“Never recognized something prefer it in my lifetime.”
That’s a line we’ll all have heard it in the 100 days since Boris Johnson introduced the coronavirus lockdown on 23 March.
Normally it might be one thing your nan would possibly say. For Telford in Shropshire, it is true of a whole town.
Throughout the final 100 days, Radio 1 Newsbeat has been in contact with individuals in Telford about how lockdown has changed them and their lives.
There’s the native footballer who has no concept what is going to occur to his profession, the private coach who needed to change her enterprise in a single day and the rapper who thought 2020 could be his finest but.
‘An incredible place to develop up’
Telford has solely existed since the late 1960s – constructed then to supply new housing to individuals from a lot busier cities. After 50 years, it is nonetheless known as “a brand new town”.
“It’s received an ideal mix of rural and concrete,” 18-year-old Molly Morgan tells us about her hometown. “It’s an awesome place to develop up.”
“I’ve grown up right here, my household’s right here, my future’s right here,” provides private coach Esther Williams.
“It’s received an awesome group. When I used to be youthful, I’d have gone to Birmingham or Wolverhampton for the day however now there’s a lot to do in Telford.”
Telford was a much more bold mission than different new cities of the period, like Stevenage and Crawley.
The intention was for 225,000 individuals to dwell there by 1991. In 2020 there are round 155,000.
The town is minimize down the center by the motorway linking Shropshire with the Black Country. Famous manufacturers together with Hitachi take websites on the industrial Stafford Park to the east, with the world well-known Iron Bridge, arching over the River Severn, a pair of miles to the south.
The concept for Telford was to convey smaller cities, like Dawley and Lawley, collectively into one group.
“It’s received an impressive state of affairs overlooking Shropshire… I believe it is received the makings of a really superb town certainly,” have been the phrases of Alwyn Sheppard Fidler, former City Architect of Birmingham, who helped with the plans.
“Once a lovely town is constructed there – trade will go,” he mentioned.
In lockdown, Telford is a group dealing with some of its largest challenges – and the individuals we have been speaking to spoke about challenges that can really feel very acquainted. In many of the tales you hear, it is the temper of uncertainty which retains developing.
Esther’s private coaching agency, Ruthless, takes up a small corrugated unit on the sprawling industrial property of Hortonwood, the place each Epson and Heinz have bases.
She solely began her enterprise in 2018 and its entire mannequin was remodeled in a single day on 23 March when the prime minister addressed the nation and informed us that every one non-essential companies, together with gyms, should shut.
Esther’s been paying full lease on the unit throughout lockdown and continues to be ready for the authorities to say she will be able to re-open. In the meantime, her focus is on-line periods and small train courses in the park.
“The work I’m doing is nice, and I’m so grateful for that, however it’s not fairly sufficient to have the ability to hold paying the lease there.”
During that first week of lockdown, Esther informed her shoppers on Facebook: “We will probably be again. We will probably be stronger. We will probably be unstoppable.”
Looking again now, she provides: “I’ve by no means carried out on-line so I used to be fairly nervous. I went to Zoom having by no means used Zoom earlier than.
“For me, it was utterly completely different. It was daunting to start with however I’m so glad I did.”
You can not help however discover Esther says “so grateful” and “so glad” rather a lot. She acknowledges others companies haven’t had her flexibility.
Esther’s husband misplaced his job in gross sales however could not get furlough as he’d solely been along with his firm a short while.
“He’s simply beginning now to get interviews. The stress of looking for a job – even a brief job – they simply go so fast. Things are getting higher now. I’m simply fortunate I can work now and issues are beginning to transfer.”
From Esther’s unit to at least one of the town’s focal factors – the New Bucks Head, house to non-league AFC Telford United – is only a seven-minute drive.
For the sixth tier of English soccer, it is spectacular. A 6,000-capacity stadium would absolutely be one of the larger days out in the National League North. AFC Guiseley and Curzon Ashton are typical guests.
AFC Telford United usually get a thousand individuals turning as much as house video games however there’s been no person via the turnstiles since Kettering Town on 14 March – and with none earnings from tickets, the membership’s confronted determined measures.
On a Go Fund Me web page in search of donations, a message reads: “All of our earnings streams have dramatically lowered to nearly zero for a number of weeks now and it is nearly sure as a enterprise it would take a while to recuperate.”
