Kate is from Manchester, but she now lives in Toronto with her boyfriend, their roommate, a cat called Ted and a dog called Franklin. She had been in the UK for a wedding when news about coronavirus started intensifying around the world. They were on the last flight back to Toronto before Canada closed its borders.
Kate is a content producer for a film production company. They create TV commercials and mini-documentaries, but of course there is not much call for that since the city went into lockdown.
“The lock down has flipped my regular life on its head. My company has been hit hard. The production side has ground to a halt which has resulted in myself and other members of the team being laid off until work picks up.
Despite this, I class myself as one of the very lucky ones. I know my job will be waiting for me when all this blows over and in the meantime we can make ends meet with my boyfriend continuing to work and limiting our spending. I am also entitled to apply for employment insurance which, although won’t bridge the gap, will definitely help supplement.”
With all of Kate’s family being across the other side of the Atlantic, she feels further away from them than ever. Her mum is recovering from major surgery and has had to go into hospital several times for check-ups. Like many people with vulnerable parents, Kate now feels that she is the parent, reminding her mum to wash her hands and not touch anything when out and about. I imagine these sorts of scenarios are playing out in households all over the world right now.
“My family are definitely my biggest worry in all of this. I am lucky that I recently got to go home and see them, but I hate not knowing when I will be able to return or if anything bad were to happen now, that I’d be trapped so far away unable to help.”
However, as time goes on, Kate feels that there is more and more positivity shining through in these very unsettling times.
“In the beginning, it was hard to cut through the noise of all the negativity that saturated the media with rising death tolls and panic buying hoarders. But simultaneously I have also been humbled by how quickly communities everywhere have gone into defence mode helping and protecting those who are vulnerable. Locally, I have seen my neighbourhood pull together - libraries turned into foodbanks, restaurants feeding frontline workers, armies of volunteers delivering food parcels and care packages, hotels opening their doors for the homeless, animal shelters empty due to families fostering, senior hours in shops. People are pivoting and adapting, doing what they can to feel useful in a time of great uncertainty. I know this is happening the world over and it really helps to know that despite the isolation, people are coming together.
I have loved the human connection that has been created over the last few months, with everyone suddenly having time on their hands and craving connection in a time of isolation. I have virtually hung out with more of my friends than I have done in years. I have spoken to neighbours who I’d never met before, shouting across the street while we are all outside on our porches banging pots and pans for front line workers. Our next door neighbours shared cakes they had baked and we leant them board games to play. Strangers are smiling more when you pass them in the street. Normal doesn’t exist at the moment and people are making it up as they go along and despite having so much of our freedom to do what we want removed, the absence of our daily routines means in some ways we have so much more.”