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The sign on the door at the One Stop Shop on Hessle Road is clear that face masks are required, but many customers ignore it. “Half of them don’t wear masks. There’s no point getting stressed about it,” said Andrew Sanderson, one of the cashiers, on his break.
Hull is currently the UK’s Covid hotspot, with an infection rate of 776.4 per 100,000 people, nearly triple England’s average. But in Gipsyville, a suburb to the west of the city, there were the equivalent of 1,129.5 infections per 100,000 people in the last seven days.
“There’s no sense people are limiting their shopping trips,” said Jean-Luc Sinclair, another One-Stop worker. “During the first lockdown people would queue patiently outside but now people just barge in.”
Customers come in several times a day to buy non-essential items, said Sanderson: “The bookies are closed so people are buying so many scratch cards. They buy one, go outside, scratch it, come in to claim the cash and buy another.” A few doors down, on the shutters of Coral, a betting shop, someone has graffitied: “Spread lov not Covid.”
The ward of Newington and Gipsyville is one of the most deprived in England. In 2015, 18% of households were living in fuel poverty, compared with the England average of 11%, and 31% of dependent children were classed as living in child poverty, compared with the England average of 17%.
A total of 2,017 people of working age (20.9%) in Newington & Gipsyville were claiming benefits in November 2016, compared with 17.6% for Hull and 10.7% across England.
On 9 November, all 420 pupils at Gipsyville’s primary school, Francis Askew, were sent home after an outbreak. It will not reopen fully until next Monday. Many parents are now scared to send their children back, said Gavin Storey, whose youngest child, Leah, attends the school.
The 54-year-old has Crohn’s disease and severe osteoporosis, leaving him vulnerable to infection and unable to work full-time since 1994. “Our Leah isn’t going back,” he said. “She’s frightened of bringing it [Covid] home and then her mam and dad die.” His older three children are also at home after Sirrius Academy West, the local high school, closed to all pupils except Year 8.
Like many in Gipsyville, Storey sniffs a government conspiracy. He definitely believes Covid is real. But he thinks it suits the ruling class to let the virus run riot through deprived communities like his, where you can buy a three-bed terrace for £52,000.
“It seems like they are trying to get rid of us,” he said. “That way when it’s over they won’t have to spend so much money around here. Let the kids go to school, spread it to their parents and then let them all die. Most of the people in the country who are on benefits will be dead.”
Over the road, Archie Field was celebrating his fourth birthday at home, his nursery closed and no friends allowed round to celebrate. He road-tested his mini police motorbike in the street as his uncle, Carl Waller, vented his frustrations.
Waller, 34, was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma last year. He didn’t leave the house once from March until September and was horrified to see the crowds in Asda the first time he ventured out. He blames Boris Johnson for setting a bad example. “He’s told everyone else to social distance and yet he clearly doesn’t do it himself because he’s in isolation again,” he said.
In the butcher’s shop on Hessle Road, a small boy of around 11 had been sent in to buy sausages and bread cakes. “Have you not got a mask, mate?” asked butcher Dylan Pougher. The boy shook his head.
Afterwards, Pougher speculated why Hull has been so badly affected this time around. He and many others were initially sceptical about the second lockdown because most people hadn’t known anyone who fell ill during the first wave, he said. “Only one relative got it last time around,” he said. This time around it’s two.
Many in Gipsyville are in low-paid, insecure work. One minimum wage worker complained of being threatened with disciplinary action after taking six days off work with Covid symptoms. “There is a lot of pressure to come in even if you are not well,” he said.
M Garton & Son, has been organising funerals for the residents of Gipsyville since 1888. Eric Wilson, one of the funeral directors, said Covid deaths were creeping up. “Last week, two out of 20 cases were Covid; this week it’s six out of 30. We’re only at the beginning of the second wave – I’d say we might be four, six weeks behind the rest of the country. But we’re prepared. We’ve got all the PPE, we’ve got the coffins. We’re ready.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Life in one of the most deprived and Covid-infected suburbs in England | World news