Your Essex - November edition

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A park with a winter fog and the sun glinting through the clouds

This edition of Your Essex features a range of services and free resources designed to support your mental health and wellbeing during the current national lockdown restrictions.

Find what you're interested in:

Coronavirus update

You can find the latest coronavirus information and support on our website, including the weekly data for Essex and changes to our services.

Celebrating our local legends

A huge thank you to everyone who is doing what they can to reduce the spread of Covid and support our communities when they need it most.

Here are some great stories from around Essex.

Flo standing next to the freshly baked pies she baked for her community

Thank you, Flo

Flo (pictured) is 89 years young and lives in sheltered accommodation in Dovercourt. During the pandemic, she's been cooking delicious pies from scratch in her kitchen.

They've been delivered to vulnerable and elderly people through the NEST and Harwich Community Centre hot meals service.

Liz the nurse standing in a hospital in full PPE

Thank you, Liz

Liz (pictured) is a nurse who has been treating Covid patients throughout the pandemic.

"This photo is me in March getting ready to care for my first ever Covid patient. I was terrified. I was so afraid I wouldn't be up to the task of caring for these patients. I didn't know what to say to their families.

"Now, unfortunately, I'm an old hand at Covid nursing."

Tom aged 6 holding a sign saying 'Essex and Herts Air Ambulance'

Thank you, Tom

Six-year-old Tom (pictured) has raised £576 for Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, a charity that's been struggling in recent months.

Tom was rescued by the Earls Colne-based service when a mountain bike shattered his leg two years ago.

Do you know of a local legend who's been helping others through the pandemic? Tag us on Facebook @EssexCountyCouncil and we'll share your story in our next edition.

Mental health support

If you're struggling with your mental wellbeing at the moment, you're not alone. Here are some services that can help, or visit our website to find more support for residents.

Get help from the Essex Wellbeing Service

Essex Wellbeing Service logo

The Essex Wellbeing Service can help with mental health, debt, housing, employment, caring responsibilities, practical tasks and much more.

Visit the Essex Wellbeing Service website or call 0300 303 9988.

Support for vulnerable groups


If you are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid, you can get support to stay safe and well. We've received extra funding to provide the help you might need, from practical tasks to mental wellbeing.

Find support for vulnerable groups on our website.

Check in with your child


As we continue to adjust to national restrictions, check in with your child to see how they’re coping.

One conversation could make a big difference to their mental health and wellbeing. A simple question may be all it takes for your child to open up about how they’re feeling. You could start by asking how they are finding things at school or college, what they’ve enjoyed, or anything that’s caused them to worry. 

Remember, you’re not alone – every family matters. If you or your child need any advice or support, visit Staying Well on our website for more information. 

Staying healthy, happy and well

A new hobby, a good book or a bit of fresh air can do wonders for your mood and outlook. Why not try some of these activities today?

Get out into nature with the Autumn Challenge


We're well into autumn and Essex is brimming with colour. Take the children exploring with our Autumn Challenge: can they find five or more of these seasonal sights on your next walk?

Get your Autumn Challenge checklist on the Explore Essex website.

Work out from home

personal trainer Ant holding a sign saying 'be healthy & stay active'

Active Essex's new live workout schedule can help you relieve stress and reduce anxiety while improving your physical fitness.

Ant (pictured) is a PE specialist primary school teacher who runs family-themed workouts. All you need to take part is a small space and some simple equipment. Other workouts include Seated Yoga, Easy Meditation and Pilates in your PJs.

Find a workout on the Active Essex website.

Take up a new hobby

ACL Essex's wide range of free online courses are a great way to develop your skills or give something new a go.

someone drawing a pot using a pencil

Their art courses include:

  • Drawing and Painting
  • Watercolour Workshop
  • Drawing: The Basics
  • Painting For Beginners: Creating Colours
Homemade cushions

Their creative courses include:

  • Photography for Beginners
  • Crazy Patchworking for Beginners
  • Clothes Making for Beginners
  • Upholstery: Upholster a Chair
  • Flower Arranging
  • Jewellery Making

Browse courses on the ACL website.

