February 2020 was the last month with a degree of normality in the United Kingdom. A year on we look back on how dramatically our lives changed – and what to hope for by February 2022.

12th February 2020.

The national headlines report the risk of flooding for one in 10 British homes and criticism of the Home Secretary’s points system for immigrants. There’s very little coverage of coronavirus, other than speculatory commentary on stockpiling of hand sanitizers.

A year later national and international news has become dominated by the effects of coronavirus, statistics, and restrictions.

Today, the Office of National Statistics reported  “the largest annual fall in UK GDP on record” – a 9.9% decline in 2020; a lot has changed in the last 365 days.

UK GDP decline - Source: Office of National Statistics
UK GDP decline – Source: Office of National Statistics

It’s easy to forget what daily life felt like before face masks, furlough, and friend limits became common terms.

Here’s a snapshot of what life looked like last year for five very different members of the public.

Carol – Musician and teacher

Carol performed various gigs around the country and enjoyed times with friends last Feburary. She was also one step ahead of the game, already utilizing online platforms to deliver her music teaching to students across the world.

Jessica – Student Nurse

Jessica is a second-year general nursing student from Yorkshire. Working and studying an already very intense degree, she reflects on the difference between February 2020 and the current year.

Q) What was a typical week like for you in February 2020?

“I was very preoccupied with my degree and attending placement, which was something I was really enjoying. I had a good social life so I would say I was feeling really happy and energetic. I was working in the community as a first-year student nurse. I loved it and felt excited to see where my following placements would progress to. I had an active social life with going out with friends and I enjoyed going to the gym regularly.”

“When comparing it to last year it is quite upsetting to see what a difference it has made.” – Jessica – Student Nurse

Q) What is life like for you right now?

“Online uni lectures, going for a daily walk to get outside. When comparing it to last year it is quite upsetting to see what a difference it has made. I am starting to struggle with the mental side of coping with life at the moment, as I’m sure a lot of others are. On a personal level, I would love to be able to enjoy my degree in person, be able to enjoy ‘normal’ placement areas rather than COVID wards.”

Russell – Young Adult with Asperger’s Syndrome

Russell is a 21-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome. He explains how being in a work-based skills college helped him last year, and how the lack of support and employment help during the pandemic has impacted him. Many young people with additional needs have found that they’ve slipped through the net this year.

 

Nicole – Civil Servant

Nicole in Thailand Feb 2020

Q) What were you doing in February 2020?

“I felt amazing this time last year. We had just done the full moon party in Thailand and had met some amazing friends who we went to the next Thai island with. The food was absolutely delicious in southern Thailand too so it felt bliss, being in the sun with good food and having a bit of rest before heading over to Bangkok (which we were told would be hectic). Life was carefree.”

Q) What does life look like for you right now?

“I have been working this week which I have really enjoyed. I hated remote working at first so actually liking my day to day job feels so nice at the moment. Although it isn’t the freedom of a Thai beach, the satisfaction in feeling with my work now compared to a few weeks ago has mentally helped me. I’m not seeing any friends which has always been what’s kept me going. I am walking my puppy a lot though which I’m really grateful for. For the first time in my life, I have a routine and I’m enjoying it! No late nights out partying and hence a proper sleeping routine. I basically feel like I was a low level of depression for the entire pandemic until this lockdown but I’m finally accepting life and living again?”

Caitlin – Trainee Paramedic

Caitlin finished her college access course during the lockdown and is in her first year studying Paramedic Science at university. She explains the stark contrast between this year and last year.

 

As of today, there have been 160 million doses of COVID-19 vaccinations given worldwide. The United Kingdom is working on improving access to vaccines throughout the country and aiming to work to targets.

For many, this is hope that the next February can be as close to normality as the last.