Conversations with Aldershot

I an intimate archive of lockdown from our town

II Conversations with Aldershot Group Zoommeeting, 2021 Dear Readers The seeds for Conversations with Aldershot began in 2019. I wanted tomake work about the lives and challenges of women, about ordinary experiences that may not be heard. I didn’t want to work in archives or art galleries, I wanted to speak to people. So I began working with artists, and local women, here in Aldershot and further afield to see if by collaborating with artists AND local women, we can increase access to art and to the ‘art world’. As Aldershot is often little noticed in the wider world, I also wanted to find a way for our voices to be heard. Then… along came the pandemic. We were locked away. Hidden evenmore. Beautiful things started happening as well as absolutely awful things. I noticed other towns were recording this in some way and wondered what we could do here. In the summer of 2020 I approached a local friend Candice Camacho to work withme, and applied for a grant fromArts Council England. Our plan was tomake work with local residents to look at our experiences and create artistic responses as well as thinking about ideas around how to reduce barriers to art. This was to be co-creation. Each of us making something and working together to make work too. During lockdown of winter 2020–2021 a group of 7 women led by myself and Candice met weekly on zoom for over 3months.

Conversations with Aldershot Group DEBBIE NOBBS Debbie lives in Aldershot with her husband Craig and their 2 cats. During her time working with the group, she has expressed her thoughts and feelings of lockdown through poetry. SAMEEA JONNUD Sameea is a Londoner who has lived in Aldershot for many years. A blogger with interests in history and community she joined the collaboration group as a way of listening to a diverse range of voices and recording them for the future. She has liaised with local Ahmadiyya Muslims to collect their stories, and updates the project Twitter account. CANDICE CAMACHO Candice was the community facilitator for the project throughout 2020 and 2021. She supported Susan to connect with the local residents and to work with the collaboration group. Candice has a passion for women’s rights which is evident in her film and voice work that she has produced during the project. Candice has lived in Aldershot both as a teenager and as an adult with her family, including throughout the pandemic. She now lives in Spain with her husband and two children. ASIA MAHMOOD Asia loves to read and has an avid interest in textile arts and cooking with her hubby. She works for the Red Cross within refugee services and through the project she has started to see art wherever she looks! DAISY EDWARDS Daisy took part in the project to hear other people’s stories about lockdown and to share experiences. She is currently working at a 6th form college and studying for a PGCE. She lives locally with her husband and children. MELANIE CHIWERA Mel lives with her daughter and a pug called Leila. She is a volunteer at the Aldershot and Fleet Rugby Club and will try to get anyone she meets to go and join! SUSAN MERRICK Susan is the lead artist for the project. She is an artist and BSL/English interpreter passionate about access to art and letting conversations lead her art practice – hence the name of the project! Susan has been awarded five grants from Arts Council England since 2017, she has an MA in Fine Art, has exhibited and performed internationally and hosts a podcast called Woman Up! which she makes with Amy Dignam.

5 4 Letter fromHannah to Imelia, aged 9, March 2020 Introduction Has there ever been an event which touched the lives of everyone around the world in some way? The COVID-19 pandemic certainly did. Reports of the ‘Coronavirus’ began in Autumn 2019, centred around Wuhan, China; when it spread rapidly and appeared in other countries, a global pandemic was announced and here in the UK, after days of panic buying leading to empty supermarket shelves, by the end of March 2020, we had gone into lockdown. Only essential businesses, and schools for the children of key workers, remained open; the rest of the country locked down and began to work and study from home, only leaving to exercise or shop. A collective situation of this sort produced collective experiences; internet speed problems, shortage of flour, fear of the unknown, and complete separation of families and friends. It was also full of individual feelings and experiences as all of us continued our lives through lockdown. Over the next two years the grip of COVID-19 would rise and fall in waves, with parts of Aldershot being among the hardest hit in the UK, and lockdown restrictions would be strengthened or weakened accordingly until they were lifted completely. What was this period like for ordinary people? The Conversations with Aldershot project began in Autumn 2020 with Susan Merrick and Candice Camacho and developed into a project collecting lockdown experiences. The first phase saw a group of Aldershot women from diverse backgrounds join together to share their stories and explore visual arts through a series of Zoom calls; this culminated in an exhibition at the West End Centre in September 2021, in which these lockdown experiences were showcased through photography, poetry and film. The second phase of the project saw the group hold a series of engagement sessions across 2022 to collect the thoughts, both

