Life under lockdown in Oxford for people without a garden

THE coronavirus lockdown has exposed many of the lines which divide the lives of different people across the UK. One divide which has had a very stark effect on people’s lives is whether they have access to a garden of their own. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, one in eight households in the UK do not have their own garden.

ALSO READ: Council to spend ?230,000 on social distancing measures in Oxford In Oxford, the picture varies area by area (See ONS map below for details). In Marston, only 1 per cent of homes are without a garden, but others are not so lucky.

The neighbourhoods where homes are least likely to have gardens are the city centre (35 per cent without gardens), Woodfarm and the area surrounding the Churchill hospital (34 per cent), and Osney and Jericho (31 per cent). For some of those without a garden, life has continued without much hardship, while for others having to work and stay within the same four walls has taken its toll. Some of Oxford’s residents have shared their experiences of life without access to their own green space under lockdown.

Kylie Murray Kylie Murray lives in a flat on Jeune Street, off Cowley Road.

She said she felt people without gardens had been forgotten about. Ms Murray said: “Some days, I feel very afraid, and there have been days with lots of tears.” But being trapped inside without easy access to a garden has led her to ask for donations of plants to brighten up her flat.

She added: “I thought if I couldn’t access the garden, I’d bring the garden inside.” A post in a Facebook group led to three plant donations being sent to her, and she has since bought 12 orchids from a wholesaler. Ms Murray has also been sending orchids out to people to cheer them up, including her friends, her GP surgery, and a teacher from school she has kept in touch with.

She said: “It’s been great hearing people similarly uplifted by having a bit of life and colour brought inside- even if they have a garden. It’s not the same as a bouquet of flowers, which die after a couple of weeks; orchids can live for decades.” Tom Pocock

Tom Pocock shares a flat with his wife and daughter, and said the last few months had consisted of living ‘between coping and hoping days within the same four rooms’. Mr Pocock said: “My wife and our little girl always wished we had a garden space to even a balcony like some of the other flats on our building, but we have always made the most of our time to go somewhere and do or see somewhere.” He added: “We go for a walk once a day and have some ideas of some places we could drive to now the lockdown measures have been relaxed slightly which will help I’m sure.”

ALSO READ: Brexit settled status worries in Oxfordshire Decorating the flat has been a priority for Mr Pocock and family since lockdown started, and he said it had helped to keep the family ‘mentally well’ during the pandemic. He said his wife is desperate to see her elderly grandparents in Gloucester, who have to stay indoors for 12 weeks as they are especially vulnerable to Covid 19.

Mr Pocock said: “She video chat or calls them daily to help keep their spirits high but often she will come off of the call upset and frustrated because she can’t help them more.” The family has also been using Joe Wickes’ videos to try to keep fit during the lockdown three or four times a week. But Mr Pocock added: “I will never be able to do a successful burpee!”

Charlotte Hill Life under lockdown in Oxford for people without a garden Charlotte Hill lives with her husband and two young children in Yarnton.

She said sharing their first floor flat has been challenging throughout the lockdown. Mrs Hill added: “I have also been having to work from home, and my husband is a key worker so has continued to work during this time. This has contributed to the stress levels, let me tell you!”

She said that explaining the virus to her three year old son and why it has limited the family’s movements has been tough. Mrs Hill said: “Normally, we would head to my mum’s house as she has a great garden, filled with their toys, but of course we haven’t been able to do this. “It’s affected my three-year-old quite a lot, as he knows we could normally go to the park, or Nanny’s house and explaining to him about the “nasty bug” taking away those kinds of privileges has been tough.

His response has been that we need to build a giant monster truck to put the nasty bug in jail.” Instead, the family has been heading out once every day in the late afternoon around their estate where they live. Mrs Hill added: “We also found a new section of wooded area we didn’t know existed so that’s been exciting.

There’s only so long that excitement will last though!”

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