Beyond the Headlines: People of the Pandemic, London

This portrait series celebrates and amplifies the voices
of the unsung heroes we never knew we would need. In the coming
weeks we’ll be spotlighting various people and places around the
world – this first collection was shot in London.

witnessing panic buying, stockpiling and empty shelves at
a local supermarket, we chatted to customers and staff (from a safe
distance) to reveal the
human stories
behind the headlines.

Aldi Store Assistant

These are the heroes we never knew we would need. This portrait
series is a celebration of them. Let’s amplify their voices by
sharing their words.


Aldi Deputy Store Manager

“Before this, I was a lift engineer, a painter and decorator, a
sparkie. I can do electrics. Yesterday was the worst day I’ve ever
worked – ever – and I’ve been trapped in lifts before!

“We’ve got a new rule… a limit of four of one thing, per
customer, yeh? We have to limit it for the people, to make sure
everyone gets one. This girl on the till, Brieanna, young girl,
she’s like 20 or something, all these customers were coming up to
her, she’s crying her eyes out, I had to get her off the till. I
went on it instead and said: ‘Guys, let’s not do this, we’re all
human beings. We’re in this together.’

“I’m usually a calm person. I do yoga as well. I didn’t lose it,
I kept my cool. I try to help the customers who really need


Events Manager

“They call me Tower. I’m an events manager, so I do things like
Glastonbury and Isle of Wight Festival. At the moment they’re
saying that everything is postponed until, like, September.

“I’ll be alright for a little while. I’ve tried to have the
attitude of not being that bothered about it, but I do understand
[the panic]. Like, my mum is quite ill and there are a bunch of
other people who are in the same position. I’ve picked up some
things for her; I got some fruit because they were all out of



“I just wanted to get some food for my daughter, Nova.”

We shot this portrait of Roberta outside Aldi, where, each day
for several weeks, people have been queueing around the corner. She
was with her daughter, Nova, and was one of the many mums who told
us that they had struggled to get what they needed for their
families – milk powder and nappies were in high demand.

It’s a stark reminder that we need to leave something behind for
the person shopping after us. It might be Roberta and her daughter
who are missing out. There is enough for us all. We’re all in this



This is Paul. When we asked him what he managed to get in our
very-busy and very-empty local Aldi, he said: “Nothing.”

Rob Billionaire


“People are grabbing so much stuff they’re not even looking at
the sell-by dates.”


Aldi Store Assistant

We want to shine a light on the unsung heroes of the coronavirus


Aldi Store Assistant

“I’ve got two daughters and I’m trying to teach them how to be
compassionate and polite. I don’t see it here. I just don’t see it.
It’s really sad.

“I was singing ‘Where Is The Love?’ by The Black Eyed Peas,
earlier. I was like, let’s just try and get a good atmosphere. To
come together around this. I’m trying to explain to customers, we
don’t need 10, 15 or 20 of one thing. Leave a few on the shelf for
another customer, for people who can’t bulk buy, who might not have
the opportunity of getting here at 8am in the morning. They look
you dead in the eye like it doesn’t make a difference, and that’s
what we deal with.

“So when people say, ‘How are you doing?’ I’m like “I’m fine! I
get paid to do this.’ But deep down, we’re disgusted. It’s just…
we’re meant to be coming together. God forbid we have a real



“I live just across the road with my sister, Laure.”



“I can see the queues out the front of Aldi from my bedroom
window. We chose a quiet time to visit, but now there’s nothing

Laure and Audrey


“There wasn’t much left, but at least we got our pizza for



“I start work at 7am so I can’t get here early. It’s tough mate…
I’m a single father. My daughter is 13. She helps out a lot but, as
soon as she finishes school, I tell her to go straight home. I
don’t want her to see this, you know what I mean? I don’t even want
to send her to the shop, or anything.

“Her mother passed away, so I’ll probably need to take time off
work soon. My employers, they’re alright, they understand my
situation. But am I going to keep getting paid? I don’t know. Are
we going to get sick pay? In
, they are paying 75 per cent, in Portugal,
I think they’re paying 65 per cent… but here, we don’t know.
There’s big confusion. I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to
pay the rent.”


Aldi Store Assistant

“Yesterday was the worst day of my life. People shouted at me so
much they made me cry. Then a customer bought me flowers and it
made my day.”