A North West photographer has shed light on the loneliness and social isolation of those who lived alone during lockdown.
Vilija Skubute, form Lithuania, currently based in Greater Manchester, created the photography project ‘Alone’ which looks deeper into the isolation of a lockdown on the older generation.
Since March 2020, many elderly individuals have survived three lockdowns on their own.
The 36-year-old told Merseynewslive: “When the pandemic hit the UK the social distancing guidelines had a negative social impact on all of us.
“Normally we do not consider the social isolation or loneliness faced by the older generation.
“This has become our normal perception of society and is widely accepted.”
Vilija’s inspiration for the project came from her father-in-law, who was living alone.
She said: “My husband’s father was one of the people highly affected by the pandemic.
“At 83 years old he is living alone.”
She said: “My aim was to show that even if people live alone and experience social isolation, they do not necessarily experience loneliness.
“Some people experience common struggles that, if shared, can create a community and feeling of belonging between the individuals.”
The yearlong project partnered with charities such as Salford Age UK, Age UK Manchester and Inspiring Communities Together to find the participants.
She added: “All the participants received disposable cameras so that they could document their day-to-day experiences.
“For most of the participants communication via phone or Zoom was a helpline.
“At this age demographic it was difficult and worrying to go out and see someone even when socially distanced.”
Vilija also emphasised how the feeling of isolation for many elderly people was evident prior to the pandemic.
She said: “For many individuals who live alone in this community the feeling of isolation did not start with lockdown and will not end now restrictions have been lifted.
“If the work allows other elderly people to see that whilst living alone they are not alone in their experience, this may help bridge gaps between these isolated members of society.”
Age UK Merseyside has offered support and advice for the elderly, especially since the pandemic begun.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director said: “This pandemic has been tough for everyone.
“Older people have the added anxiety of knowing that for them the risks of catching Covid-19 are higher.
“We have rightly heard a lot about the enormous problems facing older people in care homes. It has been proven that life has been challenging for many that were cooped up for month after month in their own homes too.”
More than half of over 60s are less likely to be in any contact with family.
Kathy Shaw, 73, from Huyton, was living alone throughout lockdown.
She said: “Lockdown for me was hard, I missed my normal life, I missed seeing my family.
“You don’t realise how much you take for granted when you can’t do those things anymore.”
The retired shop assistant added: “Although I felt isolated during that time, it has made me appreciate life a bit more.”