Yorkshire residents brace themselves for months of home-schooling, business closures, and hardship as third lockdown begins

For Jessica Taylor, and millions of other parents across the country, it is a daily routine that has now become all too familiar throughout the months of lockdown.

Jessica Taylor, 36, is home educating her nine-year-old daughter Gabriella after schools closed to most children on Monday evening

In a makeshift classroom at her home near Selby, Ms Taylor’s nine-year-old daughter, Gabriella, is ensconced in front of a lap-top as she carries on with her schooling online.

The third lockdown which has been enforced across England in less than 10 months has brought upheaval to people’s lives across the whole of society.

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But Ms Taylor, a 36-year-old yoga instructor and therapist who is continuing with her own business online, is determined to learn lessons herself from the previous occasions when the nation was confined to home.

She said: “In the beginning, home-schooling was great. We got up every morning and did Joe Wicks’ work-out together and then followed work set by the school until lunchtime, and she caught up with her friends after lunch.

“But as we got in the summer, Gabriella started to lose a bit of focus.

“There was some mum guilt that I wasn’t doing enough, but I spoke to other mums and we all felt the same way and realised we were in the same boat. Things have changed a lot since I was at school.”

Amid growing fears that the latest lockdown could well stretch into the spring, the uncertainty is among the biggest challenges which is faced by households nationwide.

For Ms Taylor, it is not simply the fact that her daughter is faced with weeks of home-schooling and the impact that could have on her education.

She said: “I’m more worried about the social side for Gabriella, it will soon have been a year since we had normality and were able to see other family members and friends.

“Day-to-day things like playing with her friends and sorting out arguments in the playground, she’s missing out on it all and that stuff will prepare her for high school.

“As long as she’s healthy, that’s what matters. I won’t put too much pressure on her with work.”

Susan Bell, who co-runs a clothing donations bank in Brotherton, near Knottingley, has seen first-hand the issues which parents are facing as they struggle to support their families financially.

Mrs Bell’s organisation, the Clothing Bank, is accepting donations at dozens of drop-off points around Yorkshire.

She said: “Many people have lost their jobs after furlough, and a lot of the people we’re helping are still in work. One of the cases I’ve seen was a couple who had started a business just before lockdown in March, and now they’ve lost everything.

“There’s so many people struggling now and we’re in big demand. But when we’re asking parents if they need our support, most of them are saying no, and that they want us to put their children first.

“I’ve seen a man who broke my heart, he was crying and saying that he just wanted to provide for his family but he couldn’t.

“We see people from all over the place, we’ve posted clothes to Scotland, Wales and London.

“Now people are being told to stay at home, there’s a demand for jumpers to make sure people who can’t afford heating can stay warm.”

The anxiety surrounding the latest lockdown is being felt particularly keenly among the elderly, whose hopes of returning to some semblance of normality had been raised with the roll-out of the vaccine programme in the fight against coronavirus.

Margaret Jameson is among those pensioners deemed to be among the most vulnerable in England, receiving the first dose of the Pfizer jab in Northallerton on December 10.

“It was absolute elation. Like magic,” said the 81-year-old from Thirsk, adding that her hopes had risen last month that an end to the pandemic was in sight.

But the arrival of the latest lockdown following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Monday evening has meant Mrs Jameson is faced with a return to shielding at home as much as possible.

She said she has been given no guidance as to whether having the first dose still means a return to full shielding, and she must now wait for up to 12 weeks for her second injection, after it was cancelled according to government guidelines, a decision that left her “crushed and absolutely at rock bottom”.

Mrs Jameson, who lives alone, said: “I will still be going out to do my shopping just so I can see people.

“I try to keep busy and make lots of phone calls every week as a volunteer for Sporting Memories Northallerton, we’re keeping that going through lockdown.

“I do a weekly exercise class on Zoom, and normally I’m a person who goes out and does things, so it’s taken some adjusting.

“I don’t let myself go down the avenue of feeling lonely. I keep my spirits going.”

Although the Government has committed to a £4.6bn rescue package, businesses being told to close their doors once again has had a devastating impact.

Shops are locked up and high streets normally bustling with January sales shoppers are empty.

David Binelli, 59, who owns two clothing alteration shops in York city centre, has welcomed the closures after experiencing a huge decline in footfall over the usually busy Christmas period.

He said: “There were no customers on the high street. Just because you’re open, doesn’t mean you’re trading.

“Provided the Government pays enough in grants, subsidies and furlough, for us it’s better being closed than it was open.

“But if the Government does not pay the rent and subsidise VAT and other bills, there won’t be businesses for furloughed staff to go back to.

“For my business, if people can’t go to parties, proms or weddings, they don’t buy clothes to have altered. So services like mine have felt it terribly.

“The turnover on my shop on The Shambles has been down about 70 per cent.

“It doesn’t seem fair when large supermarkets can open selling clothes and DIY equipment, but independent clothing and DIY shops have to close. Supermarkets are profiting from independent shops’ loss in that respect.

“Anyone with any sense could see lockdown was coming. You only have to have been in York a few times over the past couple of months or so to see people had forgotten we were in the middle of a pandemic.”

For most, the day this third lockdown eases cannot come quickly enough.

As we all adjust to more weeks of spending time in our homes, the isolation is an all-too familiar feeling for many.

“All I want is a hug from my family,” said Mrs Jameson. “My niece sent me a little wooden disc which says pocket hug on it, which I have with me every day.

“But I just want to feel one of my loved ones wrap their arms around me again.”