Give home composting a go

autumn leaves

People who suffer from anxiety or depression can find gardening and caring for plants incredibly beneficial.

It's the perfect time to clear the garden of fallen leaves and start a new compost bin. You can use any annual plants you pull out of the ground to help speed up the process.

Learn how to compost with Love Essex.

Read a free e-book every month

Reading is thought to have great mental health benefits. Essex Libraries is offering free access to its e-Book of the Month to help everyone read more.

Over the last year, libraries have featured 12 great e-Books of the Month, including Rosie Walsh's The Man Who Didn't Call. All 12 titles are still available for free download.

Find your next page-turner on the Essex Libraries website.

Visit a Green Flag country park

a man and a woman holding a green flag at thornbury country park

We're delighted that seven of our country parks have been recognised for excellence with the Green Flag Award 2020. These are Belhus Woods, Cudmore Grove, Danbury, Great Notley, Hadleigh, Thorndon and Weald.

Our country parks remain open, including car parks, children's play areas and toilets. Check your park's Facebook page before you travel for updates on car parking capacity.

Step into the great outdoors and discover a country park near you on the Explore Essex website.

Join the Essex community of cyclists and walkers


Be motivated to move with the 60 Day Challenge. You'll join a huge online community of walkers and cyclists who are staying active and doing their bit for the environment.

The Challenge motivates you to walk or cycle more with daily tasks. They help you form new habits and give you the chance to win weekly prizes.

Join the 60 Day Challenge and find a new way to explore your neighbourhood, catch up with a friend safely and travel sustainably.

Enjoy online events with Essex 2020

Essex 2020 keeps STEAMing on and celebrating all things Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths.

Southend Tech’s Coding Meetup is a weekly meetup for people who are interested in coding.

a man holding a model of a shark

Green Marine offers children the chance to join Marine Boy and Aqua Girl to take a look at prehistoric and modern marine life. Brought to you by the Travelling Natural History Museum, it features lots of fun and informative demonstrations for children.

Visit Essex 2020 for more great STEAM-themed events.

Strengthening our communities

Doing good is a great way to feel good. And now more than ever, it's a time for togetherness: here are a few things we're doing to help our communities and some ways you can help others too.

£1.5m to support children, families and the most vulnerable this winter

We're pleased to announce £1.5 million of winter support funding that will help children, families and the most vulnerable in Essex during the winter months and school holidays in 2021. The funding will be used to support food banks, extend holiday camps, invest in families in deprived areas and offer targeted support for vulnerable people.

Find out more in our announcement of the £1.5m winter support plan.

Housing the homeless in Essex

Back in March, we accommodated all rough sleepers in Essex in temporary accommodation as part of our public health response to Covid. Now, we're helping them transition into permanent accommodation and supporting them to overcome personal issues.

Find out more about our work to house vulnerable people.

Donate your disused laptop

Essex County Council (ECC) is appealing to residents and businesses to donate laptops to support children and young people in need. We've already donated 160 to colleges in Essex.

Visit our website to find out how individuals and businesses can donate laptops.

Give to a food bank near you

a woman packing a food parcel

If you can spare some food this winter, consider giving a parcel to your local foodbank.

Food banks provide disadvantaged people with nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food parcels that have been donated by the local community.

Trussell Trust has food banks in Basildon, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Romford and more. Find a foodbank near you.

Provide respite care for a child with disabilities

a young child with disabilities with his foster mother

If you have just one weekend to spare each month, you can enhance a child's life.

Fostering doesn't have to be full-time. You can keep your full-time job and offer respite care for children with disabilities when their family or foster carer needs a break.

Nicola and Tony Hascomb say fostering a child with disabilities is the best thing they've ever done in our YouTube video.

If you've worked in teaching, nursing or care, you already have many of the skills you need to look after children with disabilities. However, we welcome anyone who is kind, committed, resilient and patient. Visit our website to find out more about the different types of fostering.

