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A Newcastle worker

After the initial shock wore off, my family settled into a routine. We argued a lot. There was a cycle of us taking turns having mental breakdowns. The problem was, even in isolation, we had a constant supply of stressors.

Every time you looked at the news it was like watching a dystopian film. The virus, anti-maskers, innocent protestors facing police brutality, the recession, the list goes on and on. By August, I was the only one who had not approached the mental health services for counselling.

While this was going on, I had been forced to commit furlough fraud by my boss – who told us that doing work while furloughed was “voluntary” while holding our jobs over our heads.

One of my friends had it worse; he lost his job immediately, despite the scheme. We even had to help him out while he waited for his ‘whopping’ £350-a-month Universal Credit.

Worst of all had to be the worry for my grandparents. We taught them how to use video calls and called every day, but it was really tough. It felt completely awful dropping shopping off and not being able to give them a hug. But the anxiety of whether I would be the one to infect them stopped me.

Since things have relaxed, I think I am even more stressed. I am back in the office, where the virus is treated as a joke, as is following restrictions. My boss even bragged about telling his 70-plus father-in-law to “take that mask off whilst you’re in my house.”

Now it feels like I just have to cling onto my job. We have already had one case. I have been tested twice and been lucky – for now.

I don’t know what is worse: being isolated in lockdown, or dealing with employment in this post-lockdown world. With the cases now as high as they were in April, and nothing being done other than the removal of furlough payments, it feels like we are on our own.