‘Full’ Lockdown began on March 23rd although people had started to voluntarily keep themselves safe before. Schools, restaurants, building suppliers. Carpet fitters, and virtually all other trades people, barbers, coffee shops. Phone shops. all fast food franchises, cafes. Dentists, estate agents, libraries. Sporting events like football and rugby and most anything recreational like cinemas and theme parks gone. Marketplaces, creches, bookshops are all shut. Banks and civil services are open only on a limited basis. Most other types of businesses and places of employment have all closed their doors for now. The situation is fluid. There are nightly updates such as the slightly confusing one of the Prime Minister in the month of May 2020.
These unprecedented actions/re-actions feel so extreme, we could never have predicted the world we inhabit just 5 months ago.
Leaving the virus itself to one side for one moment. The consequences of the lockdown, and its aftereffects have reverberated out from lawmakers through society its structures and institutions all the way into the homes of the nation’s residents. Those working with vulnerable adults and their many complex ways, behaviours and needs are trying to streamline those services. With the social distancing and the enforced isolation, they are having to pinpoint and work out how best to use the limited time and contact with users of all types of services. Organisations that deal with the homeless. Substance use services. Food banks. Suicidal ideation hotlines, to name just a few have had to adjust and come up with new innovative ways to effectively use their drastically decreased time and quality of contact, yet hopefully maintaining the benefits.
I worry that no matter how much the humanity care services bend and flex to accommodate daily new rules, things will become more complicated. The negative impact on the family unit and the strain on their healthcare and mental wellbeing, even some’s physical safety is at risk the longer lockdown is in action.
Take domestic abuse for instance:
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), between March 2018 and March 2019 in England and wales, an estimated 2.4 million adults aged between 16 and 74 experienced some type of domestic abuse (1.6m women and 786.000 men). As you know the forms of domestic abuse include physical, psychological, sexual, emotional and financial.
A paper entitled “Domestic abuse and the criminal justice system; domestic abuse in England and Wales an overview” published November 2019 by the ONS, found that in the year ending March 2019 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services [HMICFRS] database logged 183.668 child protection referrals. Although there is a caveat in the footnotes that multiple referrals can be made for each individual case. It is acknowledged that it is very hard to get any reliable figures concerning domestic abuse in the home specifically regarding the young.
Domestic abuse charity Safe Lives published a report entitled Safe Young Lives, about the effects of domestic abuse on young people.
In it they recorded ‘Our data shows that young people, including those below 16, can experience all forms of domestic abuse, and the likelihood of experiencing high severity abuse is no different to adults. Indeed, the data suggests the levels of high severity abuse may be the highest for the youngest age group.’
Refuge, the largest domestic abuse charity in the UK, after lockdown reported a 700% increase in calls in just one day. A separate organisation that helps perpetrators of domestic abuse deal with their behaviours reported a 25% increase in their helpline since the start of lockdown, as reported in the Guardian online .9 April 2020. Staggering statistics that I imagine are still the very tip of a very large iceberg.
Other knock on effects:
The pressures of household adults not working and their regular incomes in jeopardy. The struggles with rent, mortgages and council taxes. Dilemmas of shopping for essentials, (or for that matter what the nature of the word ‘essential’ even means anymore). Petrol in the car? The children off school for the foreseeable future, everyone cooped up together with no real end in sight. The bleakness of the news, the calculated dead increasing or decreasing in relation to where one gets their news from. Guardians struggling to protect their adolescents from the apocalyptic movies that plague the TV at the moment. Keeping the young from the news and social media, where as well as clapping the NHS people are venomously screeching and blaming this all on foreigners, the military. The rich, the poor. The Americans, the Russians. Trump. Blaming future deaths on neighbours who are going out for the permitted one hour daily exercise walks – or as much exercise as you want now! Fear of 5G broadband. Fear of heavy handed police. Fear of losing your loved ones and fear of who to trust or who turn to. The fear that no information is reliable ….. and on and on.
Question: How is one supposed to keep those we love and care for safe from all this, if these are the only systems of contact, community, recreation and information available – left to them?
The most vulnerable of us, such as people with issues like domestic violence and abuse, but also Self harm. Alcoholism, Substance misuse and mental illnesses such as depression and suicidal thoughts are going to need help during this lockdown, but also afterwards. Yet these are just the thin edge of the wedge when it comes to the fallout from lockdown. The collapse of the family income for one will lead to relatively psychologically ‘stable’ people to be pushed or pulled into crisis too. You don’t need much of an imagination to picture a snowball rolling downhill effect this lockdown will have in England. The UK at large. Europe, North America and Canada. Australia to the middle and far East. China itself. The world and all who inhabit it. The sooner we re-open society again the better.
The death toll is catalogued and grimly added up nightly. Yet the true cost of implementing the drastic measure of involuntary quarantining whole populations will take a long time to come to light. That’s if it ever truly does. I doubt it.
What the full fall out is or will be regarding this most unprecedented situation is anyone’s guess, including the scientific community. The only assurance we seem to have is that nothing will be the same again. Other than that…….
No one knows.