Natasha age 45

Something I have missed the most is going round the charity shops! I get so much joy from them, it’s like going on a treasure hunt. I love knowing that each piece of clothing has a story to tell from its previous owner.  Wherever In the country I have been I have always rooted around the charity shops, it’s my way of getting to know a town!

Before the pandemic hit I’d realised I had to adapt my work goals around health problems I have. I was getting a little better before Covid hit. I’d finished a horticulture course and I’d applied for a job that would help me move forward and develop connections, the job was pulled because of the lockdown.  My ultimate plan was to start growing and selling cut flowers and herbs at market gardens.

I discovered I had another illness only when I received a shielding letter saying I had an Immune Deficiency Disorder, This was a bit of a shock to me, I realised just how at risk I was. Since the first lockdown I have also developed a heart condition which is the most dangerous thing I could have. As the restrictions lift, I realise that the restrictions for me won’t, life is not going to be opening up for me as I am too physically vulnerable. I have found the anti-lockdown protests hurtful, the idea that they would be willing to just let vulnerable people like myself die.

The uncertainty has been really hard but spending time with my wife and my cats has got me through. The lovely little playtime routines we have with the cats and my connections with them and my wife have strengthened. My wife was furloughed so we had less money but more time.  We have done loads to the house, I would say time, connection and DIY is what has got me through! The lovely weather in the first lockdown meant I was often in the garden, I planted loads of seeds and I grew veg and cut flowers.  I was in the garden a lot, either in the potting shed my wife built, or on my reclining chair. The connection with nature has been my go to therapy, I really feel for people stuck in tower blocks during the lockdown, I so appreciate the nature around me. We have so many beautiful birds in the garden Woodpeckers, Finch’s, Longtail Tits, Great Tits, it’s been lovely just watching them. Being in the garden so much meant I got to see things I wouldn’t normally see, I’ve been watching this Great Tit chick being fed by a tiny Coal Tit, its adopted the chick which sits squawking and the Great Tit responds by feeding it. I think the birds have got used to my presence in the garden so more of them have started to feel safe enough to enter.  I love seeing all this life in nature going on, it’s like witnessing other worlds, it has been my therapy.

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