Latest message from Cllr John Lodge, Leader of Uttlesford District Council

As I write this message, the government has announced that the lockdown measures currently in place will be extended for at least another three weeks. It was not an unsurprising announcement by any means, but all the same it will have an impact.

These strict limits on daily life remain the 'norm' for now. From the council's perspective, I can assure you that we're well prepared and remain committed to keeping essential services running as best we can, and to supporting our communities, particularly those most vulnerable and at risk. We can also keep positively in mind the community spirit that we're continuing to see in Uttlesford - the response to the Covid-19 outbreak here has been nothing short of remarkable. We will need this united effort more than ever in the weeks ahead.

There is evidence that people are avoiding seeking health advice or treatment when they need it. Much of this is due to a misunderstanding that normal NHS services are not operating, or because of self-isolation, social distancing or fear of catching the virus in hospitals. These delays could result in people becoming more poorly than they should do. It is really important that anyone with a health condition seeks medical help when they need it. Parents and carers can find advice on when to seek help for their child and which service they should contact on the Essex Safeguarding Children Board website.

The current lockdown is stressful for many people and it is important to look after our mental wellbeing. Staying active both physically and mentally, drinking plenty of water, maintaining contact with family and friends, or focusing on a new hobby, for example, are all simple but effective ways to improve health and mood. I personally find that trying to stick to a daily routine works for me. There's lots of advice, information and resources out there to help during the pandemic - there are online tools such as NHS Every Mind Matters, and guidance for people to manage their mental health at home from the likes of Public Health England, Mind and the Livewell Campaign (this is the countywide local councils health and wellbeing hub), to name a few.

Of course, the single most important thing we can do to look after ourselves and others at this time is to follow the government guidance and stay at home. The advice remains to only go out for food, health reasons or work (and only when you can't work from home), and if you must go out, to stay two metres away from other people at all times. If you are a 'good neighbour' and are checking on friends or family who are isolating, that's great, but please remember the rules around social distancing - the government has guidance on how you can help safely on its website, www.gov.uk/safehelp. It's vital that we continue to do what is right in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

Let us all keep up the good work and get through this together.

17 April 2020