Over the past few months, our Associates Team - all young people with lived experience of disabilities – have been sharing their experiences of how the pandemic has affected them. Eye Care Champion Grace also joined them in sharing her experiences of COVID in our blog ‘Coping through COVID-19’.

Now the lockdown has lifted, but the world is not as it was. Much has changed. Here Emily, Gabby, Grace and Greg share the impact the global pandemic has had on how they experience the world, what they did to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and how they feel about the future.

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Grace smiles at the camera, sat in a gardenGrace

I went home to live with my parents at the beginning of lockdown so I wouldn’t miss seeing them, but I really missed seeing my friends who I live with. I also struggled a great deal with not being able to see my sister. I was keeping in touch with video chat, but it’s not quite the same. The whole world was closed and I did feel quite cut off. Now we can see each other and go out, but the risk of another lockdown is really worrying as it could all change again.

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Greg zooms around an athletics track in his wheelchair, with a huge smile on his faceGreg

In normal times I like to go and watch different sports and see my family, who I am really close to – it affected my mental health not being able to do these things. Live sport in person is still off, but I’m glad to be able to see my family and friends. I did get into using video calls to stay in contact with my friends and family during lockdown, so that gives me hope that I won’t feel too isolated if there is another lockdown.

One thing I’ve learnt that I want to share with you is just to try and stay positive and keep busy! We’ll get through it!

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Gabby is in her bedroom, turning to smile at the cameraGabby

Like Grace, I also went home to live with my family. My Mum was great, supporting me and helping me to stay busy. Work really helped as well, as I could stay connected with my colleagues. I did really miss my care team and the fun we have together. I also really missed seeing my extended family. It’s still difficult with the rule of 6 and worry of another lockdown in the future, but we are looking ahead and looking forward to a big family party we’re planning at the beach to celebrate the end of lockdowns and the pandemic, whenever that is!

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Emily smiles at the camera sat in her gardenEmily

When I’m out with my friends I don’t feel like I’m disabled. I love being outside as it gives me a chance to meet other people in my community, make new friends and meet up with old friends for a catch up. With the lockdown, all that changed.

I tried to stay connected with my friends and family, but I found it really tough that I could only email or phone them rather than seeing them face to face.

Now we can go out again, but it’s still not the same as it was. When I go out with my friends, it’s difficult to social distance because it just doesn't feel normal to keep your distance from your friends. I also can’t see how far 2 metres is because of my visual impairment. My friends like to hug – that's what we do and we've been missing that as much as anything else. I can’t wait for things to get back to normal.

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Click here for Gabby’s top tips on staying busy and keeping fit

Click here to read Emily’s top tips on social distancing with a visual impairment

Click here to read more from Emily, Gabby, Grace and Greg in their blog Coping through COVID-19

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