Class of Covid: Children and young people reflect on the past 12 months in lockdown

  • Sisters Olivia and Lucia share their reflections

The nation is marking one year of the coronavirus lockdown, which has seen many lives upturned, changes to our day-to-day living or it's even been a blessing in disguise for some.

With a minute's silence being held to remember the 126,172 people who have died from the virus, it's important to remember the impact will stay with us for a long time to come.

For the younger generation, the pandemic has meant missing out on an important developmental time in their lives - no matter what their age.So ITV News is following a Class of Covid - and previously introduced a group of children and young people across the country who have agreed to share their experiences with us.

One year on from the start of lockdown, we hear their reflections, how they're feeling at the milestone date and their hopes for the future.

Aaisha, 11, Bolton

Lockdown was hard "physically and mentally" for Aaisha, who has Brittle Bone Disease and uses a wheelchair. She describes feeling a lot of "fear" over the past year. "There were times where I felt lonely and just wanted to meet my friends and have a chat," she says. "Times like when my mum was isolating with Covid in the first lockdown, I felt I had lost my best friend.

"She is my carer for my needs and my friend to talk to and to support me physically and mentally whilst in the lockdown. I felt lost and I was scared that she wouldn't recover fully from Covid. I just wanted hugs and kisses from her again. It was very heart breaking."

Part of Aaisha's fear came from seeing panic buying and thinking there'd be nothing left: " It felt like the past, like in the times when there was a war. Knowing people that are family and friends that are sick from Covid and even deaths, so many deaths - it really affected me."

Panic buying made 11-year-old Aaisha worry that there'd be nothing left. Credit: PA

Aaisha did take positives from the past year however, including spending Ramadan at home with her family while mosques were closed.

She said: "I got to spend quality time with my brother Muhammad. I got to celebrate special occasions with my immediate family like Eid and birthdays but I also missed not seeing my friends and cousins so it was mixed emotions."

As for the future, Aaisha hopes everyone gets the vaccine soon and "it brings a light for the future"."I just cannot wait for the day everything will be normal again: going swimming, going cycling, meeting my cousins. Having get togethers and parties with my family and friends... No keeping social distances, no wearing masks not being scared of getting Covid. I JUST WANT NORMALITY. "I want to wake up from this dream and want my life to be normal again."

  • ITV News Correspondent John Ray introduces the Class of Covid:

Kalisha, Samarah and Majidah from Bermondsey, South East London

The past 12 months in lockdown have been "very sad" for little Majidah, as her father struggled to overcome coronavirus. "Everyone in my house were sad since my dad was in hospital," the five-year-old said. But he made a recovery - just in time to celebrate with Majidah: "I was very, very happy when my grumpy daddy came to my birthday. It was the best day ever especially when we ate the cake!"

Majidah's father came home from hospital in time to celebrate her birthday.

Majidah's older sister, Kalisha, 11, shared a heart-rending account of her father being taken to hospital with ITV News.

The 54-year-old psychiatric nurse survived multiple organ failure and at one point doctors were telling his family that he wouldn't make it and they should think about turning his life-support machine off.She remembers "screaming for help" seeing her father, Sama, running into the bathroom and "shaking with every step he took". "My mum began to fear what we had all been asking in our minds 'did our dad have the coronavirus?' An ambulance rushed him to hospital but he was discharged again and began shaking again the following night."

Kalisha penned an account of the moment her father fell ill with Covid-19.

She continues: "My mum didn't wait and told us to put on our coats and shoes. She drove all the way to the hospital, not looking back once. Once we got there, all of us entered the hospital and the next things you know there are shouts of 'get the kids out of the hospital' or 'the kids are not safe to be here'. "The doctors assured us our dad would be OK so we gave him one last hug and walked out - tears streaming down our faces."

Kalisha remembers the drive home without her father. She says her mum kept "giving backwards glances" towards the hospital but carried on driving - until they heard police sirens. She said: "They forced my mum to pull over but when he saw us three kids in the back he spoke gently and kindly and once he understood our position he let us go back home. "We had many video calls with my dad and we greatly celebrated when we found out our dad on one video call talked to us. The best bit however had to be when our family reunited and my big sister - who's a nurse and participated a vast contribution to help us - came to see our dad with her two sons. That was the best day of my life."Nairn, 25, North Ayrshire

Nairn has had a huge weight on his shoulder during lockdown but enjoyed "giving back" to his community.

