Stories from lockdown: “I just miss going outside, meet my friends, being free!”

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Hanif Asokomhe joined Islington Giving in January 2020 as the Office and Administration Assistant Apprentice. As an Islington resident, he was happy to work locally and he enjoyed going to the office every day, where he spent some days doing his college work and others just learning new office admin tasks with his team.

Two months after starting his new job, the Covid-19 outbreak happened and he suddenly found himself, just like the rest of the young people in the borough, under lockdown. He is working from home now and we asked him how his life and the life of other local young people has changed during the last two months.

How has your life changed since the lockdown started?

It has changed a lot. I’m spending more time indoors, staying at home and that is a bit annoying.

I really enjoyed waking up, going to work from 9 to 5, and to college, getting some fresh air on the way, seeing my colleagues...At work we have video calls every week but seeing them physically is always better than a virtual call.

I miss just going outside! I do miss it a lot! But we’re all in it together, so that makes it a bit better, not feeling alone during this pandemic.

I’ve got modules and assignments that I need to do for college, so I’m using this time to do my studies. I’m also trying to learn more skills, for example expanding my knowledge and understanding around Microsoft Word and other programmes so that when I can go back to the office there are more tools that I can use.


How do you keep in touch with family and friends?

Islington is a homely borough, everyone knows each other, or knows someone’s friend of someone! I use more Facetime now, usually I would use a normal call but now I usually get more video calls, which is good!


How are your friends coping with the crisis? Do you all have similar worries and feelings around it?

I think my friends are taking it quite well. In the beginning we thought we couldn't wait for it to be over, but some of us are now actually using the spare time that we have, coming up with creative ideas, like starting business plans, we can do more for our knowledge. My friends have been brainstorming, using their time wisely so that when life goes back to normal they have a structure to benefit themselves from.

I remember when I was younger, I used to go outside after school and play football with my friends. Now that we have this situation and with kids not being able to go outside I feel like they’re losing those extra-curriculum activities, playing around with their friends and keeping themselves fit so I feel that that’s the negative side, not being allowed to go out and enjoying their free time.


You’re a big sports fan, do you miss watching it on TV?

I could never have imagined a situation like this! I’m a huge sports fan, I like basketball, football, American football, so sports not being televised is pretty annoying. In my leisure time I used to watch football highlights and I can’t do that anymore. But the flip side of it is realising how important sports are for me in a way, as I never knew until it was gone!


What do you miss the most from the days before lockdown?

For me it’s just literally being able to do anything I want in my own time. After this call I could go to the shops but I’d need to be more precautious than in normal times….so I just miss going outside, meeting my friends, being free!


What’s the first thing you will do the minute you can go back to normal?

I don’t know, I don’t have anything planned! But I will definitely go see my friends, because we haven’t met up in a while!


Did you want to say something else to the people in the borough?

We are fighting through this pandemic together, there’s better days to come, but we need to stay positive and nothing lasts forever We’ll get back to normal - we just need to sit tight for now!


Watch the Zoom interview with Islington Giving's Programme Team on how they are adapting to Covid-19. Or learn more about how you can support the most vulnerable people in Islington during these times.

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