the pub, going to a concert, or something bigger like a holiday. But we can’t make any definite plans.

Prior to the pandemic, I enjoyed travelling abroad. Now I don’t know when I’ll go on another foreign trip. My mum had a holiday booked for July and that’s been cancelled. I think of the silver lining, I said that this year I’d take fewer or no planes to cut my carbon footprint … and look what happened. I feel that lockdown has helped us to appreciate the little things, the local things. I’m also very grateful for technology, imagine if the virus had struck in an age before smartphones and wi-fi. My mum seems more relaxed or optimistic than me about the whole thing. I have things to hope for when it’s over: giving my godmother a big hug, seeing my dad and best friends again, and eating out at a restaurant because it’s not the same on Deliveroo! And I have a hairdresser’s appointment in a couple of weeks, my first definite ‘date in the diary’ in a very long time!

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RIZ

 

N4R_007
July 7th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
Currently it’s only myself. At the beginning of the lockdown (during March) my on-off girlfriend was poorly with flu like symptoms, so she asked to stay with me. I fell ill at the time too. We got a bit closer at the time, but after recovering, she left after nursing me and increased the distance between us. Since then I’m on my own, with an acquaintance living in the basement flat.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I don’t have to get out for work, I was awaiting some clearances to be processed before lockdown, but now that has gone into 18 months backlog, and my current employer is looking to rid of me by the next couple of weeks – my new interviews are being cancelled for this too. I have been going on long walks, shopping in the neighbourhood, and travelling to the park once a day or every other day.

How are you all with everything?
The lockdown has been tough, particularly with my situation of work and tipsy-turvy relationship. Not being able to see friends, celebrate Eid, or go to congressional prayers at mosque has been tough on the outer self. However it’s probably got me more in touch with the inner self. Productivity has gone down, self-judging became overwhelming, and generally frustrating. I have been finding peace through daily multiple conversation with my parents, especially Dad, and faith based meditation and practice. In normal times, I like to travel, so if I had a similar situation with my life right now, I’d have gone travelling to refresh my mind.

However, I am extremely fortunate for a lot of things financially, and spiritually, as well as having the time to self reflect, and fast without distractions. But I sometimes have concerns about the future, both for me, and the world.

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N4MSFE_011
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We’re a family of four! Steve, who turned 50 whilst in lockdown (not the celebration we had planned but we still had fun), Francesca (12), who is frantically trying to keep up with her school work and missing her friends no end and her sister Eloise (9), who is trying to avoid school work, and myself Melanie.

Steve and I are very lucky to be able to work from home, both in Digital. I work for Waltham Forest council and have been frantically moving services and information online to provide support for residents – I have only been in my job for six months so it’s been a baptism of fire.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Work was very intense for me in the early weeks, being new to the job and having to respond to getting staff remote working, providing online content for residents and producing online processes to replace face to face ones. My team is great and have kept me going. It’s much better now we are all at home. I have more time to help the children with their school work.

We are currently looking after a Guide Dog, Carlo, whilst his owner is self isolating. This means we have a reason to get up early every morning to take him for a walk and we get some exercise too, although in recent weeks enthusiasm has waned so I usually go alone. In the evenings we go to either Finsbury or Clissold park for a longer run out and meet with other dogs.

How are you all with everything?
We really have had our ups and downs. Early on in Covid I was going into work which felt really stressful because Steve was at home trying to homeschool and work without any support from me.

I’ve been doing lots of baking with the children which is a great distraction. We’ve spent lots of time in the garden playing kubb, a Swedish game involving knocking over opponents “skittles” and chalking our driveway. It’s been a really creative time making lots of things and writing stories and poems; something I have treasured and would like to continue to do.

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LUCIA

 

N4LC_013
July 7th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
I live in a shared flat with a friend and her girlfriend, there’s usually a third flatmate but she went to Wales for lockdown and hasn’t been back yet (she’s missed down here.)

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
At the moment I am still working from home and I am not sure for how long. I was lucky enough to sign a contract for a new job in February and have managed to start it and pass probation during lockdown, which is quite an achievement and something to be thankful for.