7 6 positive and negative, and feelings of people across Aldershot.* Events were held in North town, Aldershot Park, the Town Centre, Princes Gardens, Aldershot Lido, Picnic and Pop festival, Westival, the Cambridge School and more! Interviews took place with the Ahmadyyia Muslim Youth Association and the Ghurka Welfare Trust. These responses, along with the art work of the group members, form an archive of lockdown and the project, which are shared here in this book, online, in exhibitions and as a physical archive held at the Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths University. This publication is one piece of this archive. A sample of thoughts from what has been shared, as a record of the people of Aldershot and their experiences during lockdown. Conversations with Aldershot is Susan Merrick, Candice Camacho, Asia Mahmood, Sameea Jonnud, Deborah Nobbs, Melanie Chiwera and Daisy Edwards. Sameea Jonnud CWA Collaboration Group *All quotes from online survey have been left as they were received This publication is only one part of the whole Conversations with Aldershot lockdown archive. You can find other elements to the archive on our youtube channel: UC4tObV56ktAfSqYNhvHU8XQ The physical and digital elements of the archive will also be added to the Women’s Art Library in the Special Collections of the Goldsmith’s University Library, London. A digital version of this publication will also be made available to view on the following website: परिचय के कुनै यस्तो घटना भएक छ जसले संसारभरिका सबैक जीवनलाई कुनै न कुनै तरिकाले छ एक छ? क भिड–१९ क महामारीले पक्क पनि गरेक थिय । ‘कोरो ना भाइरस’ क पहिल समाचार सन् २०१९ क शरद ऋतुमा सुरु भएक थिय , जुन चीनक वुहानमा केन्द्रित थिय । जब य तीव्र गतिमा फै य र अन्य देशहरूमा देखा परयो, विश्वव्यपी महामारीक घ षणा गरिय र यहाँ यूकेमा, आतंकित खरीदपछि खाली सुपरमारके ट शेल्फहरू, मार् २०२० क अन्त्यसम्ममा, हामी लकडाउनमा गइसकेका थियौं। अत्यवश्यकव्वसायहरू र प्रमुख कामदारहरूका छ ाछ ीका ला गि विद्यलयहरू मात्र खुला रहे; देशक बाँकी भाग लक डाउन भय र घरबाट काम गर् र अध्ययन गर् थाले, केवल व्ययाम वा किनमेल गर् छ डेर। यस प्रकारक सामूहिक परिस्थितिले सामूहिक अनुभवहरू उत्पन्न गरयो; इन्टरनेट गति समस्यहरू, पीठ क कमी, ै ज्ञतक डर, र परिवार र साथीहरूक पूर् पृथक्कण। य व्यतिगत भावना र अनुभवले भरिएक थिय किनकि हामी सबैले लकडाउनक माध्यमबाट हाम्रो जीवन जारी राख्ययौ। आगामी दुई वर्मा क भिड–१९ क चपेटा बढ््द जानेछ र लहरहरूमा झर्छ, अल्डरसटका केही भागहरू यूकेमा सबैभन्द बढी प्रभा वित हुनेछन्, र लकडाउन प्रतिबन्धहरू पूर् रूपमा नहटेसम्म तदनुसार कडा वा कमज बनाइनेछ। आम मा निसका ला गि य समय कस्तो थिय ? अल्डरसट परिय जनासँग वार््लाप पहिल पटक शरद ऋतु 2019 मा सुसान मेरिक र क्य ान्डिस कामाच क साथ सुरु भय र लकडाउन अनुभवहरू सङ्कलन गर् परिय जनाक रूपमा विकसित भय । पहिल चरणमा विभिन्न पृष्ठभूमिका अल्डरसट महिलाहरूक एक समूह एकसाथ सामेल भएक थिय र जुम कलहरूक एक श््र खलामार्त उनीहरूक कथाहरू साझा गर् र दृश्य कलाहरूक अन्व षण गरेक थिय ; यसक समापन सेप्ट म्बर २०२१ मा वेस्ट इन् सेन्टरमा एक प्रदर्नीमा भएक थिय , जसमा यी लकडाउनका अनुभवहरू फ ट ग्रफी, कविता र फिल्मक माध्यमबाट प्रदर्न गरिएक थिय । परिय जनाक द स्रो चरणमा समूहले सकारात्मक र नकारात्मक दुवै विचारहरू र अल्डरसटभरिका मा निसहरूक भावनाहरू सङ्कलन गर्

9 8 संलग्नता सत्रहरूक एक श््र खला आय जना गरेक दे । यसमा महिला र पुरुष, शहरका विभिन्न भागहरूमा आगन्त कहरू र नेपाली र मुस्लिम समुदायहरूक संग्ह समावेश थिय । यी समूहका सदस्हरूक कामसँगै अल्डरसटका जनता र लकडाउनक समयमा उनीहरूका अनुभवहरूक रेकर् बनाउन द स्रो प्रदर्नी, अनलाइन र यस प्रकाशनमा साझा गरिएक छ। अल्डरसटसँग कुराकानी सुसान मेरिक, क्य ान्डिसक्यमाच , आसिया महमुद, सा मिया ज नुड, डेब ा न ब्स, मेलानी चिवेरा र डेजी एडवर्डड् हुन्। – सा मिया ज नूद, सीडब्ल्ए सहय ग समूह What would lockdown be, as a colour, as a texture?

