Features / coronavirus

Sharing stories of the Covid-19 pandemic

By lowie trevena, Friday May 22, 2020

A new project is telling Bristol’s stories of the pandemic and archiving what it has been like to live through the coronavirus crisis.

“These are unprecedented times and we believe everybody has a story to share, and everybody’s story is worth hearing,” says Kerry Mead, who founded 19 Stories.

The project, an online archive to share everyday stories of life during Covid-19, is a place for people’s collective memories of the crisis.

19 Stories began when Kerry asked her Facebook friends to share their experiences of being single or in a couple during lockdown, for an article I was writing for The Everyday magazine.

She has such a large response that the 43-year-old created a platform to share people’s stories, realising that it could not only become a useful resource, but one to support people’s mental health during a difficult time by encouraging people to be creative with writing and connect with others.

Kerry hopes the project will bring creativity into people’s lives. Photo: Nicky Takes Photos

“Many of us are experiencing things we never dreamt we would, coping with loss and change we never thought we would have to, and seeing our lives and society with fresh eyes and perspective,” Kerry says.

“It is important in times like this that everyone has an opportunity to get their stories heard. It can simply be a healing process, but it has the potential to actually change things as well if normal, everyday people can have their experiences counted and acknowledged.”

At the moment, Kerry is working with her friend, Bristol-based photographer and writer Von Icke, to edit and publish submitted stories.

Kerry, who lives in Eastville, has been getting the local community involved, to ensure all of the city’s stories get the chance to be told, saying: “I want the project to provide a space for a much wider range of people to tell their stories than I can reach through word of mouth amongst my friends and family, especially people whose voices aren’t heard so much in our communities, who may be suffering the most, whose stories most need to be publicised.”

Kerry has been collaborating with food distributors at the Plough Inn to spread the word. Photo: Plough Inn

She is currently working with the Plough Inn, who are spreading word of the project while delivering food to people throughout the city. Some of the stories received have been harrowing and difficult to read through, but Kerry is adamant that this is the kind of perspective that can change how people think of both the pandemic and other’s in Bristol.

Kerry will be continuing the project for “as long as people feel they have something to say about Covid-19”.

More stories and volunteers are encouraged to take part in the project.

“Whether you want to share how you have been coping, what has happened in your community, your work situation, whether you have survived Covid-19 or someone close to you hasn’t, we would love to hear from you. You can choose to be anonymous if you want as well.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t think your story is important or interesting enough; they all are!”

Kerry and Von Icke will also be needing more volunteer support to help with the website and editing as the project continues to grow with stories of the pandemic from each and every corner of Bristol.

“The pandemic has been a messy, difficult experience for many, full of grief and anger, but also hope.”

Find out more and take part at www.19stories.net

Main photo: Martin Booth

Read more: Spreading kindness throughout Bristol

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