Day 58 of (is it?) Lockdown – the Life in Lockdown edition

Life in LockdownDay 58 of (is it?) Lockdown

On day 58 we get the chance to finish what we started on day 57;  the Essex Life in Lockdown article inviting you to share your lockdown story. After that:

The People of Essex – share your stories

The Research and Citizen Insight team at Essex County Council are reaching out to residents of Essex to hear their experiences and share stories of what it has been like for you during this extremely challenging time. How has COVID-19 and the lockdown has impacted your life, how you’ve been getting on, how you have managed to stay connected with friends, family and your community and how you’ve been feeling throughout the lockdown period?

When lockdown was announced I froze, I cried, I was terrified. How would I get through it? How would I cope? All that time not seeing family.

I suffer from Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and anxiety & was ready for my mental health to take a nose dive. I decided that I had to be in charge & started making cards for those in isolation and people in care homes, I have since made and sent over 60 cards! Living in a village where the play park is closed, I decided to write and decorate Disney quotes and tied them to the railings to cheer people up. I also set up Zoo Trail within the village for children to find the animals and read facts about them. Now this has got bigger, we have a facebook group and people all over are taking part!

Helping others has helped me to keep on going through this difficult time!

The team created an Instagram and Facebook page called ‘People of Essex’ that shares stories from across Essex about lots of different topics. Last year we went out and spoke with residents about their communities and volunteering, and just before Christmas we spoke to people about what life was like living with a physical impairment. We would now like to use the people of Essex platform to reach out to Essex residents to share stories about life during COVID-19 and lockdown.

As many as possible please!

We would love to get as many stories as possible so that we are able to share people’s experiences – hopefully giving inspiration and hope to lots of people around the county of Essex. If you know anyone else, a friend, family member, someone in your community who would also like to share their story of what life in lockdown has been like, please share the email with them.

Please have a look at our Instagram and Facebook pages share with your friends

Interested, what do you need to do?

Just email your thoughts/story about your experience including a photograph. Your words and photograph will be published in a post similar to the examples above and will be public, which means everyone will be able to see them. If you are not happy with your story or photograph being shared please let us know, as it would still be great to hear about your experience, even if we do not publish it on our People of Essex social media page. Even once the story has been posted, you can let us know any time if you change your mind and would like us to take it down and delete it.

If you would like to take part, please email your stories and photographs to:

If there’s anything more you’d like to know or you’d like to have a chat with someone from our research team first, email [email protected] and we will pass your details on.

Consultation on Police Priorities

The Coronavirus pandemic delayed the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections by 12 months. Our current Police and Crime Plan for the county is dated until 2020 so we want to update the plan to take it up to 2021. We want to build on the progress that has been made in the last four year and help the service, our county and the country adapt to the challenges of COVID-19.

We have been working on this and have used public feedback from our recent and long running #MakeADifference survey to make some revisions. Our current seven high level priorities remain largely the same with a slight change in alignment between gangs, organised crime and serious violence priorities to reflect the Violence and Vulnerability agenda.

The commitments, or “we will” statements we make under each priority are being updated. These need to be achievable within one year, and wherever possible, tangible. These changes are what we would like your view, as our valued partners, on.

Our timeline is tight and to make collating your views as easy as possible we have devised this short survey for you to complete

The survey will be open until 5pm on Friday, May 22nd .

Below are links to a briefing which further outlines how the revisions to the Plan will be developed and the full Police and Crime Plan:

Mental Health Awareness Week

Two news items on this today:

Mental Health & WellbeingFree Mental Health and Wellbeing Courses

As part of our Mental Health and Wellbeing Programme, Essex County Council, ACL have launched a series of free online courses to support people at home during this challenging time of social distancing. Starting next week, courses last for 6-weeks for 2.5h per week. The courses are:

  • Positive Thinking for Stress Reduction
    You will learn how to understand the mind and body relationships of stress and how to engage positive thinking to reduce negative stress and improve wellbeing.
  • Reducing Anxiety and Staying Healthy
    Develop helpful routines, behaviours and thinking styles in staying healthy.
  • Self-Care for Resilience
    Boost your resilience and develop a self-care plan that nurtures and supports your wellbeing during these challenging times.
  • Virtual Health and Wellbeing
    Identify the components of health & wellbeing; develop and build a positive approach to health and wellbeing using discussion, activities and self-reflection.

To participate in these courses, learners will need a laptop or PC with webcam and microphone, internet connection with Google Chrome browser, an email address and be able to access websites.

Courses start next week, do not miss out! View the full range here.

Children’s Mental Health

This Mental Health Awareness Week, Steve Whitfield – a Senior Specialist Educational Psychologist at ECC – has shared the signs to look out for if you’re worried about your child’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s completely normal for children and young people to feel worried or anxious right now, but there is lots of local support available to help children, young people, parents and carers across Essex.

Remember, Every Family Matters and we’re here to help you through this. Listen to Steve below and for more information and resources, visit our Staying Well Children and Families page.

Garden waste bagsGarden Waste Collections to Resume

Collections of garden waste will restart on 25 May.

  • Special Collections for bulky items will restart on 1 June.
  • Temporary four-weekly collections of paper/card, cans, glass and plastics remain until 19 June.
  • Recycling and rubbish collections will return to normal on 22 June other than for textiles.