11 10

13 12 It’s been a nightmare. Had baby in middle of April, was basically left on your own no support. Very stressful trying to bring up a new born on your own while your other kids are home always saying I’m bored can we do something or go somewhere. They just kids and dont really understand the whole pandemic. They know it’s a nasty virus killing people. Anon, 2020 A rollar coaster of emotions. Fear, worry, Joy, laughter, To be honest I absolutely loved having my children home with me for such a long time we really bonded as a family. My partner was made redundant during this time which was stressful and worrying at the time but he found another job so worked out in the end. Chloe, 2020 Lockdown has been not a very good thing for us, but has unimaginably changed our lifestyle. It taught us what community means to us. Rohit Gurung, 2021 Online survey, 2020/ 2021

14 I think this lockdown is doomed to fail, the elephant in the room is being ignored. Why close places down and put jobs at risk, when the places where the virus is rampant, schools and universities remain open? Anon, 2020 It has been the strangest part of my life so far. I would not say it’s affected me in a negative way but times are very strange. I miss certain things such as meeting friends in a cafe, at their or my home and our children playing together. Face masks have become a part of normality now but I do hope we will soon be able to do without them, even if they do have their benefits such as not having to smile all the time ha. Aidan Nitram, 2021 Finding work was very difficult and I got behind with bills. I finally started a cleaning job last week (12th jan) (which is not a job I would normally take). I feel the financial aspect of being in lockdown with no job has massively affected my mental health and it’s going to take me months to get back on top of my bills. Nicola, 2021 Online survey, 2020/ 2021 Mel’s notebook from the zoom sessions, Jan–May 2021

17 16 I live alone withmy daughter so for me it (the project sessions) became something I really look forward to knowing that there was a group of adults, that we could be really honest about the way that we felt. In the beginning (of the project) I think the group were all a little bit guarded. Thinking ‘what do we think the answer should be’, ‘are we supposed to be really happy about it or um is it okay that we’re really sad about it’? and I think as it went on people became their authentic self and said exactly how it felt for them for me personally. I loved it. That’s not to say that there weren’t challenges, but the most important thing for the project for me was the fact that I’mnot very artistic and so to be able to have these other artists come in, it was really cool to learn about the work that they naturally do and to try and get a foot in that door almost and be able to learn how to turn an experience into a tangible thing was really precious tome. Melanie Chiwera CWA Collaboration group

19 18 I have learnt that human contact can never been replaced. Anon, 2021 For me it was fear, I switched off my TV I stayed in the house afraid to go out incase I was going to be infected. I started writing a book and this took my mind off the TV and all news. I wanted to live a book of my life story although I was not sure I was going to come out of this quagmire I just kept on writing. I called my book (The Super Power Of The Girl Child) Now being sold on Amazon. Katie M, 2022 Nursing my partner through the early months of lockdown and not even my Son allowed to visit. No hugs from anyone. Then trying to plan a funeral over the telephone, Partners daughter lives in America so she could not attend her Dad’s funeral. – Limited number at funeral and all had to sit 6 foot apart, no hugs during funeral... Horrible horrible experience which I still have nightmares about. Anon, 2020 Online survey, 2020/ 2021

21 20 I think the financial support has been good – but there should be a department set up to help those people who have fallen through the cracks Anon, 2020 I wish the rules were clearer and people just stuck to the rules. 1918 Spanish flu had 4 peaks let’s not let this happen now Nik Maton, 2020 I think it’s been incredibly to see our community come together. Lots of volunteering and generosity of spirit as well as funding to help others. Aldershot needs to carry this on if we can. Ensuring we look after the vulnerable. Anon, 2020 I got to understand the power of prayers better Dure-Ajum Ahmad, 2020 Online survey, 2020/ 2021 The pandemic has touched all our lives and, as part of Conversations with Aldershot, I found collecting different experiences of this universal event such a unique idea. I was especially interested that opportunity would be given to people whose voices may not always be heard. We started the project during lockdown and over the two years have seen life get pretty much back to normal. The CWA group has been important tome during that time as a regular part of my life, through highs and lows, sharing our perspectives on everything happening. I don’t consider myself a natural in art as I’mmore comfortable writing. But with such a supportive group and help from guest artists, I’ve foundmyself learning and getting out of my comfort zone to produce sound pieces with film and poetry. Hearing different viewpoints fromaround Aldershot has been a privilege, as has collecting them together, and I really hope people continue to learn how lockdown was for others. It’s good to know the project is becoming a permanent record of the thoughts and stories of the people of our increasingly diverse town, turning into a lovely legacy for future generations. Sameea Jonnud CWA Collaboration Group

नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022 DHAN BAHADUR RAI “It has been very difficult. We have suffered a lot. My wife was not well. She was in the hospital. My wife had instructedme from the hospital to say that I should take food on time, take medicine on time, have plenty of water, sleep on time. I had a very good neighbour. His name was HookamSingh Gurung. My wife had instructed him to get me shopping, whatever goods I wanted he used to bring it, put aside on my door. She was brought back to home. She was given nineteen different types of tablets. My wife was still trying to instruct me how to get protected, but she passed away on 27th January. I was supposed to be back to home but she said to stay for a little while. I stayed but in the night time at 6 o’clock I came [home]. And the following day at 8 o’clock she passed away. I got the message. I went there and I just saw a body lying on the bed. Since 1968 they got married together. 27th January 2021. Her name is Balcor Mari Rai.” नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022 अन्तर्ववार १: धनबहादुर राई “य धेरै गाह्रो भएक छ। हामीले धेरै दुःख भ गेका छौं। मेरी श्रमतीक स्वस्थ्यठीक थिएन । उनी अस्पतालमा थिइन् । मेरी श्रमतीले अस्पतालबाट मलाई समयमै खाना खानुपर्, समयमा औषधि खानुपर्, प्रशस् पानी खानुपर्, समयमै सुत्न पर् भनेर निर्शन दिएकी थिइन् । मेर धेरै राम्रो छिमेकी थिय । उनक नाम हुकमसिंह गुरुङ थिय । मेरी श्रमतीले उनलाई मलाई किनमेल गर् निर्शन दिएकी थिइन्, मैले चाहेक सामान उनलेल्यउँथे, मे ढ कामा रा खिदिन्थ । उनलाई घर फर््इय । तिनलाई उन्नाइस प्रकारका विभिन्न प्रकारका ट्यब्ल टहरू दिइय मेरी श्रमती अझै पनि मलाई कसरी सुरकषित राख्न भनेर सिकाउने प्रयास गरिरहेकी थिइन्, तर जनवरी २७ मा उनक मृत्य भय । म घर फर्नुपर् थिय तर उनले केही समय बस्न भनिन्। म बसे तर रातक ६ बजे म [घर] आएँ। र अर्क दिन ८ बजे उनक मृत्य भय । मैलेम्यसेज पाएँ । म त्हाँ गएँ र मैलेओछ्यनमा एउटा शव सुतेक देखे। सन् १९६८ देखि उनीहरुले सँगै विवाह गरे । 27 जनवरी 2021 उनक नाम बाल कुमारी राई ह ”

Fragile 2021 FilmStill SusanMerrick, Candice Camacho and the CWA Group

DIL BAHADUR HARBUJA PUN “I have never seen this type of pandemic inmy lifetime so this was quite shocking. The most difficult thing was nobody could come to us and then we couldn’t go to any other people’s houses. [Coming out of covid] made our life just beautiful, very nice, because we could see people, we could see our own people also, we could go to others place, others could come to our place.” BEL BAHADUR GURUNG “We thought it would go. But then it was quite fearsome. That it would kill us even. We were afraid. We used to look for solutions…My friends are in UAE... From themwe used to know that hot water was good and then little later we came to know turmeric water was better. This was on phone and hearsay only, that was the information we used to get.” नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022 अन्तर्ववार २: दिलबहादुर हरबुजा पुन “मैलेआफ्नो जीवनकालमा यस प्रकारक महामारी कहिल्य देखेक थिइनँ, त्सैले य निकैस्ब्ध पार् खालक थिय । सबैभन्द गाह्रो कुरा के थिय भने क ही पनि हामीकहाँ आउन सक्द नथे र त्सपछि हामी अरू क ही पनि व्यतिक घरमा जान सक्द नथ्ययौ। (क भिडबाट बा हिर निस्क े] हाम्रो जीवन सुन्द, धेरै राम्रो बनाय , किनकि हामी मा निसहरूलाई देख् सक्थथ्ययौ, हामी आफ्न मा निसहरूलाई पनि देख् सक्थथ्ययौ, हामी अरू ठाउँमा जान सक्थथ्ययौ, अरूहरू हाम्रो ठाउँमा आउन सक्थ ।” अन्तर्ववार ३: बेलबहादुर गुरुङ “हामीले स चेका थियौँ कि य जान्छ। तर त्सपछि य एकदम डरलाग्दो थिय । कि यसले हामीलाई पनि मार्छ। हामी डराएका थियौं। हामी समाधान ख ज्थथ्ययौ। मेरा साथीहरू संयुक् अरब इमिरेट्समा छन् । उनीहरूबाट हामीले थाहा पाउँथ्ययौ कि तात पानी राम्रो छ र त्सपछि केही समयपछि हामीलाई थाहा भय कि बेसारक पानी राम्रो छ। य फ नमा र सुनेक मात्र थिय , हामीले यही जानकारी पाउँथ्ययौ।” नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022