Midfielder Adam Walker says the months with out soccer have been powerful on the gamers too. They mentioned goodbye to one another after a reasonably common match – minus the handshakes – anticipating to see one another once more later in the similar week.
“And that by no means occurred. So it has been a giant hole in everybody’s lives actually.”
Adam has grow to be one thing of an unofficial spokesman for the gamers. He says some are having to have a look at a profession change.
“There’s a really darkish mist overhead nonetheless till that is resolved. There’s huge uncertainty on what number of golf equipment will be capable to survive.”
He factors to the potential influence that might have on this group.
“A membership like Telford have all the time had an excellent facet and a stunning stadium. You take that away from the group and there’d be a large gap there.”
Without the ensures of gate receipts, the membership’s been serving to its gamers discover different work, corresponding to teaching.
“The gaffer’s tried to assist gamers at the finish of their profession or perhaps the youthful ones who do not know but whether or not they’ll receives a commission for soccer and so they might need younger households.
“It’s exhibiting them the way to be employable as a result of rather a lot of individuals will probably be searching for jobs in this era.
“It’s to attempt to assist individuals have an earnings and nonetheless play soccer.”
There has been soccer on the Bucks Head web site for a century, however the space’s not had the largest dwell music scene just lately.
“Telford has had a scarcity of precise dwell music venues. One of the fundamental ones closed down a couple of years in the past,” says Tim Rogers – a monetary providers employee by day, who takes off the swimsuit and tie to grow to be rapper Trademark Blud out of workplace hours.
This yr felt like a second of change – with a brand new 300-capacity venue opening in the town’s Southwater Square.
It’s straightforward to think about Southwater Square with out ever visiting. Cineworld, Nando’s, TGi Fridays, all constructed in the previous few years – all designed to offer individuals in Telford a brand new choice for an evening out.
Tim thought the new venue was going to be a giant second for the native dwell scene – with the prospect of worldwide names coming to Telford.
“It’s horrible. The most vital factor is with the ability to ship what you’ve got produced to individuals and see their reactions and allow them to take pleasure in in the means you hope they are going to.”
He sounds undeniably flat speaking about his music. He’s been doing exhibits on-line however “they don’t seem to be the similar”.
“It’s not even 50% – particularly with rap and hip-hop because it’s tremendous energetic.”
To prime it off, he had pageant bookings for Boomtown and B-Side pageant in 2020, which clearly will not be occurring.
Outside of music although Tim says he is feeling “far more comfy” about the pandemic – his fears of choosing it up have lowered and he is settled into working at house.
Covid got here nearer than he’d like although – a toddler in his son’s class misplaced his father after he contracted the virus.
For 18-year-old Molly, the newest lockdown easing is a bit of excellent news – she’s received her pal’s 18th birthday the week when new measures come into impact, in order that they’ll get a celebration.
Beyond that, Molly’s future will most likely be nearer to Telford than she’d been planning.
She ought to have simply completed her A-Levels. But of course she by no means really sat them and has tweaked her uni decisions as a result of she did not get to complete her open day excursions.
Now, she’s PPE (not that one, she jokes, after pulling her personal face overlaying down) in Liverpool or Birmingham. This PPE is politics, philosophy and economics.
“I’d have been extra open to going additional away however with out the probability to go to, I used to be apprehensive to go someplace with out seeing the metropolis. I’d have been a bit extra adventurous.”
Molly says she’s nervous about the prospect of her first yr at college being largely on-line studying.
“I do not wish to keep in my room primarily for the entire yr… I’m unsure that is proper for me. I’ve toyed with delaying for a yr to get the correct uni expertise.”
Molly will know extra when the outcomes come in August, Adam’s retaining the coaching going ready for information on the new season. Esther hopes her unit will probably be open for courses after the subsequent wave of authorities bulletins.
And rapper Trademark Blud? He’s eyeing up a plan B.
“Some of my mates are acoustic guitarists and so they would possibly get again and begin gigging once more. It’s perhaps tough for my style – it is extra of a dwell venue, nightclub, large stage variety of factor.
“I’m considering of working with some guitarists and going to do the native pubs. I do not suppose they’re going to admire me leaping round and leaping off the tables at six o’clock. We’ll need to tone it down I believe.”
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