Coronavirus: Sheffield residents plead with people to obey lockdown

“I’m praying to God Sheffield will listen”.

There are positives to hold onto, and the people of Fawcett Street in Sheffield are doing just that.

They’re also cherishing the spring sunshine, the blossom in the trees and the idea that this crisis might just bring us closer together at a time when we are being kept apart during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Boomerang pub at the top of the street has been closed for a few days now, some of the outlets in their parade of shops have been shuttered for months.

But day one of the national coronavirus lockdown brought with it the jolting realisation that this is real.

For some, this is genuinely scary.

Sheffield local and single parent Serena Philadelphia said she was “praying to God that Sheffield will listen and just respect what everyone is saying,” referring to the nationwide Government lockdown announced on Monday.

She had just finished her morning shift at the local school where she was serving food to the children of frontline NHS key workers.

“You look at how hard the NHS are working, how hard the supermarket staff are working and how hard we are working and I’m just scared that a lot of people won’t listen,” she said.

Ms Philadelphia is listening.

She was straight back to her flat with her own young daughters to crack on with the task of keeping them happy, educated and informed of the changing world around them.

Her friend Tatum Jones stopped in her car, wearing a face mask and gloves, just back from dropping groceries to her 83-year-old grandmother.

“I have volunteered to help as much as I can, but it is scary and it is surreal,” Ms Jones said.

She too worries about how long the compliance of her whole community can be maintained.

“You just have to stick by the rules; as much as you think there is nothing to do, you have got to do it,” she said.

Her mother Hazel said everyone is scared.

“It’s unnerving, like a ghost town in most parts,” she said.

“You are reading things on social media and you don’t know what to believe so you try to switch off but then you can’t switch off because you need to know what’s happening.”

Further down Fawcett Street, sat in the sunshine of their cramped garden area, Mark and Donna Grant were digesting the letter that had dropped onto their doormat this morning.

It confirmed Mr Grant is one of the 1.5 million people that need to be shielded from society to protect them from contracting COVID-19.

Mr Grant has a serious lung condition that means the virus could prove fatal.

“I’m used to seeing my friends in Rotherham and everything and I can’t now, I just can’t,” he said.

Asked if he would follow the rules, Ms Grant butted in to say she’ll “make sure he does. Not half I will.”

Less than two metres away, in the nextdoor garden, their neighbour Paul Reeves was contemplating what it meant for him.

“I’ve got a type one diabetic son in there” he said, pointing to the door leading back into his flat.

“I’m on benefits and if they close my local shop – I’ve heard that’s what they’ve talked about – it’s where I get my electric and gas from so I would be able to do it.”

There is no manual for how the UK can survive this lockdown.

There will be moments that make us laugh and bring us together, and others that will push people to some of their darkest and saddest moments.

On Sheffield’s Fawcett Street, they will make sure those moments are shared if possible. It’s just a bit easier that way.

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