CLAPPING for the NHS, Zoom calls and briefings, juggling school and work from the kitchen table… wherever and however you spent the pandemic, it affected us all.
We were in it together, yet no two experiences were the same. By sharing your unique story, you could help shape the future for generations to come.
Everyone has a story to tell – and the UK Covid-19 Inquiry wants you to share yours.
The inquiry’s independent and impartial investigations will uncover just how ready we were for the pandemic, the enormous impact it had and the lessons to be learned for the future.
‘At my 12-week scan I sobbed behind my mask when I heard the heartbeat’
Everybody’s story matters, big or small. Your voice will help us learn important lessons to shape the inquiry’s investigations and recommendations for the future.
You can share your experiences online, and the stories will be analysed and turned into anonymous themed reports that will be submitted as evidence.
Ruth Bradford, 41, owns a baby product company and lives in Bristol with her lawyer husband Karl, 44, and their children, Edward, seven, and Josephine, two.
She was pregnant with Josephine during the pandemic and is sharing her story with the inquiry of how it felt as a mum to be.
The family “bubbled” with Ruth’s parents, Viv and Les Ibbotson, 74 and 79. Les was on the vulnerable list.
“I went to my 12-week scan alone and sobbed behind my mask when I heard the heartbeat,” says Ruth.
“This was April 2020 so we had just gone into that first scary lockdown. We’d had a miscarriage a few months before, so going in by myself was really daunting.
“I remember saying to the midwife, ‘I don’t want to know unless it’s OK.’ I just remember bursting into tears, I was so relieved that everything was all right.
“She said, ‘I can’t even give you a hug or hold your hand because of social distancing.’ She was lovely.”
Ruth and Karl took every step to stay safe because no one knew how Covid could affect a pregnancy: “It was super-tough. Even if we went out for a walk we’d cross the street if anyone was coming. It was a kind of paranoia.”
Karl was able to be at the birth. “I think I was awake for 48 hours with no rest,” Ruth says. “But when he came to pick us up to go home, the hospital had lost his Covid test so he couldn’t come in.”
Lockdown was especially harsh because the family was midway through building work, which ground to a halt.
“We spent five months in one room cooking on a camping stove, washing up in the bath and trying to keep our then three-year-old son amused. It was very bleak.”
She feels some people didn’t adhere to the rules at all. “I have to admit I still feel quite traumatised by it all,” she says.
“That whole time makes me really emotional. It’s hard to reconcile our amazing two-year-old daughter with desperately trying to protect her from Covid before she arrived and in those early months.”
Ruth’s mum Viv says: “We felt helpless in many ways. I thought if I got ill then I was bound to pass it on to Les. We were wiping down shopping.”
Les, who has various health conditions including having no spleen, adds: “We didn’t leave the house. We isolated ourselves more or less completely.”
And while Viv and Les had formed a social bubble with Ruth’s family, their son lives in Yorkshire.
“It was two and a half years before we could see our twin grandchildren,” says Viv. “So they’d done an awful lot of growing up.”
Meanwhile, Karl had just started a brand new job and barely seen his new colleagues before having to stay at home.
“We didn’t have to do schooling, which was the good thing. Edward was too young. We could just concentrate on trying to fill his day with activities while trying to work.”
Sharing stories from the pandemic and being a trusted friend for readers was the goal for lifestyle journalists during that chaotic time, says Lydia Major, 39, digital editor of Fabulous.
“On the Sun news desk and health desk it was intense and heartbreaking. In the midst of so much devastating dark news, Fabulous offered light relief.
“We gave them advice on how to make their life the best it could be in a situation that was a struggle for so many people.
“It was especially important for Fabulous to share real-life stories during the pandemic, as it felt like we were helping, even in the smallest way, to unite a nation living through the crisis.”
Now, with the inquiry in motion, these stories are still just as important.
It’s part of our history, and without sharing the highs and lows we all faced, how will we futureproof things for our kids and grandkids?”
HAVE YOUR SAY
No matter how the pandemic affected you, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry wants to hear about your experiences
Search: Every Story Matters