Stephanie Darkes moved to Exeter from London in 2015, and has been running an online blog called Exploring Exeter, since then. She is also a keen published multimedia journalist, writing for several publications including Devon Life and Exeter Life
When we got news of the lockdown in March 2020, my knee-jerk reaction was – what can I do to help? The answer came to me relatively quickly in the form of a Facebook page my friend had set up: Exeter Area Coronavirus Community Support. I offered to help, and our little team of two soon became four as we gathered volunteers from across the city, with the aim of linking up people in each area and helping them to set up hub groups of volunteers along with sending people who needed help to the groups. After a demanding few weeks of juggling this and homeschooling, along with emergency Comms for my day job, we passed all our contacts and spreadsheets to the Council and to the local Community Builders … and breathed a sigh of relief.
My involvement left me feeling very much in awe of our Exeter community. I felt the need to share my experience creatively, with words and photography. During lockdown number one, I embarked on my doorstep photography project, inviting people across the city to share their lockdown stories with me, and, in turn, sharing these stories with the people of Exeter through my Exploring Exeter social media, on my blogzine, and in Exeter Life magazine. During this journey, I have laughed, cried, and been humbled in equal measures; I’ve been incredibly moved by so many acts of bravery and kindness, and I’ve recognised that for some just getting through this makes them a hero.
Stephanie is still taking pictures and gathering stories that will be exhibited in Exeter Library and in a book. Keep your eyes peeled for more details and follow my social media for updates!