Oldham’s Lockdown Museum: One year in Andy Powell

It is a whole year since lockdown began in the UK on 23rd March 2020. Soon afterwards, we began Oldham’s Lockdown Museum. The project asked local people to send in pictures and tell us what they were doing in a time of monumental change. Over the coming months, photographs poured in and together they create a revealing and sometimes moving snapshot of Oldham during lockdown. The Lockdown Museum tells amazing stories of how people came together to help one another, adapted their lives and businesses and found the strength to keep going in the most challenging of times. To mark the anniversary of lockdown, we have contacted some of the contributors and asked them to reflect on the last twelve months. This week we’re catching up with Andy Powell.

No. 4, Andy Powell, Digital Trainer and Consultant

Tell us a little bit about yourself and or your organisation. Who are you, what do you do? Where are you from?

Hi I’m Andy, I’m an Oldham lad who has tried to escape on more than one occasion but has always found his way back, I make a living being a geek, helping businesses with the internet by day and getting involved in things like 3d Printing facemasks and starting hackspaces by night.

Picture of Andy's Madlab with office table, tool bench and kitchen.
Andy’s Madlab Oldham HQ
  • Thinking back to 2020… What were you doing in March, when the first lockdown started?

For us, focus wasn’t on lock down, it was on my wife’s cancer treatment (now all resolved thankfully). I was juggling being self-employed, a dad and to a large extent a carer for a partner undergoing chemo therapy.

  • What suddenly changed for you when the first lockdown started? How did you adapt?

We soon realised that the outside world was suddenly a dangerous place for us as a family, not so much concerned for me or my son contracting Covid but bringing it home to the wife who was immunosuppressed, being quite a techy family we adapted quite well to living live online in our own little bunker.

  • What helped you through it, personally and professionally?

My life has always revolved around the internet, online shopping is normal, the boy is an online gamer so socialising for him carried on as normal, everybody wanted websites, so work wise we got busier. We knew we were the lucky ones, so we put our spare time into helping others, first 3d printing facemasks for the NHS, and now recycling laptops for families in need.

3D printed plastic grey and orange visor holders made by Andy Powell during lockdown.
The 3d-printed visor holders made by Andy Powell during the first lockdown
  • What has changed between the first, second and third lockdown?

For us very little, since lock down 1 we have done pretty much everything online, however we are very aware that others don’t take it as seriously. One stand out point for me was hearing the first plane after lockdown 1 and realising how quiet it had been beforehand. Now (during lockdown 3)when I walk the dog it just looks like a normal day.

NHS and Stay Safe signs hanging in a tree.
Andy passed this tree on Oldham Edge and watched it fill up with messages as lockdown progressed last year.
  • What, if any, have been the positives?

My business has grown, the wife now works full time for our company rather than returning to city centre work, and many of our clients have learned that travel and meetings are not required to discuss purely digital services.

Also we save a fortune getting married in “hazmat suit”s on Halloween.

  • What are your hopes for the rest of 2021 and beyond?

Not to have to think about Covid19, to get back to doing face to face techie stuff such as VR Workshops, and to get a holiday, or at the very least go out for a pint after walking the dogs with friends.

This is a series of blogs, take a look at more stories about lockdown life by visiting our blog page.