Children of Salisbury - Life After Lockdown was a project that will grow in significance in years and generations to come as we reflect on how Coronavirus changed the lives of the future generation of Salisbury. It was also an opportunity to contribute to the vital charity work of The Stars Appeal Hospital Heroes and Action for Children, both of which are supporting children and their families and carers through this crisis and we raised over £5000 split between the two.
The project captured 112 children aged 14 and under, from all backgrounds and areas of Salisbury to represent Salisbury's diverse community.
The overriding theme was how families came together, embracing the simpler pleasures of life that were too easy to take for granted. Uplifting tales of closer relationships, overcoming anxieties and discovering passions. These children embraced nature, the environment, baking, exercise and used those positives to overcome anxieties, forge closer relationships and set themselves challenges.
The final book was published in December 2020 and is a collection of the images and the stories of each child's experience. It is a body of portraits that document a generation of children in the wake of this unprecedented event in their lives, and how the effect of lockdown has shaped their view on what is important to them and potentially how they live their future lives.
How it worked
Each family was asked to donate at least £45 to the charities being supported by this venture - The Stars Appeal Hospital Heroes and Action For Children. This donation went direct to the charities via Virgin Moneygiving and covered the shoot and inclusion into the book. Each family received a digital copy of the image(s) used in the book.
These unprecedented times caused severe economic pressure on many people. Some of the families involved in the project very generously made extra donations to enable those experiencing acute financial hardship to be part of the project, as it was important that this should be a diverse and inclusive representation of children from all backgrounds living in Salisbury, not just those who could afford it. These extra donations enabled many children to participate and one generous donor gifted not just a whole shoot but also one of the books to one such family.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
This project explored how the slower pace of lockdown may in some small part have shaped the course of their future for the better...
Explore some of the images and stories of the children involved in the project (names and ages have been removed for privacy).
This utterly charming young man has all the warm, engaging and resilient qualities of his mum and grannie with whom he shares a home. As much as they happily live together, laugh together and love together, they understood the importance of breathing space. Breathing space in a figurative sense from the inevitable pressures of living, schooling and working from home, together. Their allotment represented all of that and more to both him and his mum, where they enjoyed space to breath, space to observe, space to grow. As chief taste-tester, many a happy hour of quality time was spent here enabling his curious little personality to develop as he learnt all about the simple pleasures of growing (and eating!) fruit and vegetables....even if most of them never made it into the tub...
Photographed at Winterbourne Earls allotments
Children of NHS workers were dealt an especially tough hand during the crisis where their parents were under extreme pressure, looking after others in their time of need that often meant sacrificing a stable home life for their families. These two girl's mothers both worked demanding rotas at the hospital, so trying to solo-parent, work and find childcare when their usual support network wasn't available caused challenges for them all. Everything routine about the girls' lives was thrown into disorder; nights spent in strange beds with different families, no structure to their days and for one not seeing her dad or grandpa for months on end. They were united by having to deal with their little worlds being upended by an invisible enemy they could neither see nor understand, but they learnt resilience and adaptability, together.
Already great friends, their bond strengthened as it became obvious that the only familiar thing about their unfamiliar new lives was each other. Through the innocence of play, the reassurance of hugs and the joy of ballet, they found in each other not just a friend but a sister. Theirs is a dance of sisterhood that centres around an unshakeable core of support, unity and love in both good times and hard.
Photographed at home in Netherhampton
This is a very special little girl. All her little life she has been in and out of hospital, twice fighting for her life on a ventilator as she suffers from a rare genetic condition that severely compromises her immune system. Even the simplest common cold can be life-threatening. When COVID-19 arrived, her parents feared the virus could be her nemesis, but paradoxically isolating on their farm meant she had never been healthier and allowed everyone to take respite from their daily anxieties about bringing germs home from school, the next cold, the next emergency hospital admission.
As a tight family unit, she and her three brothers got stuck into lambing, helping on the farm, hatching chicks and importantly never taking their health for granted. This time in isolation gave her valuable space to grow, allowing her body to build strength and resilience for whatever may come her way. As a family they embody the belief of living for today - for tomorrow is promised to no-one and their determination to squeeze every last drop out of each day is a lesson to us all.
Photographed in Teffont
As a competitive swimmer with Salisbury Stingrays, dedicating endless hours to the water is part and parcel of daily life....early morning training and weekends spent travelling to swim meets around the country, all accompanied by a huge dose of dedication and sacrifice from the whole family. Lockdown meant an overnight shutdown to all of that. In part, that meant a welcome relief to the treadmill of training and a chance to slow down and just
But for this young lady at least, whilst the downtime was welcome, it crystallised to her just how much she missed the water. She relished her first time back in a pool, resembling a dolphin being returned to the wild, emanating undisguised pleasure as she flipped about in the water. And when it was time to get out again, it was clear that lockdown had been such a long stretch of time since her team onesie barely fit her anymore. When training finally resumed, doubtless she will have dived back into the water with a renewed enthusiasm and passion that only an enforced break could have engendered.