Colchester Borough Council is pleased to announce that thanks to additional measures, garden waste collections will restart on 25 May and take place on usual collection days on Green Weeks. Special collections for bulky items will then restart on 1 June and the recycling and rubbish collections will return to normal on 22 June.

Do not overload

It’s recognised that households may have a lot of garden waste from the last few weeks and be keen to put out as much garden waste as possible. To help protect staff and ensure crews can get to every household in the borough, please only put out the usual allowance which is either one brown wheelie bin or four garden waste sacks. Overflowing, heavy bins/sacks or waste placed at the side of bins can’t be collected.

If you have any excess garden waste and can hold on to this, please do so and put it out in stages over your upcoming garden waste collection dates.

The Council will be providing a temporary drop-off service for garden waste at several locations across the borough, starting 23 May.  This is to make up for missed collections during the service suspension and to support those households with additional garden waste. The details of this service will be made available online at www.colchester.gov.uk/gardendropoff before the weekend.

What you can do to help

  • Please share this information with your family, neighbours and friends in Colchester and check on your neighbours or family and offer to put rubbish and recycling collections out for anyone who is currently self-isolating
  • Continue to reduce and reuse your garden waste through home composting and mulching. Visit Essex County Council’s top tips on the Love Essex website and buy a reduced price compost bin from www.getcomposting.com
  • Hold on to and stagger putting excess garden waste out for collection. If you’re unable to store your waste safely, you can you can take it to Essex County Council’s Recycling Centre in Shrub End. Please expect long queues. More information on new site restrictions can be found at  www.loveessex.org/newrules.

To ensure the service can continue to operate across the borough the temporary four-weekly collections of paper/card, cans, glass and plastics will remain in place until 22nd June.  All the recycling collections, excluding textiles, will return to normal as fortnightly collections from 22nd June. This approach will support our staff who are already lifting and moving higher volumes than normal.

To help with this latest update, an updated temporary recycling calendar to reflect the next four weeks of temporary changes until the service returns to normal on 22 June, will be available later this week. To view and download this, use our postcode look-up tool at www.colchester.gov.uk/your-recycling-calendar .

Once the collections return to normal on 22 June, please use the 2020/21 recycling calendar which covers the period until March 2021 or visit www.colchester.gov.uk/recycling to check your collection information.

Residents on assisted collections and flats with communal rubbish and recycling collections, will continue to receive their normal service.

Environment & Highways – 14th May 2020

The Environment & Highways Committee of West Bergholt Parish Council met via Zoom on 14th May 2020 and discussed:

  • Lockdown activities,
  • Village ponds,
  • Handymen activities, and
  • Play Area.

Read the full report here.

ECC COVID-19 Financial Impact

Essex County Council has detailed its financial position as a result of expenditure and loss of income in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Essex County Council has currently approved spending decisions totalling £74.5m which are directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The majority of decisions relate to additional Adult Social Care costs plus Excess Deaths management and reduced income across a wide range of services.

Future Cost Pressures

The report to Corporate Policy and Scrutiny Committee explains there are likely to be future cost pressures or potential income losses, for which the Council has not yet taken decisions, including supporting Operation Shield, additional children’s social care costs and anticipated under-achievement of savings plans where resource capacity has been redirected to focus on the pandemic.

These other pressures are estimated at £32.2m, which equates to a total value of £106.7m. The forecast position is before taking account of any underlying losses on council tax and business rates, which are critical to making decisions about spending commitments given they are key to ECC’s financial sustainability.

Emergency Funding

The Council is hugely appreciative that to date it has received £37.4m as its share of the first tranche of additional emergency funding from central government and is due to receive a further £26.2m from the second tranche, therefore a total of £63.6m. This leaves an estimated shortfall of £43.1m. We hope to reduce that through working with Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to secure some of the national £1.3bn government funding provided to the NHS. However, it remains the issue that we have not yet got COVID funding from government to the level of our spending commitments – without future emergency funding we will need to make difficult decisions on how we prioritise our constrained resources.

Reporting to Central Government

Like all local authorities across the country, ECC is updating the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) on the financial impacts of the pandemic on a monthly basis and this is informing the Government’s decisions on any future emergency funding allocations.

Further to the impacts seen to date, there are key points to note on further financial risks. The current risk exposure could be an additional £128m when taking into account estimates for items such as:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) given recent government guidance.
  • Adult Social Care Self-funders, should the requirements on local authorities be broadened.
  • Ongoing impact(s) across adults and children social care post the response phase. (E.g. higher numbers remaining in residential beds, in the care system and accessing mental health support).
  • NHS Emergency Period ceasing before ECC contractual arrangements, reducing funding availability.
  • Future waves of the pandemic increasing demand further.
  • Tax revenues being at considerable risk due to the number of new Universal Credit (UC) applicants nationally.

Uplifting Songs

Today’s Google Doodle remembers Israel (IZ) Kamakawiwoʻole who would have been 61 today.  Here is his magical rendition of Over the Rainbow with the Google treatment:

Visiting a nature reserve you don’t often come across somebody about to record a video singing about nature.  I did and here it is: