Leeds' Lockdown Legends

This week Wednesday 23rd September marked six months since Boris Johnson addressed the public and, after weeks of speculation and a worsening coronavirus situation, we entered a national lockdown.

 I recall being huddled around the television contemplating the enormity of this historic moment. Whilst many of us then tried to make the most of our one walk a day and occasional trip to the supermarket, some were going to extraordinary and creative lengths to do good in this uncertain time. Flashback to early March and what comes to mind? For me it is the strange and growing obsession our country seemed to develop for toilet roll. Funnily enough, bulk buying loo roll has not yet been proven as an effective deterrent for coronavirus, yet the obsession continues. Although this seems somewhat humorous, irrational stockpiling behaviours also caused widespread problems as vulnerable individuals were left staring at empty shelves and feeling extremely anxious.

 What came next was a movement which originated as a gesture of appreciation for our National Health Service. Every Thursday evening at 8pm between the 26th March until the 28th May, the people of Britain hung out of windows and stood in doorways and streets as they clapped, cheered and bashed wooden spoons against saucepans for our key workers. Communities came together like never before.

As April came around, Captain Tom Moore, a former British Army Officer stole the hearts of the nation. With the help of his sturdy walking frame, Tom walked 100 laps of his garden in order to raise money for the NHS. His just giving page went viral and Captain Tom ended up raising an incredible £39m. Our dear Captain Tom became the most popular topic of discussion on Zoom calls around the country.

 Feeling inspired by Captain Tom’s efforts, I decided to ask those a little closer to home about the positive things they have done over these past few months. From everyday acts of kindness to incredible fundraising efforts, I was truly affected by what I heard.

 Many of our very own societies at Leeds University Union have taken on challenges and raised money for various causes. The Leeds Celtic Cheerleaders took the ‘one outing a day to exercise’ rule to new extremes by together running the distance from London to Leeds. They did this in aid of Winston’s Wish, a charity which supports grieving children and families. Our cheerleaders raised a whopping £2,200 for a brilliant cause.

 Leeds Student Radio put together multiple ‘bedroom broadcasts’. Initially they raised money to support local businesses such as our beloved Hyde Park Book Club, the coolest music venue, cafe and bar in LS6. This was soon followed by the success of ‘Girl Power in the P.M.’ a female led broadcast put together in order to raise money for Women’s Aid. Due to concerns surrounding individuals who may have been isolating in homes where they were anxious and unsafe, Leeds Student Radio members shared important safety information and raised awareness along with nearly £600 for the cause.

 I also received many mentions of individual ‘Lockdown Legends’. I was sent an anonymous message about Jamie, a third year Media student at Leeds, who regularly created short videos which he shared on YouTube to provide tips and advice for students. These informative videos really helped many students during this time by providing guidance on how to adapt to the current circumstances and look after our mental health.

On discussing this with my university friends, I discovered they too knew their fair share of heroes. Like many of us, my housemate’s friend Ellie took up a new hobby during lockdown. Ellie’s was sewing and she used this skill, in true ‘edgy Leeds’ fashion, to make some funky personalised bucket hats. In return for being handcrafted a bespoke hat she asked that the customer donate £10 to Black Lives Matter causes. Over the lockdown period she made a massive success of this and raised over £400.

Although these past few months have been unprecedented and trying for each and every one of us, I hope we can all appreciate the positive things that people around us have been doing. Many students at Leeds have been extremely proactive and achieved incredible things, from huge team fundraisers to everyday acts of support and kindness, I think many of our friends and colleagues deserve recognition. The continued uncertainty surrounding our next university year calls for us to look out for one another and keep doing good where we can. Let us hold onto hope and celebrate the power of human spirit.

 

Words By: Olivia Snelson