Stories Life in Lockdown Its been just over a month now since the Health and Social Care confirmed its first case of Coronavirus in Northern Ireland. But how is the growing crisis effecting young people. Aodhán Roberts, a 17 years old studying Creative Media Production at North West Regional College explains... It’s very difficult to get precise information on how Coronavirus is affecting people because everyone and everything is being affected differently and particularly for people like me, being a young teenager studying a 2-year course in college and working a full-time job alongside that. When Coronavirus reached Northern Ireland, I understood that it would only be a matter of time before we went into lockdown, but like everyone, I had a great deal of uncertainly with what was going to happen, and we still don’t know what is going to happen. My workplace closed and I’m now a ‘furloughed worker.' My college campus has been closed and it really makes you wonder, how are my grades going to be affected? Yet still, we don’t have a clear answer. Students like me are panicking and teachers are trying their best to reassure us on the situation. My college, like many, has moved to online teaching. I am confident that I will be able to complete all my coursework by the end of the school term but of course, there is a lot of doubt for students in other courses. I do think that we shouldn’t be constantly glued to the news as this could have a huge impact on your mental health. I am spending the lockdown at home in Derry/Londonderry with just my brother. Thankfully I or my brother have no underlying health conditions that could make us more vulnerable to Coronavirus, however, just a few months ago in October 2019, my mother passed away after suffering from stage 4 cancer. If my mum was still alive today, I would be worried sick, in fact, I’d be absolutely petrified for her, for me and for my relatives. So many things could have just gone wrong. What if one of us contracted Coronavirus and passed it on? What if we had to live under new arrangements? What if we couldn’t see our mum? The list really goes on and it's scary to even think about, so I’m very thankful that I’m not in that situation. The government’s response to the Coronavirus situation has been good and bad in my opinion. We are now in a lockdown (but it took the Government way too long to execute it). They are paying our wages to an extent and putting strict measures in place to keep us at home. Medical staff need to be able to diagnose to get accurate statistics of how bad the problem really is, and in order to make plans and keep up with the demand. We need more personal protective equipment for our frontline staff. Nobody should have to go to work feeling scared and unprotected. I find myself doing things I’ve been putting off, I’ve been going out for walks often, I have been practising my photography, finding my love for cooking, catching up with old friends on social media Things are changing every day with the Coronavirus crisis and for all I know, what I’m writing now can be completely irrelevant in a weeks’ time. Personally, I am actively following the news, and I think everyone should, but always remember to stick to your reliable news sources or official advice from the likes of the Government of the Health Trust. I still think a lot of the good in communities should not go unnoticed. I have been avoiding social media sites such as Facebook for information on Coronavirus because there’s never any guarantee that things posted on there are true. I’ve seen some people and some pages posting misleading information to scaremonger and it’s absurd and very malicious. I do think that we shouldn’t be constantly glued to the news as this could have a huge impact on your mental health. I love to be diverse, socialising with friends and meeting new people, participating in many societies and groups. I’m used to working them 8-hour night shifts, but all of this changed and its strange times we’re living in. I recently started my diet, I find myself doing things I’ve been putting off, I’ve been going out for walks often, I have been practising my photography, finding my love for cooking, catching up with old friends on social media, I’ve been a lot more motivated to do coursework and participate in online classes. Of course, the lockdown also has its downsides. I really do miss seeing my friends every day, it makes you realise how much link and positive influence that they have on your overall life. At times I find myself very bored because of repetition and not keeping fully active all the time. I have been having trouble maintaining my sleeping pattern and it’s been having a big influence on how I feel. The Coronavirus crisis will most definitely contribute to many changes we have in the future, not only on ourselves but also as a society. It will change everybody’s entire perspective on how we view life in endless ways, such as showing that qualities and connections are more prime than fortune, showing that our workers are key to a great and maintained economy, and that age, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, religion, race or social status doesn’t matter. We are all the same. Written by Aodhán Roberts, 17 from Foyle Thank you to The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland for your continued support and for making stories like this possible.