Ruby Ingleheart gives us an intimate window into her grandmother's new life after the implementation of government restrictions as she attempts to forge a new daily routine.
On the 23rd March 2020, the UK government instructed lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Those over 70, classed as ‘clinically vulnerable’, were told to self-isolate until further notice.
The lack of clarity as to how long this may go on for left many feeling frustrated at the government’s dismissive attitude toward a generation that already feel overlooked. Fearing a shut them away’ type approach which many feared would lead to increased feelings of loneliness and wavering mental health.
For my grandmother, Jen, now in her 80s, and many other elderly people living in Mount Hawke in Cornwall, seeing friends, going to church, attending the coffee morning and hopping on the bus to Morrisons on a Thursday provided routine, brought them joy, and gave them a sense of purpose. Simple yet vital expressions of autonomy that have now been taken from them.
Within A Mile follows my grandmother during lockdown on her daily walk around the block as she defies, in her own way, what it means to be ‘clinically vulnerable’.
Despite government restrictions, Jen is determined to socialise and stay engaged with her community and friends around her. Like many, she has had to adapt to a much smaller, localised environment, and through restricting this to a mile radius, she becomes more attuned to her surroundings; taking great pleasure in observing things previously overlooked, whether it be watching a bird, looking for spiders out of the ends of drainpipes or the light and wind dancing over a field.
This became apparent, when following my grandma and the other residents, that's the idea of contracting the virus is less daunting than the prospect of feeling completely isolated.
‘I don’t care about the virus’, said a woman as she stepped out of her front door to greet Jen with open arms, ‘I need to hug your grandmother’. This brings to light our instinctive desire and need, as humans, to touch and be in each other’s company.