Day 56 of (is it?) Lockdown – the Mental Health edition

Kindness mattersDay 56 of (is it?) Lockdown

If you’re feeling mentally frayed these days, day 56 sees the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.  We start with that and then address:

Mental Health Awareness Week

The theme this year is all about “Kindness Matters”, something we are already seeing a lot of during the COVID-19 crisis.

Kindness Matters

You may recognise the expression “it is better to give than receive”; did you know this is backed up by research?  People who are kind and compassionate see clear benefits to their wellbeing and happiness. They may even live longer. Kindness can also help reduce stress and improve our emotional wellbeing.    

We all have so much going on in our lives - including competing strains and stresses – not to mention the current coronavirus pandemic. This can see kindness pushed to one side, in favour of what is urgent or trending now.

It can be easy to signal kindness by posting online and following a trend, but harder to commit to kindness in our daily words and actions.

But if we take the time to be kind to other people, we can reap the emotional dividends. It can really make a difference and especially for people who are vulnerable or struggling.

Now is the time to re-imagine a kinder society that better protects our mental health.

Find out more here.


Since the start of lockdown Colchester Arts Centre director Anthony Roberts has been posting a different poem every day on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. Here is his poem #59 filmed at Wrabness.

Save yourself the endless scrolling through FB sign up to Ant’s Daily Poem below. Every day we promise to send you the daily poem direct to your inbox, just click on the link below.

South Weald country parkEssex Country Parks re-opening

Essex County Council is pleased to announce that all Essex Country Parks will be reopening on Thursday 21 May.

Following the easing of restrictions to outside space announced recently by the Government, ECC Country Parks team have been working over the past few weeks to put in place necessary safety measures to ensure the parks can open in line with government guidance, and ensuring visitors and staff can remain safe.

The parks, car parks and toilets will be open to the public, however the children’s play equipment, visitor centres and cafes will remain closed, in line with government guidance.

We would ask that all visitors using the Essex Country Parks follow social distancing rules, paying particular attention to these in areas such as the car parks and toilet facilities. We anticipate that the parks will be busy, and so ask residents to use their judgment in relation to their visit – considering the time of their visit and the park they choose to visit for example.

Necessary Changes

Changes that have been necessary to enable safe opening include:

  • Restricted opening hours, all country parks with open at 9:00am and close at 5:00pm
  • Once car parks are full we will have to limit access to the parks
  • A move to contactless debit or credit card payments for car parking, to avoid minimising contact with cash machines. Alternatively you can download the car parking payment app in advance of your visit, further information can be found here.
  • Fishing will be permitted during Park open hours. Cash payment on the day will not be accepted at Belhus Woods, Danbury and Weald. If you are intending to fish you will need to purchase a fishing pass online in advance of your visit. Please note ECC will only be offering day passes during this reopening period.

The Parks reopening on 21 May are listed below. Sky ropes and play equipment will not be available at any of our sites until further notice.

  • Belhus Woods Country Park.
  • Cressing Temple Barns.
  • Cudmore Grove Country Park.
  • Danbury Country Park.
  • Great Notley Country Park.
  • Hadleigh Country Park.
  • Marsh Farm Country Park.
  • Thorndon North Country Park.
  • Thorndon South County Park.
  • Weald Country Park.

Site of digSocially Distanced Archaeological Dig for Roman Road

CBC announced that Amphora Homes have given approval for a socially distanced dig at Creffield Road.  Archaeologists will start work on a four-week excavation before Colchester Amphora Homes start building work.  The dig should throw more light on the town’s remarkable Roman history.

Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT), which carried out an initial survey in December 2019, returns to the site today. Its initial explorations revealed the remnants of a two-mile Roman road; it ran in a straight line connecting the city of Camulodonum to the prestigious temple complex at Gosbecks.

Safer working measures

In keeping with social distancing requirements, CAT will implement new safer working measures, including a reduced team, staggered start and finish times and the digging of two trenches spaced two metres apart. Colchester Borough Council’s Archaeological Advisor, Dr Jess Tipper is supporting the investigation work.

CAT will be providing Amphora Homes with a filmed Dig Diary recording progress so that the public can have an opportunity to learn more about the site and share in the discoveries.

For more information on CAT visit

Social Distancing for kids China-style
Social Distancing for kids China-style

Essex preparing for phased school reopening

The following is a generic announcement, as & when we hear anything specific to Heathlands we will publish it here.

Updating Parents

Following the Government’s announcement earlier this week regarding the reopening of education and childcare settings, Essex County Council wants to update parents, school communities, and the wider Essex population on the work taking place to support reopening in the safest possible way.

In Essex, building on the Government’s plans, the return will take place on a gradual, phased and small-scale basis, allowing for local flexibility within schools in terms of class size, staffing, and the constraints of school buildings.

Phasing the Return

Earlier this week, the Government announced it may soon be feasible for early years children to return to settings and for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to schools in smaller group sizes from 1 June.

Secondary school pupils in Years 10 and 12 due to be taking exams next year (Years 10 and 11 for alternative provision settings as they have no Year 12) may be able to receive some face-to-face contact with teachers, and special schools may be able to gradually increase the number of children and young people on site, again from June 1.

Any return is contingent on the five key tests set by government justifying the changes at the time. This includes that the rate of infection continues to decrease.

Each School (or Setting) Reviewed Individually

Teams across the Council have been working with Essex schools and early years settings, and partners such the Department for Education, Ofsted, education professional associations, unions and other local authorities to prepare for reopening. Resources, experiences, and approaches are being shared across all education settings, giving school leaders a wealth of information and support, which will help them to make the best decisions to support their school community.

The safety of everyone in the school community will be paramount in our planning. Every school/setting will undertake a thorough Health and Safety Risk Assessment.  Contact will be minimised through smaller class sizes and mixing between groups will be reduced through timetable changes.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education, said:

I understand how uncertain this time is for parents and carers, and that following the Government’s announcement about reopening of education and childcare settings, parents will still have a lot of questions and concerns.

I want to reassure parents, carers and communities that our primary concern is the safety of all children, their families and staff. The support and guidance we are giving to all settings puts safety at the forefront.




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