"It is as if we will all wake up in a minute and find out we have fallen asleep at the cinema in the middle of one of those future apocalypse movies."

Nairn says the "last 12 months still don’t really feel real" and describes how the lockdown amplified his struggles with his mental health. "The worst part was that address to the nation that Boris Johnson did when he said many people are going to die. That hit me like a tonne of bricks as we were still grieving the shock of losing my gran in the end of the year before."

Nairn recalls the prime minister's address to the nation in March 2020. Credit: PA

He added: "The hopelessness, bleakness and present danger of it all really hit me and at times I found myself in a truly dark place where ending my own life felt like a legitimate way out. It took me months to get through that and back to a semi-level place." Nairn describes the only bright side of the past year as spending more time with family and volunteering to deliver prescriptions. He said: "That really gave me purpose and helped bring some hope into the situation. "My hopes for the next 12 months are really mainly to have a chance to breathe, to take a break and to work on my mental health and get back on track to where I was at the start of 2020; as well as hoping to get back to focusing on starting my journey on the career ladder at some point."

Faiza, 15, Birmingham

Faiza Mateen is looking forward to the 'next stage' in her life at mainstream college.

"A whole year wasted at home." Faiza, who was due to be sitting her GCSEs this year, laments the past 12 months, which should have been "filled with fun opportunities and plans".

She said: "The past year has stopped me from doing most of the things I love. I believe that if the lockdown did not occur then many people would have been able to carry out plans that they had made with their families and friends. "My hopes going forward would be finally getting back to normality and filling this year with plans that may have failed to take place last year.

"I cannot wait for the day when I can leave the house without worrying about a pandemic ruining our lives and just living life as we used to."

Brandan, 24, London

Brandan Crooke hopes to work in TV Production in the future.

The last 12 months has given media student Brandan a lot of time to reflect on things.

"In the beginning, life was filled with a lot of uncertainty, no one knew what to expect from Covid, and it didn't feel like we were ever going to see an end," he said.

"It made me worried about my future and the direction I was going. I watched the industry I want to get into shut down, me, my friends and family separate, and it was hard to see life stop."

Brandan had hopes to find work in the television industry but the pandemic meant a change in direction, so he will now take on a Masters in Digital Media at the University of Sussex.He told ITV News: "There was some good to the pause in life. It allowed me a chance to connect with people, who I probably haven't spoken to in a while, just because of the busy day to day, which was nice.

"I was able to plan and focus on finishing my degree, whilst also starting to think about the future."

Lacey-Maria, 10, Llanelli

Lacey "can't wait for Covid to be over".

It's been frustrating not seeing friends for many youngsters, including 10-year-old Lacey.

Reflecting on the past year, she said: "In the beginning I was very worried because maybe one of my family would get Covid and have to go to hospital and I wouldn’t be able to see them. "I’ve also missed school and just being able to go places. Luckily I’ve been able to see my friends by using FaceTime and play computer games. "I can’t wait for Covid to be over and for lockdown to finish, so I can go on holiday, see my friends and not worry that my family will be unwell."

Thyra, 17, Sheffield"I've missed some opportunities that I'll never come across again," Thyra laments.

The keen rugby player had hoped to volunteer in Zanzibar for two weeks, but was cancelled.

"Despite the highs and lows of the pandemic and lockdowns, I can definitely say that this past year has opened my eyes and taught me to appreciate the little things in life, like giving a hug or going round to a family members for a Sunday roast."

Seventeen-year-old Thyra has many things planned for the future, despite the current uncertainty.

Now the 17-year-old is excited to be moving on to the next big chapter in her life, university."That itself will bring many challenges but I cannot wait to tackle them. In the coming months I’m also hoping to pass my driving test (fingers crossed that it doesn’t get cancelled again) and also get back into the swing of playing rugby for my local club, but also at university.

"The final thing I’m really looking forward to is celebrating my 18th birthday, hopefully some restrictions will be lifted so I can celebrate with family and friends."