28 Melanie Chiwera, 2021 The warnings are everywhere for all to see, it’s written in the papers and always on TV. When it comes to breaking lockdown rules I just wouldn’t dare, even though restrictions are a long drawn out affair So why don’t they listen why don’t they care, when I see themplaying in the park I can’t help but stare I spendmy days on lessons, not watching tv, if you look for me outside my home you won’t findme Do youmiss your friends, they always askme, no I say because I have a lot of technology I call them from the landline, I zoom them frommy phone and then they can see that I am staying home So what am I doing withmy time that’s free, Mumhas a list of jobs waiting for me! So why don’t they listen why can’t they see the life that it is saving that life could be me. They say now that they listened, they say they all could see, so out of lockdown they will come all except me Now it’s nearly over there is something new for me, I need to shield and stay at home so now can you see I didn’t see this coming, who decided this would be? Its all about a test I had when I was a baby. They said it didn’t matter it’s just a deficiency but that is why I’m shielding so it’s confusing for me So when you’re out there living, a life that’s restriction free, stop for just aminute and spare a thought for me My Mum explained it clearly, I can really see that the need for these restrictions will protect me If you want to helpme bear it, if you want to helpme through there is one thing I have thought of that you could do You could buy some chocolate and other treats for me, pop it in a postbox and address it just tome. Thank you for listening to this tale fromme, I hope that you can see I’mquite happy. I understand the reasons, I’ve googled onmy phone and I will definitely be staying at home.

RAN BAHADUR LIMBU “It was a very difficult time. It was a fear time. There was an instruction to be twometres apart... For that reason also we were afraid to speak to other people. On the social media that while we saw people were tied with ropes and they were taken away because they died of suffering from covid but looking onto that I also thought myself I would die like that one day. It was quite a fearsome time.” OM PRASAD PUN “It was a difficult time, especially for food because it was just a time to get out, and then get the food, take it back home, close all the doors and then just stay inside. It was a difficult time. There wasn’t any communication, we couldn’t speak what is needed as in language terms, but then we need a lot of things like medicines. So we were given a slip. We used to take that to Boots and just give that, take the medicine back home. Still a difficult time.” नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022 अन्तर्ववार ४: रणबहादुर ‘‘य निकै कठिन समय थिय । य डरक समय थिय । दुई मिटरक दूरीमा बस्न निर्शन दिइएक थिय । यसकारण पनि हामी अरू मा निसहरूसित कुरा गर् डराउँथ्ययौ। उनले भने, ‘’सामा क संजालमा हामीले मा निसहरुलाई ड ीले बाँधेक र उनीहरुलाई लगेक देख्ययौ किनभने उनीहरु क भिडबाट पी डित भएर मरेका थिए तर त्यो देखेर मैलेआफैलाई पनि स चेक थिएँ कि म एक दिन यसरी नै मर्छु । य एकदम डरलाग्दो समय थिय ” अन्तर्ववार ५: ओमप्रसाद पुन “य एक कठिन समय थिय , विशेष गरी खानाक ला गि किनकि य बा हिर निस्ने समय थिय , र त्सपछि खाना नुह स्, यसलाई घर फिर्् नुह स्, सबै ढ काहरू बन् गर््ह स् र त्सपछि बस भित्र बस्नुह स्। त्यो कठिन समय थिय । त्हाँ कुनै संचार थिएन, हामी भाषाक रूपमा आवश्यक कुराहरू ब ल्न सकेनौं, तर त्सपछि हामीलाई औषधी जस्त धेरै चीजहरू चा हिन्छ। त्सैले हामीलाई स्लिप दिइय । हामी यसलाई बुट्समा लैजान्थ््य र त्यो मात्र दिन्थ््य, औषधि घर लैजान्थ््य। अझै पनि एक कठिन समय।” नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022

Locked Down View FilmStill Sameea and Danila Jonnud

34 Selflessly Selfish FilmStill Candice Camacho

37 36 I wanted to be involved in the project because I felt like it was a great opportunity to speak for some hidden voices in our community. I feel like it was an opportunity to meet new people and to hear everyone’s experiences. It was a whole new situation for everyone and I just wanted to find out how people were coping and I wanted to find out the positive experiences as well because we heard somany negative experiences and I wanted to feel how people pull together and the positive things that came out of it. My art responses were films portraying the isolation and self conflict that I experienced during the lockdowns, whilst also how the experience brought my family together. Candice Camacho CWA Collaboration group and Community Facilitator

39 38

41 40 Postcards, 2020–2021 Postcards, 2020–2021

43 42 The best is seeing the community come together to help each other. I volunteered for the ARC project and so many people put themselves out to shop and help the vulnerable – it was truly remarkable. Sophie, 2020 The Hampshire Libraries team have been having fun getting creative on our social media pages, with craft, stories and rhymetimes being provided via videos and live streams, and our Ready Reads service has meant that people can still come and collect physical books to borrow. But the ultimate strength has been the staff, who have pulled together to work in a different way, and under challenging circumstances, I always knew we had a good team, and this has definitely proven it. Kate, 2020 Tough. My ex has tried using it to stop me seeing my son. And with the lockdown the courts were on zoom and made it very hard for me to fight properly for my son Matt, 2021 Online survey, 2020/ 2021