How are you all with everything?
As an extrovert, I used to spend most of my time DJing, dancing on stage or playing with my band (which has suffered a rather dramatic breakup during this period.) Therefore these months have been quite a struggle with my mental health and the sudden loneliness. My flatmates have been great support although the situation can be a bit tricky when living with a couple. However, since gathering in parks is allowed, I am trying to make the most of my new ways of socialising.

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N4HJG_009
July 8th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Heather, Jack and Gray (aged 2.5). We live on the upper floors of a terraced house close to Finsbury Park station. It’s cluttered but homely and we’re lucky enough to have a small garden.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
I work in commercial real estate and Jack is a university lecturer. We are both working from home and have set up a makeshift desk in Gray’s room. We have been spending as much time outdoors as possible and feel very lucky to have so much green space on our doorstep. I have been running on parkland walk to clear my head and Gray has enjoying watching the chicks in Finsbury Park grow up.

How are you all with everything?
Full lockdown was tough, as we had to work in shifts so had no quality time together. Jack’s work was more flexible than mine, so he ended up doing the evening and weekend shifts along with the majority of the childcare. Now Gray is back at nursery we have a bit more breathing space and life is much better. Jack and I are both fairly reclusive so we haven’t struggled too much with the isolation, but we’ve missed seeing family and our usual outings to museums and galleries. We’ve really felt for Gray not being able to see his friends but he seems happy and unphased by it all. It’s been nice to take the time to enjoy some of the simpler things in life.

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N4JMA_005
July 15th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
There’s just the three of us; Bert is 11, myself (Jon) and Maxine. Oh and Bob the dog.
We’re lucky to live in a nice comfortable house with a garden that we just finished doing some work on, so that it’s nicer.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We are all working from home, myself on and off but keeping busy reading and learning. Bert has been doing his lessons online and has had virtual piano and ukulele lessons. The lessons have been really good and he has really enjoyed them. He has also just gone back to school, but only two days a week which was a real shame, he is year 6 so it was really sad when he walked out in March. Very glad that the school opened eventually though.

When working we are all in different rooms of the house so have been able to get on with things. It proves you can work from home. I’m in the creative industry so it started off well, but I am now really missing human connections. I’ve had enough of seeing people through the screen!

Maxine has been looking after her dad in Kent so driving down there to get his shopping, he’s finally allowed out so has been driving up to see us, it’s been so nice to see him. We have been getting out as much as we can/could, so nice long bike rides, runs around the park and lots of dog walks for Bob!

How are you all with everything?
Lockdown is easing but we are still being careful, still working from home when we can and still staying positive.

The weather when good has helped! This whole situation has been terrible and we hope for a better, brighter future for everyone. Bert has actually enjoyed his time at home. It’s been really nice spending more time with each other and not rushing around everywhere!

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N4JJ_007
July 24th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
In the flat is Jon and I (Jo). We live in a cosy (very small) 1 bedroom flat above commercial, with no outside space. We made the decision before lockdown to relocate to my family home in Chiswick. So we spent the first 12 weeks of lockdown in relative comfort and space with my parents (Annemarie and Dave). Jon said to me at one point “Never regretted the decision to move in, and we all got on better than we could ever have hoped”, this is despite not leaving the house for the first 5 weeks as my Dad is considered more vulnerable.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
We decided in mid-June to return to Finsbury Park and are now both working from home at either end of the dinning table. Work has been uncertain for both of us at points during the pandemic with Jon being furloughed and my job changing (which was already on the cards pre-pandemic). Work has settled down for the both of us now, and we are in a good working from home routine. We both love eating out, and have recently been out for dinner and brunch, taking the opportunity to enjoy the relative freedom of the recent lockdown eases. We have been enjoying discovering local residential streets on our lunch time and evening walks, and we have even got our bicycles fixed and cycled to Olympic and Victoria Park to meet friends for socially distanced picnics.

