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Sketchy Youths

Life in lockdown - differing experiences of Covid-19 and the challenges these bring

Kyle is a member of the ‘Sketchy Youths’ group of Impact Arts young ambassadors. Rosa is a trustee of Impact Arts, and works with the ‘Sketchy Youths’ to represent their voices to the board and gain an insight into the experience of young people who have been through Impact Arts programmes. Recently, Kyle and Rosa had a conversation over Zoom about life in lockdown, differing experiences of Covid-19 and the challenges these bring.

Rosa: How are you finding the lockdown generally and what has changed in your daily life

Kyle: A lot has changed. Life is more stressful in a way. I have to rely on my stepdad more, for things like getting to the shops, and for a sense of security. The lockdown has made my days long and boring. It’s like everything is on pause. Normally I would go out to see my friends, or a walk, or go for a nice meal out or something, but can’t do any of that now.

How are you finding keeping up with people: have you been able to chat with friends or has that been a bit difficult?

To be honest I’ve heard a lot from friends that I’m not normally in touch with very regularly. We’re don’t normally speak that often but now I’ve heard more from them than the people I would usually see.

I’ve found that as well actually, that older friends are having lots of catch ups but the people I see every day are more difficult to contact because we’re not used to having to have contact in that kind of way.

I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your visual impairment and how that normally impacts you on a day-today basis.

It’s hard to describe, but I can see the chair in front of me and I can see the outline but that’s about as far as I can see, and the rest of it is just quite blurry. If I go out and there’s any kind of sign or a menu or something I’ll ask someone else to read it for me, or I use my phone to take a picture of something and then I can look at the photo of it. I’ve grown up with it so in a way I am used to it.

Do you think that having a visual impairment has had an additional impact on how you’re experiencing the lockdown?

Well I’ve got a cane that I sometimes use, so I usually go for a walk with it when I’m out of the area I know really well. I go out and train with it for when I’m out of Kilmarnock so I can get used to it. It’s hard because I’ve been trying to go out to different locations but now I can only stay in one location or not go out at all, so I have chosen to not go out at all. I would find it hard to judge the distance between myself and others, so the 2 metre apart rule would be really hard to deal with. Before the lockdown I was getting more independent, but since it’s happened I’m more reliant on other folk. I can still do the stuff I have always done inside the house but it’s anything outside that has had the biggest impact.

Lots of the ways people are doing things now have moved towards online technology, we’re doing this over Zoom obviously. Is there any of that technology that you struggle to use or access.

I’m generally fine with all that stuff. But I find online stuff can be more iffy, with everyone using the internet all the time the system gets overwhelmed.

I guess maybe that could be a positive thing then. I was thinking that maybe for people who struggle with mobility and such, organisations allowing more working from home could end up being a good thing for some people. Do you think your experience, being partially sighted, is quite different than that of someone with no sight?

Yeah, my mum has no sight so I see how it has affected her more. She just recently got a guide dog but she’s finding it hard to go out with it now. She was getting taught how to learn different technology, like phones and computers but obviously that has stopped now.

To me it seems like that’s what’s been missing from a lot of the advice and rules given out, is how people with different or more complicated needs are meant to follow guidance or what allowances may be made.

I know that the support for the NHS is great, but it feels like people aren’t supporting those with other challenges, like mobility issues. It’s first come first served, so some people with disabilities can’t get what they need, and the same with elderly people. The timetables for the buses have changed and that makes it difficult for people who rely on those services.

If we’re thinking about all these challenges, loss of independence and so on, is there anything that you would suggest to someone in a similar position to you, and how have you been getting through it?

I’ve been doing things like playing the Xbox to help me cope and pass the time, because it gets me out of reality. And I think video games can be a bit educational. I’ve been playing Minecraft, Call of Duty and Assassins Creed.

But I also try to keep in touch with my family more than I used to. I’m calling my mum a few times a day. I used to visit them a couple of times a week but now for safety reasons I can’t.

And for anyone who reads this who doesn’t have any experience personally of living with an additional need or some sort of challenge, is there anything that you would want people to do or try to understand?

Just be mindful really, ask if people need help.

Yes I think people need to be forgiving and not assume the worst, when they see people who might need additional support or additional resources. Is there anything you hope we take away or learn from this lockdown?

Keeping in touch, especially people you’d lost contact with and reconnected with recently.

You can find out more about the Sketchy Youths here.

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