45 44 Asslamo AllakumWa Rahmatullah e Wa Barakatoho. lockdown period was/is totally headache. Anon, 2020 Surprisingly knowing that we were sheltering from harm made being confined to the house strangley bearable. In addition to that we learned to spend more quality time together as a family. Various skills were developed. dealt with claustrophobic tendencies by giving time to my garden and growing food and establishing regular walks. Neighbourhoods reached out to each other and looked after each others needs. Waheeda R, 2020 I don’t think I can adequately explain how awful this period has been. The pressure of trying to look after our small child without any support network, while still working in demanding jobs, has been immense. I would say that we were pushed to breaking point but in reality it felt more like the weight of trying to cope slowly crushed us into dust. Anon, 2020 Online survey, 2020/ 2021 Hand EmbroideredWall Hanging, MuslimWomen’s Walking Group, 2022

47 46 Before lockdown the Ahmadiyya MuslimWomen’s Association was an active groupmeeting regularly, with a strong support structure; during lockdown this physical contact became virtual. When the opportunity arose in 2021 to take part in a study project by PhD student Rachel Holmes, several of the women jumped at the chance tomeet up. They walked regularly in BourneWoods, observing their surroundings closely and catching up; the handicraft panels they afterwards produced were stitched into a wall hanging. While lockdown was a shock to Naveed, she felt okay because she understood the need for it. A naturally social woman, she found, “Walking in the group was amazing... (We) became aware of each other’s wellbeing and issues and how others were dealing with Covid. The forest reminded of my childhood asmy father was in the Army. I made it abstract, the silver birch trees, the heather, the pebbles & stones and our houses at the edge of the forest, the clear skies and beautiful greenery.” Fouzia looked forward to the opportunity to join the group. She had recently moved to Aldershot to be close to the mosque but it had closed in lockdown. Unable to visit, she found her surroundings comforting. “We went to a quiet area, higher up and I felt I am standing inMubarakMosque, feeling the peace I feel there.” Her work representedmemories of her feelings and difficulties on the road of her life. Sobia loved the idea of walks and creating art but was unable to join due to pregnancy. After her friend Fouzia started telling her about the walks she imagined herself there. “I felt I would get refreshed by fresh air, and the calmnoise of water with singing birds. The greenery would be soothing for my eyes and the bright coloured leaves and flowers on grass in sun would make me free fromall negatives and I will be a happier person in nature... I would sense the healing power of nature more closely. So I tried to show how every thing would have affectedmy head literally.” It was interesting how Sobia and Fouzia, working from the same descriptions, interpreted and produced such different work. Walking group interviewed by Sameea Jonuud, 2022

Family Life in Lockdown Asia Mahmood, 2021

Family Life in Lockdown Asia Mahmood, 2021

53 52 New ways of working, trying new things. Sometimes a more personal connection because the usual things aren’t available Anon, 2020 Lockdown 2 is different, I live with my family, work from home and it’s winter time; I’m struggling. Lack of sunshine, lower levels of vitamin D and a whole year without a music festival. I’m experiencing poor mental health and low mood. This time around it’s tougher even though I live at home. I am really missing “normal” life and I’m tired. Sophie, 2020 Lucky to have kept my job and been promoted which is more than a lot of young people. However I really miss my friends and hobbies. Anon, 2021 We played lots of board games with our family Anon, 2020 Online survey, 2020/ 2021

55 54 Just that I think it has done me personally a world of good i was so focused on earning money and buying my children clothes, days out etc. This lockdown taught me that actually my kids don’t care about any of that they just enjoy being around me and doing things together. Be it baking, arts and crafts etc. They genuinely don’t care for expensive clothes and shoes and days out they are hapy to beat home cuddled on the sofa watching movies or walking in the woods. Chloe, 2020 We’re lucky we’re a very compatible family. If felt like an extended summer holiday even though I was working. The weather made the difference. The garden umbrella up. We bought a 10” pool. Sunshine. Happiness. Quite roads. Local shop shopping only. Just us. No visitors. Neighbours were safe. Set up a local prescription delivery service to help Rushmoor Voluntary services. Felt like I was contributing. I enjoyed the relaxation of the first lockdown. Anon, 2020 Online survey, 2020/ 2021

Whenever I’m losing hope, I think about getting to finally hug my family again and feel the sun on my skin this summer. It is awful to be going through this but it will be our story to tell our children and grandchildren in years to come. Hopefully it will help to inform and shape future big decisions in politics and our community, taking the positives forward and making change for the better. Anon, 2021 Don’t stay in silence by yourself, people are available to help you. It can be a phone call or a wave. Anon, 2021 Online survey, 2020/ 2021 GAJA BAHADUR GURUNG “For twomonths it was completely inside and the rest of the last ten days or something like that was spent on listening to BFBS radio and I had a book on world war. I went through that book also. We had a TV but that TV broke down so there wasn’t anything for entertainment so it was not a good time.” TOP BAHADUR KAMI “This was a very difficult time because we couldn’t go to the bank also there was nomoney, but then thankful the grocery people [owner of local Nepali grocery shops] lent us, borrowed us, those food items for some times and we paid them later… These were the people who did good job for us. They were really like angels.” OM BAHADUR DAMAI “I fell down. People thought that I was suffering from covid. Nobody came. My wife helpedme out, but she also doesn’t know anything, but what she did was that she soaked the towel or the hanky and squeezed it up, and she just rubbed it roundmy face, asked help the others [she telephoned them], and during that time my villagers came and they rang the hospital, got an ambulance, tookme to the hospital, that I was suffering fromhigh blood pressure. I was given medicine. I belong to Syangja village in Nepal and people from there helpedme out.” नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022

