FOR many of us, life is getting back to normal.

Shops, pubs and restaurants are open again, and we can meet up with friends and family members for some long-awaited face to face interaction.

However, normality is becoming a distant memory for extremely vulnerable people - known as shielders - who may be at high risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus.

Alison Delves, from Dovercourt, has been shielding since March 23 under the Government’s advice.

The 53-year-old has brittle asthma and severe allergies, and has to take a lot of medication.

She said: “I received a text on March 23 to tell me that I had to shield and then a letter stating exactly what I had to do for the following 12 weeks.

“I adhered to this to the letter and did not leave the house only to sit in the garden.”

Miss Delves, who is a hairdressing teacher at Suffolk New College, then had to have a double hip replacement during the lockdown.

“As an asthmatic exercise is paramount to keep lung function at its best possible rate,” she added.

“Having two new hips means that I too have to take regular walking exercise each day to keep them in good muscle state.

“We have three dogs so I had been used to having a really long walk with them for at least an hour and a half.

“This was all cut short for me from March 23, and accompanied by working from home, long walks were abruptly stopped.

“Trying to get my daily steps up around the house and in the garden was near on impossible.

“This resulted in my asthma becoming worse, probably exacerbated by the anxiety of shielding.”

Miss Delves “religiously” watched the updates about Covid-19 in the hope that news about how long the vulnerable would have to carry on shielding would be explained.

She added: “Shielders feel like that they are the forgotten ones.

“Many days I would be in tears seeing and hearing that friends could at least go for a walk.”

Once the official advice came out that shielding people could go for one walk a day from June 1, life seemed more bearable for Miss Delves.

However, on June 5, on her second walk Miss Delves dislocated her newest hip, spent three days in hospital and now feels back at square one.

“I am sure that having no substantial exercise whilst shielding has had a huge impact on my hip and life in general,” she added.

“June 30 was the date that was given to shielders expecting that things could change again.

“As the forgotten ones we would just like to have some reassurance of when things may change.

“I follow shielding groups on social media which to me is a godsend as this gives me hope that I’m not the only one this situation.”

Miss Delves lives with her partner Tim, who initially self-isolated with her for ten weeks as he did not feel safe going to work in case he brought anything home.

But since his return to work Miss Delves has been getting more anxious at home.

She has only managed to see her mother - who is self-isolating too - and a few friends from a social distance in the past three months.

“I’ve not seen my daughter Yasmin since February as she lives up in Leeds,” she added.

“The pandemic has made me feel like I am grieving for my former life.

“Until I dislocated my hip I could at least work from home.

“The prospect of further shielding till August 1 is horrendous.

“I just want my life back.”