As the UK looks to mark the first anniversary of the first COVID-19 lockdown on 23 March, Sky News has spoken to one family who say they have lived constantly with the after effects of the virus for a year.
The first thing you notice about the grass in the Mountford-Hills’ back garden is how muddy and churned up it is.
In the last year – like many families – it is pretty much where they’ve spent most of their time.
Charlie, 37, her husband Zed, 41, and their five children – Nico, 15, Beck, 12, Indiana, 10, Emmett, 8, and Mimi, 5 – fell ill with the virus in March last year.
All of them – particularly the children – have been suffering ever since.
Charlie said the list of symptoms is “extensive”, including headaches, eye issues, nose bleeds, body rashes, horrific tummy pains, gastric issues, severe lethargy, allergic reactions, peeling hands, and feet and mouth ulcers.
“It’s such a long list that at times you can’t believe that they’ve all been related to this illness,” Charlie said.
Emmett said he struggles to sleep at night. “I get a really short amount of breath, so I have to wake up and take a deep breath to get more air,” he explained.
When we were there, the kids were having a kickabout at their home near Milton Keynes.
“When I’m exercising I always get short of breath,” Indiana said. “I’m struggling to breathe and I can’t really run around as much or keep going every time I play.
“One time I was in the living room just watching telly and I got this massive chest pain that sent me to hospital. I’ve just been really sick – getting these headaches and itchy legs, and I can’t do much about it.”
Charlie, a colonic hydrotherapist, has not been able to return to work yet.
“It’s been really tough because obviously my husband and I weren’t well either,” she said.
“So dealing with being unwell ourselves, and then dealing with five children who are sick, and two who were seemingly much worse and not really getting any support or answers, was really worrying, stressful, mentally tough as well as going through the physical illness.”
The family have been getting help from a support group, Long COVID Kids, which wants specialist clinics to be set up for children with the condition.
Charlie said the ordeal the family has been through “really made me question my sanity at times”.
She added: “Long COVID centres are being set up, but they’re not for children, so there is nowhere for them to be referred to.
“I’m really worried about the long-term health issues.”