Behind the scenes with the circus troupe stranded in Morecambe due to Covid-19 lockdown

For one small community, life under lockdown in Morecambe has been even more unusual than for most people.

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 4:15 pm

The 35 adults, four children and four dogs that make up Big Kid Circus have been stranded at their site on Morecambe Prom since the government enforced its lockdown last month.

They didn't even get to put on a show for the resort, as the coronavirus restrictions were brought in just days after they arrived in town.

And this week the Big Kid 'family' said a massive thank you to the people of Morecambe who have been so generous in helping them out during the difficult last few weeks.

Some of the Big Kid Circus family, with Olympia Posirca front left, and the Morecambe Bay Foodbank delivery drivers.

The group are also grateful to Lancaster City Council for their support, along with Morecambe Police and Morecambe Bay Foodbank.

The little community - the youngest just two years old and the oldest 91 next month - is made up of several different nationalities, including Romanian, Bulgarian, Cuban, Chilean and Moroccan as well as English.

But although many of them are thousands of miles from their homes and families, they all still have smiles on their faces, despite being left with next to no money and relying on handouts from Morecambe residents.

As word spreads around the camp on Monday morning that the Morecambe Bay Foodbank delivery van has arrived with supplies, men, women and children appear from caravans to queue patiently for boxes of food and other essentials.

Big Kid Circus is stranded in Morecambe for the duration of the UK coronavirus lockdown.

"Thank you, thank you" they call out in heavily accented English as they struggle to lift the heavy boxes which will keep them going for another few days.

Among them are gymnasts, dancers, trapeze artists and a clown, who all descended on the UK in February to begin a season of entertaining people with the circus.

But life has taken a very different turn for them, and they are now living day to day in their caravans, unsure as to when they will next be able to work and make any money to live.

Pam Enos, 66, was born into the circus life. Her mother is still with the troupe at the age of 90.

Morecambe Bay Foodbank delivers supplies to the Big Kid Circus community, while the artists queue to collect their share.

But she has never known anything like this.

"A lot of them came over in February for the shows, but because of Storm Ciara and then this, they have only been able to do about two weeks' work so far," she said.

"We were only meant to be in Morecambe for a week, but as soon as we came here and got the tent up we went straight into lockdown.

"The group is trying to keep as active as possible; we have a gym set up on site and they are continuing to rehearse for the shows as much as they can.

Morecambe Bay Foodbank delivers supplies to the Big Kid Circus community.

"We are lucky that we have got a big space here for the kids to play.

"The people here have been amazing. Some of the artists only came over with a little suitcase, so they have nothing. One lady brought some clothes over for some of the girls to wear.

"I don't know how they cope to be honest. Some of them were getting really worried in the beginning because they didn't really understand what was happening.

"Lancaster City Council has been amazing. We have got electricity and running water here for washing, and they are collecting the bins for us.

"The police have also said it all right for us all to mingle together because we are like one big family."

Pam's daughter Olympia Posirca is the circus ringmistress.

Big Kid Circus is stranded in Morecambe for the duration of the UK coronavirus lockdown.

She's currently spending lockdown in a small caravan with her husband, two young children and dog.

The financial worries are hanging over the whole camp.

The artists are not eligible for any government support as they are not EU or UK citizens.

"We pay tax but we don't have a place that we pay rent on, so we don't fall into any category to be eligible for anything from the government," Olympia, 31, said.

"If it wasn't for the council letting us stay here we would be stuck with nowhere to go. I don't know what we would have done.

"Even when this is all over we will still have nothing, because there's so much we have to pay for like insurance and licenses."

Originally from Rotherham, Olympia is the 12th generation of her family to be born into the circus, and despite taking time out to study musical theatre at university she returned to her family's way of life.

While her mother and grandmother are also with Big Kid Circus, her father, who is in his 70s, is currently stranded in Hungary, where he was working as a clown with a circus.

"It's not just a job for us, it's our life," she said. "I couldn't envision ever doing anything else. This is what we do.

"We know the stereotypes of circuses that some people have, but these people want to work. They would work in a factory to help if they could, but they are on restricted visas so they can't even get other jobs while they are here.

"A couple of them with driving licenses are volunteering with the foodbank because they want to give something back.

"The foodbank came down because they had been told by the police that we were too proud to ask for food.

"We didn't want to be seen as begging, but we are in a situation where any help is amazing.

"The public have been absolutely fantastic. People will walk past and ask if we need anything. We can't thank everybody enough.

"Morrisons also rang to ask us what we needed, so they could put some things aside for us. We are always desperate for bottled water as it's the only water we can drink here, and it hadn't even occurred to me that we needed things like nappies and women's toiletries until people asked us.

"Hopefully when this is all over we will finally be able to perform here as a thank you. We also want to do a show for the NHS and key workers.

"I have always had a fondness for Morecambe but even more so now. We are just so lucky that we were here when it happened.

"At the moment we just can't see an end. There's rumours going around that pubs won't reopen until Christmas. We just want some definite information so that we know what to do, because we are just in limbo at the moment."

The group have been putting some of their previous shows online for people to watch while they can't perform live, and to help raise a little money towards their upkeep.

Go to https://www.circusonline.tv/ to find out more.

Some of the artists' rehearsals are also being recorded for their Facebook page.

They are also looking for anyone who is able to donate or lend any children's toys or bikes for the duration of their stay.

Big Kid Circus is stranded in Morecambe for the duration of the UK coronavirus lockdown.