NEIGHBOURS have recorded their experiences of lockdown in an audio archive for future generations.

The stories of people living in St Leonards Road, Hove, from students to pensioners, have been collected as part of a project called “A street in lockdown”.

The archive and podcast is the brainchild of former BBC journalist Jane Vickers, who said she wanted to capture an extraordinary moment on tape.

When the coronavirus restrictions were imposed earlier this year, she posted on a Facebook page for people in the road, asking them to record their feelings under lockdown.

The Argus:

Neighbours spoke of their concerns for loved ones, struggling to get groceries, taking up new hobbies and their hopes for the future.

Among them was midwife Laura McLaren. The 35 year-old lives in the street with her husband and 22-month-old son.

She said her job had become exceptionally hard under lockdown, as ward staff had to reduce the contact they and visitors had with women and their families.

She said staff had been trying to help as much as they could as women go through an “experience they’ll remember for rest of lives” against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis.

The Argus:

“A lot of things have been taken away from them and there’s a sadness to that,” she said.

“It’s important we remember that they’re perfectly entitled to feel it’s not fair not being able to have their partner there when they see their baby for first time on the scan, or not being able to have your baby shower, or not being able to introduce newborn baby to your parents.

“Those things are really important and women have had them taken away.

“We can’t do anything about that as midwives – all we can do is just keep connecting with them as much as we can.”

Laura spoke of the difficulties midwives had faced. She said: “You’re fighting these battles to reassure women, but at the same time we don’t have much more knowledge about the disease than the rest of the public and it’s hard to reassure with that kind of backdrop.”

One of the hardest things for Laura was the physical barrier of personal protective equipment. She said: “One of the things about the masks is you can’t see someone smiling.

“As a midwife, often women say ‘I was in the throes of labour and I was really scared – and I looked at my midwife standing in the corner and she was smiling, so I thought everything must be OK’.

“Without being able to see us smile and give that reassurance, it’s hard both ways – it’s hard as a midwife and it’s hard for the women.”

The Argus:

The oldest person to speak on tape was 82-year-old Kathy Watson.

She said it was “surreal” when lockdown was imposed.

“I was a bit hesitant about taking it seriously,” she said. “I thought – no, we’re not going to be locked up. I was still getting on the bus until they said you should stay at home.”

She said that though elderly people had been told to remain in isolation at home to protect themselves from the virus, she had managed to keep positive.

“I haven’t felt down,” she said. “Before coronavirus hit us I was home only for about an hour during the day. My life was very busy.”

Kathy, who used to go out shopping, meet friends, visit the theatre, and volunteer at a charity shop, has since found other ways to pass the time.

She has been gardening, growing carrots and cabbages, decorating the house, painting furniture and drinking a lot of coffee.

“I seem to have found something to do every day,” she said. “Why hurry?” she said. “Just take things easy.”

Jane said: “Everyone involved has been acutely aware that we are experiencing a unique moment in history.

“The recordings are so powerful because they represent the experiences of people living in a tiny corner of the world, but the themes are universal.

“It’s also great to hear people talk about local places and landmarks which makes the podcast unique to Brighton and Hove.”

When complete, a digital copy of the recordings will be donated to The Keep, Brighton’s historical archive. To listen to the recordings, visit astreetinlockdown.co.uk or search for the podcast “A street in lockdown” on iTunes.