Get funding for your community group with the Essex Lottery

the pavilion at Beacon Hill Rovers Football Club

A common misconception is that only charities can benefit from Essex Lottery funding. If your organisation provides community activities or services that benefit local residents, you could sign up and get funding too.

Beacon Hill Rovers Football club has recently joined to raise funds for an extension to their sports pavilion (pictured).

Maybe you or someone you know volunteers at a local community group, football club, dance troupe or school PTA. Sign up to the Essex Lottery for free to start receiving funding.

Get help with your fuel bills

Earlier this year, we launched Warm Homes Essex with the Citizens Advice Service.

The initiative aims to help people who may be in fuel poverty this winter. The team of advisors can help you with fuel debt, saving on energy around the home and accessing grants for energy saving improvements.

Get help with fuel bills this winter on the Warm Homes Essex website.

Business and economy

Getting our economy moving again will come with its challenges, but entrepreneurialism is hard-wired into our DNA here in Essex. Here are some schemes that might help your business.

Support for businesses in Essex

The government has announced a further £20 per head to support businesses and local economies as a result of the national restrictions. We estimate this will be £28m for Essex which will go to district, borough and city councils and then to local businesses.

This funding is on top of the £4.4m we already received when we entered the High local Covid alert level restrictions (Tier 2), £2.2m of which we allocated for business support.

Visit our business support section to find:

  • support for the self-employed, including the extended Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
  • government business support packages, including the extended Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • local advice and support, including the Localised Restrictions Support Grant and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
  • advice and support for hospitality businesses, including how you can apply to use roads and pavements as extra outdoor space when the national restrictions end.

Join the Essex Business Accelerator programme

We're inviting entrepreneurs and new businesses to join our free Essex Business Accelerator programme.

The 8-week programme consists of 8 Zoom sessions and one-to-one mentoring. You'll learn about business structure, financial metrics, business planning, leadership and delivering a winning pitch.

The programme is aimed at pre-start businesses or those under a year old from any sector. It starts on Thursday 12 November. Register for the programme on eventbrite.

Get Back to Business with free advice

Back to Business Essex is here to support businesses in Essex.

Let's Do Business Group and Essex County Council have teamed up to help small to medium sized enterprises plan in response to the pandemic.

Whether you need support with finances, staffing, operations, marketing or supply chain, the wide range of services can help.


Roads and infrastructure

Through better transport and infrastructure, we want to build a competitive economy, create vibrant communities, and protect our natural and historic environment.

In recent weeks, we have:

Primary school applications now open

Parents of children starting primary school in September 2021 are now able to apply online for their child’s Reception school place.

Children are entitled to start primary school in the September after their fourth birthday so parents and carers of children born between 1 Sept 2016 and 31 August 2017 need to apply.

You can apply for a Reception school place at an Essex primary school between 9 November 2020 and 15 January 2021.

Have your say

Join the Essex Residents' Panel

Do you want to share your views about the services and issues that matter to you and help make a difference in your community? If so, you might want to consider joining the Essex Residents’ Panel.

As a panel member, you’ll be invited to take part in various online surveys about a wide range of issues which could include surveys on education, travel, the environment, mental and physical health, local services and amenities.

Have your say on plans to improve air quality in Basildon

Air pollution, mainly caused by vehicles on the roads, is having a harmful effect on our health.

Have your say on our proposals to tackle the issue in Basildon and the wider efforts to encourage cleaner travel by completing our online survey.

Improving poor air quality and reducing our exposure to it will mean more people live safer, greener and healthier lives.

An artist's impression of the proposals in Basildon

Tell us about your experience of childcare and early years

We're in the progress of planning our Early Years and Childcare Strategy for Essex 2021-26. This means making sure there is the right type and amount of childcare across Essex.

If you are a parent or carer of a child aged 0-19, or of a child with special educational needs or disabilities up to the age of 25, please tell us your views and experiences of childcare and early years. You don't have to have used formal childcare to give your opinion.

Take the survey on our consultations website.