As part of our campaigning and research into how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting women and women's work, we've invited women across the country to share their experience through a series of weekly diaries. Below is a snapshot of some of the concerns highlighted by our participants, as they share how they spend their days and what's been on their minds.

Changes to lockdown have been much discussed this week – with strong feelings about what should (or shouldn’t) happen next and how the exit strategy is being handled.

Last week we asked our diarists how comfortable they would feel doing a range of activities if the lockdown ends in the next month. Just under half of our diarists answered this question before the announcement by the Government last Sunday on the changes to the lockdown, with the remainder doing so in the day or two that followed.

The findings show that many are cautious about a return to day to day activities, such as using public transport or going to bars and restaurants – or even meeting with friends and family outside the household.

The chart shows responses from the 53 women who completed the diary last week. The numbers represent how many individuals gave an answer (they are not percentages). The diarists only answered the questions that applied to them – which is why fewer answered questions on going to work and sending children to school.

Some diarists were eagerly awaiting changes to lockdown. One explained her frustration with schools being closed. But overall, there was a feeling of anxiety among many of the diarists.

I feel really anxious about the so-called lockdown release, because I don't think I'll be given proper PPE and I don't think you can actually make it safe for people to visit our libraries. Likewise I'm worried about my customers, especially the ones who use us for computer access, but I don't know how we could make it work.
I don't agree with ending the lockdown next Monday due to the high figures of deaths still being reported; I despair at the competence of this government and fear for what the future holds for young people in particular.
I fear what will happen now with the lockdown being relaxed after Boris’s speech. In our busy part of Bristol it is often quite hard to find enough space to let the kids run a little bit free as it is.

The trickle of information on the Sunday night – followed by further details during the week – contributed to anxiety:

I'm answering this on Sunday night, after the revised lockdown measures were announced, so I'm feeling confused, angry, anxious, uncertain...trying to contain it all until clarity may come in the next few days.

And there was concern about those who are not included in the approach to exit:

I am anxious about lockdown ending... I have only a small circle of family and friends and every household is vulnerable, so an end to lockdown nationally, for us will not be an end to lockdown. I fear that we will never return to any sort of regular and spontaneous outdoors life or socialising without a vaccine.
I'm in a high-risk group, due to my age and chronic heart disease, I can't see lockdown ending for me. It being my daughter’s birthday this week, not being able to see her (particularly not being able to hug her) has especially brought home this sense of isolation and gloom.
I get angry if I think on it too deeply. Post lockdown, we are potentially looking at vast sections of the population becoming shut ins. I get angry at the inequality. I look at my parents' situations and wonder whether I will ever see either of them again, especially my Mom as she is in a care home.

Coronavirus is not the only health issue on the minds of our diarists. Some need treatment that is not currently available or are missing health support networks. This was mentioned by several diarists this week.

There's a letter pinned above my desk from the Gynaecology department that says my investigative surgery has been delayed for at least three months… but now my fear of going into a hospital is far greater than my fear of whatever the strange cysts in my body are doing.
I miss the contact with specialist cancer support. I had also only just started accessing wider post-cancer treatment support networks outside the NHS which are now suspended. I feel sad that those networks, which have taken years to establish may now be permanently broken as with so much else.

Some diarists shared how they are keeping in touch with others:

There are positives, video calls via messenger with my daughter and friends is one major positive and definitely helps keep me (and them) sane.
The family quiz is the highlight of my week -it’s entertaining and I get to see my daughter &family, sister & her family.

But while many are connecting with people online, for some of our diarists it was peak Zoom.

I’ve found the past week or so really hard due to the number and length of Zoom calls I’ve had to attend… I’ve been sitting down in front of a laptop far too much and muscles hurt and are stiff in new places like my arms - from lack of movement more than anything else.
It's so hard finding the balance between too much forced group socialisation over zoom and proper catch ups with friends and keeping a normal life going.
For some reason, this was the week of peak Zoom for me... at the beginning of the week I found myself faced with a Zoom date for every day and two on Tuesday.

This week, those completing the diary who live on their own are letting us know how they are getting on. For those who live with others, we are hearing how they are sharing the domestic load. Look out for more on this in next week’s blog.

We have shared here only a small snapshot of what the diarists generously share with us each week. Our sincere thanks to everyone who has taken part so far.

We want to hear from as many women as possible. If you would like take part in the diaries, please sign up below.

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