Zooming in the Pandemic

At Healthwatch Essex we work hard to capture your experiences of health and social care, to help shape change and improvement. This year has been an unusual one, stopping us from being face-to-face with the public in many of the ways we are used to, but it has remained important to us to continue to capture what life has been like for people across Essex.

Sam with her guide dog Winston

Through surveys we have helped to understand how services have changed for you, what has been positive about those changes and the things that have become more challenging. We have also been capturing video calls in our project called ‘Zooming in the Pandemic’ to understand in a more qualitative way, what life has been like for people in the county.

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance during the pandemic

Today we are launching nine of these films, which focus on individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, from Laurie who has been flying with the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance during the pandemic, through to Sam who is blind and has been living in a hotel while attempting to shield throughout the pandemic. They cover topics as diverse at young people’s mental health, homelessness, bereavement, brain injury, refugees and veterans.

The full range of films can be accessed here and give a unique insight into life at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Essex.

Zooming in The Pandemic

As the country went into lockdown due to COVID-19, Healthwatch Essex started to capture the experience of the people of Essex from a distance. This series of short films of life during the pandemic, captured over Zoom, highlight the ways in which life changed in 2020 across Essex. Descirptions of the films cans be found at the bottom of the page. 

Sam’s Story

Sam is blind and had a double organ transplant five years ago. She was living in a hotel because of an insurance claim following a water leak in her home when the pandemic struck. Her husband subsequently caught COVID-19. In this moving film, she describes the challenges she has experienced during the pandemic.

Chloe’s Story

Chloe is 10 and lives with her sister and parents in Harlow. She has struggled with her mental health in the past and, in this film, tells her story of accessing services and how life has been for her during the lockdown caused by COVID-19.

Laurie’s Story

Laurie is a Clinical Manager at Essex & Herts Air Ambulance. He talks about what life has been like flying across the county to save lives during the height of the pandemic.

Louise’s Story

Louise was living with her family in Brentwood when COVID-19 spread across the UK. Her grandmother died during lockdown and she talks about her experience of a socially-distanced funeral with just her closest family members.

Paul’s Story

Paul is an Army veteran living in Essex. Medically-retired after being seriously injured in Afghanistan in 2009, he has spent his time helping vulnerable veterans across the county during the pandemic.

Maria’s Story

Maria is a Senior Caseworker at Refugee Action in Colchester. She has been working with asylum seekers and refugees in the town during the pandemic and explains some of the significant challenges they have faced.

Corban’s Story

Corban found himself homeless in the lead up to the pandemic, following a relationship breakdown. He talks about his time in living in supported housing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Clare’s Story

Clare runs a company which encourages people to talk more openly about death, dying and bereavement. She contracted suspected COVID-19 and lost a close family friend to the illness. She talks about how lockdown has been for her and the challenges of not being able to see, or be close to, her terminally ill brother.

Michael’s Story

Michael lives with a brain injury following surgery to remove a brain tumour several years ago. He was hospitalised just before COVID-19 reached the UK and talks about his experience of living alone, following surgery, during lockdown.

Would you like to share your story with us? Get in touch in lots of different ways here