How did you feel at the start?
I was at college when I first heard about it. I listened to the news. I think I was scared, probably. We have never had this sort of thing in the UK before. We have had people getting ill and stuff, but not from this. On Radio One, they said that we now have corona virus in the UK - the school didn’t say anything until we heard more and then, I was out one evening and the staff said ‘you might have to go home because of the virus’. At that point I said I did not want to, but it started to grow bigger and bigger, this thing.
Anything you were worried about at the beginning?
Well, now, I would like to go back and finish the school year. Then I was worried about how I was going to get back home to Devon, to mum. I was not sure what I was going to do.
What has changed?
Every Thursday evening, we were going to the pub; every Monday we would hang out in the house, Tuesday was games night, Wednesday we would go swimming. Every weekend we were always going out, Sunday or Saturday, we would go out if the weather were nice and if we had enough staff to take us out. We went to a lot of places went on a bus to the cinema to see a lot of films; the pub one weekend; one we went to that bird place; the sea life centre. And I would always go and see some live music at the O2 academy in Birmingham. I had tickets to go and see Dua Lipa and Alicia Keys. It was Example, Alicia Keys, Dua Lipa and there was another one…. Foals. I was going to see Foals on the 9th May, Alicia Keys in June. I saw Example in February before the virus. I had three concerts to go to. Dua Lipa was in July, I think, but they have rescheduled it for next year, which was good, so I can go and see them then.
I think what was confusing for me was how I would get home and see family. It was a bit scary that really. I do not know how to explain. Bit scary that I would not be able to get back. I was supposed to get back on the 3rd of April because that’s when Easter was. We were going to break up on April 3rd for Easter, but we broke up in March, earlier, because of the virus. I was going to go back to Devon to see mum. I was going to have two weeks off. I was going to get on the train on the 18th back up to college and start on the 19th. That is how it was going to plan out until this virus kicked off.
It was all a bit confusing for me and the staff at college, to be fair. Dominic ended up coming to get me. I did not go back to my original home - I went back to a different family Sally and Jeff’s. I like it, it is good, it is nice being here. It is just different.
When I am at home, I always go to visit friends from my old college - go to visit and stay with them, or just for the day. Before this kicked off, I was planning on going to see my mum and my friends from West of England college - maybe stay with them, but it is all slightly different now.
I got loads of phone calls from my brother. A soon as I heard about everything closing: the schools, the pubs, the restaurant, the hotels and that, we did not want to carry on. We wanted to close everything down to stay safe. My dad and brother came to see me before the college closed and things; it is lucky they did. I do not know how I ended up with Sally and Jeff - it is a bit confusing. I was in the kitchen having a drink with Claire, who is the assistant at college. I was going to home on that day, back to mum’s but everything changed. My mum was away doing a yoga class that day, but it got called off early because of the virus. I did not go back to mum’s because she is classed as a vulnerable person and the virus might get her. Staying with Sally and Jeff was arraigned by social services - I first met them when I arrived at their house.
My routine has changed - I used to get up, have a shower, have breakfast, go to college, then come back around 4 o’clock, and hang out in the living room for a bit and listen to The Chase, then bed for 11. I do not have much of a routine currently.
I am still doing schoolwork; it is pretty much the same, but I prefer doing it in the room, like my braille with Manisha. It makes it harder because she cannot see what I am doing, and it is harder for her to tell me if it is wrong or right.
I have been keeping in touch with people via phone messages pretty regularly. When I first came here, I spoke to my grandma pretty much every night, and my mum pretty much every night. I had my birthday here - last year I was at college and the year before that I was at home for my birthday, so that is different is not it. My mum and brother managed to come out and we met up outside, which was nice.
What are you feeling uncertain about?
I am a bit uncertain about how to get back to college if it does open again. I have not heard if they are going to open again for definite, though they said maybe June the 8th. I do not have a lot of things with me here because I am used to getting the train back to college, so I did not want to take it all back.
What do you think the world will be like after?
I do not know. I cannot really think - I do not know how it will be different. This has never happened before; it is the first time that this virus has come to us in the UK, so I do not know what is going to happen when this has all blown over. I have no idea. I do not think it will be the same - the pubs will not be open when this is all over and a lot of them will go out of business. They discussed yesterday about opening the parks in London. I think it will take a long time for everything to be reopened again. And a lot of
The rules can be quite annoying. I do not think they are going to change them. The social distancing is frustrating because you cannot go and visit people and sitting with them and going for a coffee. I think it is going to go on forever. I think the world may go back to ‘normal’, but I do not think the distancing will go away. It could be a government thing - it is Boris Johnson saying things that we need to keep an eye on. Once everything is back to normal, you will be able to hug people and sit next to them and have a coffee with them; I enjoy that.
What are you looking forward to?
I will be so happy when they say you can come out of isolation and go back to college. That first call I will be so happy. The first call about that will be so cool. I am looking forward to going back out there, like, getting back to college, seeing mum, going out to pubs and restaurants.
Any other messages?
Just keep safe… just keep safe really.
Written by Otis and Roger Hill, Published by Dom Palfreman