अन्तर्ववार १०: गज बहादुर गुरुङ “दुई महिनासम्म य पूर् रूपमा भित्र थिय र बाँकी दस दिन वा यस्त केहि बीएफबीएस रेडिय सुन्नमा खर् भय र मसँग विश्व युद्धक बारेमा एक पुस्क थिय । मैले त्यो पुस्क पनि पढे। हामीसँग टिभी थिय तर त्यो टिभी बिग्रय त्सैले मन ञ्जनका ला गि केही पनि थिएन त्सैले य राम्रो समय थिएन।” अन्तर्ववार ११: ट पबहादुर कामी “य निकै कठिन समय थिय किनभने हामी बैकमा जान पनि सक्द नथ्ययौ, पैसा पनि थिएन, तर त्सपछि किराना मा निसहरू [स्थनीय नेपाली किराना पसलका मा क] ले हामीलाई उधा दिए, हामीलाई उधा दिए, केही समयका ला गि ती खाद् वस्त हरू र हामीले पछि भुक्तनी गरयौं ... यी ती मा निसहरू थिए जसले हाम्रो ला गि राम्रो काम गरे। तिनीहरू साँच्च स्वर् दूतहरू जस्त थिए” अन्तर्ववार १२: ओम बहादुर दमाई “म तल खसे । मा निसहरुले मलाई क भिड लागेक ठानेका थिए । क ही आएनन् । मेरी श्रमतीले मलाई सहय ग गरिन्, तर उनलाई पनि केही थाहा छैन, तर उनले के गरिन् भने उनले तौ या वा ह्यन्क भिजाएर निच रिन्, र उनले यसलाई मे अनुहारमा रगडिन्, अरूलाई मद्दत मा गिन् [उनले उनीहरूलाई टे फ न गरिन्], र त्स समयमा मेरा गाउँलेहरूआए र उनीहरूले अस्पताललाई फ न गरे, एम्बुलेन्स पाए, म उच् रक्चापबाट पी डित छु भनेर मलाई अस्पताल लगिय । मलाई दवाई दिईय , म नेपालक स्यङजा गाउँकी हुु र त्हाँका मा निसहरूले मलाई सहय ग गरे।” नेपाली भिडिय अन्तर्ववार मार् २०२२ Nepali Video Interviews, March 2022

61 60 Interviewwith Aldershot Ahmadiyya MuslimYouth Association SAJID “Some people did say, I need helpmoving home, or I needmy medicine picked up, some andmy wife helped themwholeheartedly.” LABEED “For a number of years as an association we’ve been volunteering outside of the pandemic, contributing towards the food bank, offering food to homeless charities, visiting care homes. As a Muslim this kind of work has a close connection to our faith because, as a Muslim, we’re constantly told, and

63 62 we believe, it’s not just enough to go to the mosque and pray and worship, in addition to praying and worshipping you also need to serve God’s creation, and that’s through helping people. Because of the pandemic we’ve been very fortunate to have plenty of opportunities to put this fundamental part of our faith into action. We had around 70members in our community responding to thousands of requests frompeople, assisting with shopping and collecting medicines. On a personal level My wife was pregnant during lockdown so it was good to be there at home with her and help her. I also definitely welcomed the idea of working fromhome and not commuting.” SAEED “One incident I want tomentionwas in regards to a vulnerable child. It was he birthday coming up and thankfully I actually managed to get all the ingredients that they needed to make a birthday cake and they were so so happy that we managed to get the ingredients and they baked their cake they sent me a photo of it and it was really really really nice to see that! We made food for themat our local mosque kitchen for up to about 200 people and sent that to the Royal Surrey County Hospital and we did that every week for as long as they needed it and they were very very also very pleased that you know they got some very nice kind of Asian Indian food or Pakistani Foods!” KHALID “It was an interesting experience and and seeing the people that you’re delivering it to in terms of you know they’re vulnerable they can’t actually go out and get it. collect their medicines and stuff themselves, sort of hits home in terms of what you have and what you are able to offer others. I you know youmight want to do very big things to try and benefit lots of people but even the smallest or the little bit of action that you do do the little help that you do give can benefit someone somuch. I know there’s a lot of negatives but the positive for me was that it made our family a lot closer. we sort of understood each other a lot more we learned from each other and it also gave me a chance to to be withmy children a lot more.” QASID “I think youmight know Susan about the campaign of ORCA so they they ran this campaign on social media which essentially stands for Operation Rushmoor Community Action and they needed branding done for this so I think that’s the first kind of contact we had with Heather like directly and she reached out and said ‘oh have you potentially anybody that can create a kind of a logo for us and save us some money?’ so we actually said well yeah well we reached out internally found some young students his name’s EhtashamArif just just to put himout there as well he generated some logos some branding, and they loved the designs actually and I think they’re now they’re being used across kind of their their email signatures as well so that was that was something that we did for the council.”

