Dr Sarah Lieberman and Dr Soeren Keil continue the discussion on their CEFEUS research project “The Impact of COVID-19 on Kent and Medway.”

When we first introduced the project “The Impact of Coronavirus on Kent and Medway” in May 2020, we were mostly interested in collecting personal stories from different people in Kent and Medway to demonstrate how this global epidemic affected people locally, and how people responded differently.

Since then, we have published a vast variety of stories from students and businesses, from sports coaches and people employed by Kent County Council. We looked at how coronavirus affected occupational therapy, and assessed why some businesses were better at dealing with the consequences of coronavirus and lockdown than others. What emerged from the contributions we published all through the summer and early autumn 2020 was a picture that on the one side demonstrated how much coronavirus is affecting our daily lives, our social interactions, our work and our health, while on the other side we also saw how innovation, mental resilience, flexibility and human kindness can make a huge difference in these challenging times.

Yet, six months after we started publishing the first series of blogs, we find ourselves in a similar situation to that of May 2020. Kent and Medway are once again in lockdown, although it is not quite as severe as the one from March 2020 onwards, as schools and universities are staying open. People once again find themselves limited in their ability to socialise with others, to meet family members and friends, or to hang out in pubs, bars and restaurants. Cinemas are shut once again (and who knows when and how many of them will re-open), sports centres and other major non-essential business closed their doors for customers.

Once again, we are seeing the drastic effects of this on people’s livelihoods, jobs, health and mental wellbeing. Yet, once again we are seeing new forms of innovation, new forms of adaptation and resilience and kindness helping people to cope with these challenging circumstances. In light of these developments, we have decided to revisit some of our initial stories, collect new ones, and continue our collection of personal stories from lockdown and its aftermath in Kent and Medway. We will publish these contributions in the coming weeks and if you feel you have a story to share please do get in touch.

Sarah Lieberman is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Canterbury Christ Church University. She is Co-Director of the Centre for European Studies.

Soeren Keil is Reader and Subject Lead in Politics and International Relations at Canterbury Christ Church University. He is Co-Director of the Centre for European Studies.