A year of lockdown living recorded in unique Norfolk audio project

'Luke' is one of the people who took part in the pandemic audio project Lockdown Voices. Posed by model. 

'Luke' is one of the people who took part in the pandemic audio project Lockdown Voices. Posed by model. - Credit: UEA

A Norwich project has captured a unique record of people’s experiences during the pandemic. 

At the start of the UK’s first lockdown, University of East Anglia researchers launched a project recording interviews with a range of people about their lockdown experiences.

 

To track the health of the nation, they wanted to understand how lockdown would impact people's physical and mental health.

The result is 'Lockdown Voices' an oral history project whose results have now been revealed. 

More than a thousand people signed up and they were followed every day for three months in the first study of its kind.

NHS keyworker and mum-of-two Gemma took part in the pandemic audio project Lockdown Voices. Posed by model.

NHS keyworker and mum-of-two Gemma took part in the pandemic audio project Lockdown Voices. Posed by model. - Credit: UEA

The participants kept daily diaries on a range of lifestyle behaviours including physical activity, diet, sleep, smoking, drinking, and drug use.

The researchers, from UEA's Norwich Medical School and School of Health Sciences, found that lockdown saw people in the UK eating less fruit and veg, getting less exercise and drinking more alcohol. 

Lead researcher Dr Caitlin Notley, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “People around the world have had to change their lifestyles very quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Professor Caitlin Notley is an addiction specialist at University of East Anglia Picture: UEA

Professor Caitlin Notley is an addiction specialist at University of East Anglia Picture: UEA - Credit: Archant

Many of the participants were also interviewed about their lockdown experiences - as the pandemic unfolded throughout 2020 and beyond.

Most Read

‘Lockdown Voices’ uses recordings from their interviews to tell their stories. 

Amongst them is Julie who "lost all sense of purpose" and "spiralled into depression", while retired Geoff experienced lockdown as a "happy" time, getting on with garden projects and taking up new hobbies.

Retired Geoff told the pandemic audio project Lockdown Voices it had been a "happy" time. Posed by model.

Retired Geoff told the pandemic audio project Lockdown Voices it had been a "happy" time. Posed by model. - Credit: UEA

In contrast the last 12 months could not have been busier for NHS keyworker and mum-of-two Gemma. 

She says going to work with little PPE was like going to "fight a battle" each day. And at home, she just didn't have "time to be Mary Poppins" with her children.

For student Lauren, life "slowed down" at first but by the November lockdown, Covid restrictions had  chipped away at her ability to enjoy life. And she began drinking "to get smashed because I kind of need a change of mental scenery".

Student Lauren said by the November lockdown she began drinking.

Student Lauren said life "slowed down" at first but by the November lockdown she began drinking. Posed by model. - Credit: UEA

Following a recent divorce, Julie had been keeping busy overseeing the renovation of a new home but after the pandemic hit she lost “all sense of purpose”.

Her physical activity and social life quickly ground to a halt, she had no access to green space, she rarely left the house, and her diet went downhill to the point where she was just “drinking wine and eating crisps”.  

She said: “My intake of alcohol got to the point where it was almost out of my control. The physical and mental effects meant that I resorted to a crutch, and that was wine for me.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter