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‘Leaving the house could be the death of me’ - the dilemma facing those shielding

PUBLISHED: 06:30 05 June 2020

Ray and Tina Cleveland, from Gorleson, who have only just started venturing outside after shielding for 10 weeks. Picture: Tina Cleveland

Ray and Tina Cleveland, from Gorleson, who have only just started venturing outside after shielding for 10 weeks. Picture: Tina Cleveland

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For the past 10 weeks hundreds of people across Norfolk with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus have been confined to their homes.

Now those ‘shielding’ have been able to venture out for the first time after the guidance was updated.

It means those who were sent letters and advised to stay indoors for three months, can go outside with members of their household while continuing to follow social distancing guidelines.

But among some of those now free to leave their homes, there is a dilemma: should they take the risk?

A coronavirus awareness sign on a bus stop. Picture: PA ImagesA coronavirus awareness sign on a bus stop. Picture: PA Images

‘We only dare go out at 6.30am when no-one else is around’

Tina Cleveland, 52, from Gorleston, has been shielding with her husband Ray, 59, an engineer, who has cold agglutinin and neuphrotic syndrome.

“The only thing different we have been doing is we get up at 6.30am now and just go for a quick walk down onto the seafront,” she said. “That way there is no-one about. Otherwise we have continued staying in.

“My sister has mainly been doing our shopping once or twice a week. We have been keeping in touch with friends through phone calls and emails. I’m in a writing group and we had a Zoom meeting online which was quite good.

A few people out exercising at Gorleston beach during the lockdown. Picture: Denise BradleyA few people out exercising at Gorleston beach during the lockdown. Picture: Denise Bradley

“My son who is 19 is furloughed so he has been at home and not going anywhere. My daughter Holly just goes on a quick bike ride every morning. The biggest problem has been home schooling.

“As people shielding we don’t know what is going to happen. We have a date of June 28 now and that’s it. We don’t know anymore. My husband is furloughed until June 15 but how that will pan out we are really not sure, whether they will allow him to stay shielding until the end of June we just don’t know.”

‘We worry when we’ll be able to fully re-enter the outside world?’

Sue Gresham who has done a charity walk with her husband Simon whilst shielding at home in Holt. Picture: Sue GreshamSue Gresham who has done a charity walk with her husband Simon whilst shielding at home in Holt. Picture: Sue Gresham

Sue Gresham, from Holt, has a rare autoimmune liver condition and has to take steroids and other strong medication and has been shielding with her husband Simon.

They have spent their time walking 125 miles, 5,000 circuits of their house, on a ‘virtual visit’ to Simon’s mother in Surrey, who they haven’t seen since January. They raised £2,600 for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals charity.

“We were told it would be 12 weeks so Simon, who doesn’t need to be shielded, decided he would self-isolate to avoid us living two separate lives which would be pretty grim,” she said.

“We are quite fortunate we have quite a large house and a garden. I cannot imagine what it must be like for people who live somewhere where they don’t have a garden or live in a flat. It is pretty bad for us but it must be even worse.

The guidance for vulnerable and at risk people shielding changed on May 31 allowing them to go outdoors for the first time in 10 weeks. Picture: NHS EnglandThe guidance for vulnerable and at risk people shielding changed on May 31 allowing them to go outdoors for the first time in 10 weeks. Picture: NHS England

“The walk has generated a lot of interest from friends and family and wider within Norfolk, so we have been really busy and it has kept us going.

“We have not gone out more and I’m a bit cynical about the easing of the restrictions. We are in Holt so we have beaches and lovely countryside close to us, so it feels quite frustrating that people are in some cases travelling from far afield to enjoy that but we are not able to.

“What has to happen in order for it to be safe for people in my situation to be able to re-enter the outside world?”

More experiences from those shielding in Norfolk

James Long

I will still be staying inside and only going out to the local small shop only when I really need to. There are far too many people that don’t listen and until this is all over and my girlfriend can stay with me I have no reason to leave the house.

It has been two years since I have had even a cold and I plan to keep it that way and with all the protests and packed beaches and parks the death rate will soon rise sharply. We will be back to square one.

Kathy Brotherhood

I have chronic asthma and have been told to shield. Because my asthma has been very unstable and I’ve just finished my fourth lot of antibiotics and steroids. I will continue to stay at home. I don’t feel the R number is low enough yet to be complacent.

I’m concerned the government are trying to move on from the Cummings debate by easing up the lockdown too fast

Susannah Clarke

I went into lockdown at the beginning of March due to my transplant. It’s been tough not socialising and leading my life but rules are there for a reason. I only go out for my blood tests and check ups. I am lucky to have a nice garden and enjoy this lovely weather. I’m not sure about going out yet I think it’s still too soon.

Jo Woods

I’ve chosen to shield - so far as staying at home and only leaving to exercise locally - because I have chronic asthma, even though it’s not classed as severe. I fully intend to continue doing so for the foreseeable - and it’s all thanks to the selfish, arrogant individuals who refuse to abide by the rules and choose to deliberately misinterpret them.

Constanta Lupsa

How do you go out for a walk when there are so many people on the street that don’t keep the social distance and look weird at you if you are wearing a mask? I prefer to stay in even if is so hard.


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