'It's been like a prison': Living in lockdown in a London tower block

Behind the windows which are high above ground, where family life is packed into only so much space, coronavirus lockdown has been a long hard stretch.

The stresses and strains of the restrictions on our movement have been the same here as everywhere else.

But in flats with no gardens, or any kind of outside space, confinement has been much harder to bear.

With three children under five-years-old, one of whom has special educational needs, Husnara Khatun has found staying at home completely exhausting.

She speaks of how lucky she is to have a home that keeps her safe, but also of how those four walls have sometimes felt like a prison.

Only half a mile or so from the largely emptied towers of the City of London, the towers here are full of people - some of who haven’t been able to leave at all.

Rowshonara Choudhury has lived in her block for 30 years.

In her flat, she cares for her mother, who has dementia.

Every morning, she has to explain to her mum why she cannot go outside.

The restrictions are starting to ease.

The street markets beloved by the many people of Bengali heritage who live in Tower Hamlets are slowly opening up.

But in a community which has proved particularly vulnerable to the virus, being freed from lockdown brings new anxieties.

  • James Ali and Ferdusi Begum worry for their community as well as their family:

They are keenly aware that the disease remains a lethal threat.

And in a shared living space like a tower block, there are so many more spaces and surfaces where infection can spread.

Lockdown has turned these homes into places of sanctuary and struggle.

Outside their windows, meanwhile, is a changed - and still frightening - world.