‘It feels like prison’ - the challenges of living in a flat in lockdown
PUBLISHED: 12:55 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:56 28 April 2020
People living in flats say life in lockdown is “like a prison” as figures reveal one in five people in Norwich are in the same position.
The data, from think tank Centre for Cities, looked at space available in different urban areas and found 21pc of people in Norwich lived in flats last year.
It says having enough room is important for people to be able to cope with current restrictions, and that councils should bear this in mind when considering social distancing measures.
For Melanie Milligan, a client advisor at Marsh, who lives in a city centre flat with no garden, said her home, under lockdown, was “beginning to feel like prison”.
Ms Milligan, who has respiratory issues and is on the NHS vulnerable list, has not been able to leave her flat in 52 days.
She said: “I don’t have any spare space and it is harder to exercise and there is limited space to walk around. There is no change in scenery - it’s just four walls.”
Fresh air is normally a good remedy for Ms Milligan’s condition, but she said confinement in a flat has led to her health deteriorating
She added: “It does get stuffy and not being able to go to a green space or garden means I’m stuck breathing old air. I’m also concerned, with my condition, about the spread of the virus in the air. As I live centrally there are always people walking past and I am therefore reluctant to open windows.”
Nicole Brown, a cleaner, lives in a one-bedroom flat in Old Catton and said her living situation was having a bad impact on her mental health problems.
The 26-year-old, who has three mental health conditions including a personality disorder, said: “ It is mentally challenging seeing the same four walls day in day out and with no garden it is even more difficult.
“Being stuck inside a flat has caused bad depression symptoms. I usually see friends and family and go out a lot to help manage my symptoms and it has made living with my mental health difficult as I can’t go anywhere outside the flat. I’ve noticed the flat has had more of a negative impact on how I feel on a day to day basis. It is draining.”
Social media posts with people in their gardens have been hard to see for Miss Brown.
She added: “Some people have been gloating about sitting in their gardens sunbathing either alone or with family. I’m glad they are happy but at the same time it is insensitive to those people who don’t have that privilege.”
It is also a problem for Roisin Stanley, a sales assistant at Tesco, who lives in a two-bed flat in Mousehold with her fiancé and two sons, aged seven and three.
Her three-year-old son is autistic and, for him, no garden coupled with a small flat is a “nightmare”.
The 28-year-old said: “Even just some fresh green space would put us at ease. My son is non-verbal and he doesn’t understand why he can’t play in parks and thinks we are just trying to annoy him.”
Her two children share a bedroom and Ms Stanley said the lack of space has been “a huge strain” on the family.
She added: “None of us has our own space and the children’s room is box sized. It would mean the world if we were in a house as we are just on top of each other all the time and small things start building up. Plus we have a neighbour who parties at 3am which is incredibly frustrating.
“We have complained multiple times but nothing has changed and there is nothing else we can do about it.”
A noisy neighbour has affected Tom Stockwell, who lives in a one-bed flat near Norwich station, and the ability to work from home.
The 28-year-old said: “My neighbour plays terrible music at very early hours in the morning and throughout the day, every single day.
“He often also has screaming matches with his amazon Alexa or, I assume, his game console. If I wasn’t in all day I would be able to see the humour but when I’m working from home it is disruptive.”
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