Photographed in Broad Chalke
Communities came together to show their support for NHS staff who selflessly gave their time, energy (and in some cases their lives) to provide all the care that was needed when the virus demanded it. It was stressful, exhausting and emotionally draining not just for the workers themselves, but for their families at home dealing with daily life without them. Along with the weekly clapping, messages of support for NHS workers brought cheer and a morale boost to those making the selfless sacrifices. This young man watched his mother, a nurse, go to work every day on the frontline and gained an understanding of what it means to look after other people in their time of need. He showed his support in the only way he could, spending hours drawing the now iconic NHS rainbows on the pavement outside his home so when Mum came home, despite many hours away from her family, she knew she had his full support. And just as communities came together in the time of crisis, families did too.
Photographed at home in Laverstock
Small people need constant stimulation. It's exhausting, coming up with new and creative ideas to stimulate their minds and expend their boundless energy. Getting outside for that one precious hour of exercise a day was a lifeline to all parents of young children during lockdown, but there was also the pressure to make it exciting. And so the adventurers of Twiggy Wood were born. To an adults eyes it's a small grouping of trees, only a few metres across with a few log seats and a slightly dilapidated rope swing. But to a small child, full of wonder, it was the most exciting place imaginable, full of possibilities to go Gruffalo hunting, bug catching, leaf collecting, sweetie finding, tree climbing and a whole myriad of other opportunities limited only to however creative mummy and daddy were feeling on a given day. This place became a destination, a delight, yet it was nothing more than a patch of ground and trees. It showed, just as so many other families discovered, that expensive noisy plastic toys were no match for returning to the simpler pleasures of life and the feeling of wellbeing just from being outdoors. Material versus natural pleasures? No doubt these two's discovery of Twiggy Wood will answer that question and those noisy plastic toys (a few of them at least) might be consigned to the storage cupboard to a sigh of relief from mummy and daddy.
Photographed at Warminster
Something we all crave more of and something that was given in abundance during lockdown. It was especially a gift to this heartwarming young man as the extra time he and his family had meant his learning of the Makaton language programme came on in leaps and bounds, from small simple words at the beginning of lockdown to sentences towards the end. Global Developmental Delay affects speech and language which undoubtedly has frustrations for the whole family, but 1:1 time with his mum, brother and dad allowed communication to flourish between them and enhance their already close relationships.
And all with a massive contagious smile on his face, because that's the joy he brings to everyone around him.
Photographed at Lime Kiln Way
Public gatherings, inside or out, were banned. Religious services were stopped (at least in person) and the Cathedral, normally full of the gentle hum of visitors and the haunting melodies of the organ and it's choristers, fell eerily silent when the doors shut. Singers weren't able to sing for fear of spreading the virus. The boys' and the girls' choirs have a very demanding rehearsal schedule around which their days are structured, both in school term and in holiday time, weekdays and weekends. Commitment to the choir is exacting, but the rewards and fulfilment more so. In the months before the first sung services were able to resume, the choristers rehearsed remotely via Zoom, but like other musicians up and down the country, there were no services or performances to give and nobody to sing to, leaving a big void in their lives. A silenced choir and a service without singing was dispiriting, especially at a time when worship was so important to so many people. Thankfully though, the walls of the Cathedral echo once more with the passion and commitment of the young choristers who were so eager to get back to doing what they loved, bringing joy to all those who hear them.
Photographed in Salisbury Cathedral with kind permission from The Dean and Chapter, and Salisbury Cathedral School
Just like every other sport, gymnastics was halted overnight and she really missed her gymnastics club. So she sought ways to carry on her training at home. Not only to keep her mental well-being balanced, but also to allow her to let off steam after being cooped up with school work. Gymnastics in the home is not usually a combination that would naturally fit together, but extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures. The kitchen table, the sofa, her parents bed all made ideal surfaces to balance on or throw herself off. Gratefully, no limbs or vases were broken and the gymnastics club, closed once again for lockdown part II, will be thankful to have its lively member back with renewed energy after a frustrating year.
Photographed at home in Salisbury
The daily ritual of prayer is a huge part of Muslim life, visiting the mosque several times a day. The pandemic naturally meant group gatherings in churches, mosques and other places of worship had to be halted. Bricks and mortar were no longer the mainstay of religious practice and like all people of faith, this brother and sister had to worship elsewhere. But they gained a deeper understanding of their faith - that it transcends the confines of a building or a book. It can exist in the air, the trees and the world all around them. Devotion to their faith can be shown anywhere, if not together with others in their mosque, then together with each other, facing Qaba, the centre of the world.
Photographed at Old Sarum
Let us call him Centurion Henricus. Dressing up is an important vehicle for youngsters to make sense of the world around them, processing their fears about situations they may not understand as well as reflecting their current interests. Lockdown was certainly a time for needing to make sense of a strange world and our little centurion spent much of the time attacking his confusions via his alter ego and a very large sword. It's no surprise then, that history is a strong theme of interest for both him and his brother and during lockdown they used their daily exercise allowance at one of Salisbury's most iconic landmark buildings, The Old Mill, where children have played in the water for hundreds of years.
Photographed at The Old Mill, Harnham
Youth charity, Rise:61, supports young people living in the Bemerton Heath area, and their Life group needed an initiative to give them something to get involved in as they began to emerge from a tougher than usual few months of not being able to get together in person.
They transformed a disused car-park into a beacon of colour, with murals of hope and thanks, importantly giving youngsters like this one something positive to get involved in and hold on to. In the wake of a very negative time, it spread an inspirational message to make their home an even better place to live in a post-lockdown world.
Photographed at Bemerton Heath, with thanks to Rise:61