How are you all with everything?
It has been a very anxious time for us. We are also in the process of moving home (very locally – a 5 minute walk) and at times it has felt like this might not happen. We are due to exchange this week so hopefully we will be packing and moving soon. Once this happens we are looking forward to a bit more stability in our lives.

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N4LA_017
July 28th

Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are Louise and Andy and we live in a top-floor flat with a balcony and two bedrooms. We also have access to a shared garden.

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Andy was on the shielding list for three months so from March 16th to June 20th we didn’t go out at all. I could have gone out but, if I had, then we would have had to keep our distance within the flat, and that was a) impossible in such a small space and b) a pretty miserable prospect.

The scariest part for us was right at the beginning when we couldn’t get food. We both love cooking and are very much daily shoppers; suddenly we couldn’t get out to the local shops and though we had plenty of flour and dry goods we didn’t have anything fresh. Friends and a couple of excellent suppliers (thanks @whitebrothersgreengrocers and @bensfishmersea!) have kept us going.

We both work from home, most of the time, and Andy has stayed busy all the way through lockdown. I teach, edit and write; most of my teaching was done by the time we were told to stay home, and there has not been much editing (the publishing industry has pushed a lot of books into the future, since it was impossible to promote/sell them when bookshops were closed). I found it hard to concentrate on writing (I am editing my first novel) at first, but that has improved in the last month or two.

We went for our first walk, very early, on Hampstead Heath on June 20th. It was a bit odd, and I found it scary, but since then we have been to the Lea Valley Country Park a few times, which is about 30 minutes’ drive away and really lovely and pretty empty.

How are you all with everything?
I have loved aspects of lockdown (the stillness, the lack of rushing about) and hated others (not being able to walk out of the front door; not being able to shop for food). I am quite worried about what happens to my part-time teaching and editing next year; I think work is going to be a challenge. And one of our greatest pleasures is that we sing in a choir with lots of wonderful friends; sadly it will be a long time before that returns.

At the same time, we have been lucky. No one we know has died or been seriously ill, though we know plenty of people who’ve had it (we thought Andy might have it at the beginning, but he was never tested). What’s more, we have a roof over our heads, food, and friends to help when we got stuck.

Somewhat hesitantly, we feel that it’s time to do more and engage more. The levels are very low in Islington, and though we expect the virus to be part of our lives for a long time, life is still out there.

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N4JJL_013
Describe your home situation (who’s in there, what’s your environment like).
We are James, Jordan and Leo (4). We live in a cosy two bed, top floor flat. Sadly, we don’t have a garden but we’re within walking distance to some lovely parks which we’ve definitely made use of!

What’s your current situation like in terms of working and/or getting out?
Lockdown was very hard at first. I (James) work for the NHS and in March I was hit with what we just refer to as “The Virus”. I was bedbound for 10 days, couldn’t eat anything and I lost over a stone in weight. I tried to isolate myself from Jordan and Leo, which was hard since our flat is quite small. Jordan also became ill but luckily, with much milder symptoms. Thankfully, we both made a full recovery and I returned to work in in April.

Jordan is on furlough from her Learning Support job. It was a struggle for her to look after us all, whilst being unwell herself but she was able to keep it all together … somehow. She created loads of activities to keep Leo busy and introduced him to yoga.

We also run a property management company which was negatively affected by the Virus. It was looking bleak at first but we have managed to keep it going and things have just begun to pick up again.

Since our recovery we’ve been getting outside every day; long walks and ball games in the park have been our go-to. Me and Jordan also started skipping/jump rope to stay fit since our gym was closed. It has been a lot of fun learning lots of tricks and having competitions with each other. Jordan even managed to skip every day for 35 days straight! It’s played such a big role in our mental wellbeing too.

How are you all with everything?
It’s been a rocky four months, but all things considered we do have a lot to be thankful for. The silver lining is the time we’ve been able to spend with Leo – as a family we’ve become much closer. Since restrictions have now eased, it’s been great being able to catch up with friends and family in person. We’ve also returned to the gym which has been amazing as we’ve both really missed it.

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