65 64

67 66 A Bright, NewDawn As I look up toward the sky, clouds are racing. They twist and turn, as they gather speed. Their colours are mingled like a giant collage, looking down upon the earth. New life is emerging from the depths of winter, where frost and ice has captured its prey. Lakes and ponds that once were frozen, are released from their unchanging prison, as the waters race towards the sea. Trees are bearing new life, with buds forming and releasing their sweet aroma. Grassy meadows are full of new life, as insects march towards a new day. Birds are gathering for their dawn chorus, “Awake and see the rising sun, bid farewell to troubled times.” Deborah Nobbs, 2021

69 68 I have a hearing impairment, somy work illustrates the frustration and despair I felt during this time, specifically my poem, The Mask. It’s been interesting hearing people’s experiences and responses. I remember many of the children (during the picnic and pop engagement session) saying how they missed school & their friends during lockdown. Likewise, parents were unanimous in saying they didn’t miss home schooling! My husband Craig has remindedme that “Gymnasti-Cat” came out of lockdown too. This was a story about my cats – Tommy wasn’t really Tommy - he was “Gymnasti-Cat: Super-sleuth and Hero”; Mr Bear was his able assistant. The villain was Boris the cat. I’ve since written another story of how “Gymnasti-Cat saves Christmas.” Debbie Nobbs CWA Collaboration group Yes my relationship with my family got stonger. My dad and sister live in liverpool so we don’t get to see them much and during lockdown we did the zoom quiz that everyone did at the time and we have carried on since which is lovely. I have spoke to them more this year than i have the previous 11 years I have lived here. Chloe, 2020 Has anything good come out of lockdown for you? I can not think of one thing. Anon, 2020 In my case the fridge is enemy no. 1 !! Diana H, 2020 Even during the darkest times, we are not alone; just look around you and see the beautiful world on your doorstep. Also, never be afraid to ask for help if you need it, however small you may think your problem is. ♥ Anon, 2020 Online survey, 2020/ 2021

70 This has been a very hard year for my family. My son died from cancer in May. My daughter and i managed to see him for a few hours. We were in full PPI. The funeral was on line so all my family could grieve with us. The sad thing is my older child has learning has a learning difficulty and he could not understand where his brother was. We managed to take him out for a few visits but then we went into lock down again. I talk to him on the phone but he wants to come to us for a visit . It is so hard as a mum not being able to see your son and be able to comfort him. We are strong as a family and hopefully we will be able to see each other again very soon. Anon, 2021 In This community I am proud the way in which we look after each other Anon, 2021 It has made me appreciate the good things in life and the freedom to go where and when I wish Anon, 2021 Online survey, 2020/ 2021

73 72 Before lockdown, I had just changed school, and I was really anxious to go to it every day. It was a slight relief when they askedme to quarantine for two weeks, as I was walking intomy winter cold, and I was astonished when I realised that we would be at home for the next month! Although it seems difficult to cope with three siblings, and parents working fromhome, it really isn’t, andmy explorations withmy younger brother proves so. We would go out on walks and expeditions, as there was a gigantic graveyard just opposite to our garden inviting us imploringly in. During some of the times, we visited a particularly fascinating tree, whichmy little brother discovered we could climb its glorious branches, and I found a little metal rod with the number 135 written on it, and planted it into the earth of where our Treehouse stood. Zara Ajmal, 11

74 In collaboration with the West End Centre in Aldershot and Rushmoor Borough Council, artists Susan Merrick, Lorna Rees and Candice Camacho created 120 painted, but blank, placards and delivered them to local Aldershot schools, Alderwood School and St Michaels Junior School, where pupils turned them into messages of hope. 75 All of the children’s placards with their hopes for 2021 were placed on display throughout Aldershot town centre for everyone to enjoy March–May 2022. Images of all of the placards of hope can all be seen on the Culture on Call Website via the QR code.

77 76 I was asked whether I would like to join this group in the autumn of 2020. We all met once a week on Zoomand each week there was a new topic to discuss. We were broadly looking at ways to communicate our reactions to the first Lockdown through a variety of methods that Susan had arranged. I feel like we were all a bit reticent to come forward with ideas at first, but with Susan’s guidance and encouragement we were able to talk to each other. What I tookmost out of the whole experience was the opportunity tomeet new people and hear their ideas each week. It was always interesting to hear frompeople and how they had been during this extraordinary time. Being able to write something down, or take photographs or make a filmand to know that this would be presented to the group, and that we could then talk about made me feel like I was really part of something special. The encouragement we received and gave to each other was ongoing and the group produced some outstanding work. I will always feel thankful for being a part of this gathering of minds that was so productive, unique and generous- hearted. Daisy Edwards There’s a bird flying around the mirror Poetry FilmStill Daisy Edwards