• I recently pulled together a collection of ideas and activities to hopefully help keep us busy, learn something new and have fun, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly if you’re looking for something to do over a damp weekend, do take a look! You can find it, here: https://tinyurl.com/yc6fyrcn.
• For those struggling with loneliness at this difficult time, Age UK runs a telephone befriending service, ‘Call in Time’, which allows you to sign up for a free weekly friendship call. It can be a great way to speak to someone new and you can find more information at: https://tinyurl.com/ycw28f9d. Silverline also offers weekly calls to people aged 55 and over. This is a free service for people looking to have a chat with a friendly and supportive volunteer. More information at: https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/telephone-friendship/.
• Spending time outdoors and taking regular exercise is proven to have a positive impact on people’s physical and mental health, which is particularly important at this unique time. The latest information from Northamptonshire County Council regarding country parks can be found on their website at: https://www.northamptonshireparks.co.uk/Pages/country-park-updates---coronavirus.aspx.
• The COVID-19 crisis is a big challenge for our mental health, and Action for Happiness has launched a new program to boost your wellbeing in these crazy times. ‘10 Days of Happiness’ is a free 10-day online coaching programme which guides you through daily actions for happier living. You can sign up at: https://10daysofhappiness.org/.
• Applications for the 2021 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are open until the 9th September 2020. These prestigious awards are designed to recognise and encourage outstanding achievements in the fields of innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity. I can think of so many brilliant examples of businesses locally succeeding in these various fields, so please do get involved and apply today! More information, here: www.gov.uk/queens-awards-for-enterprise.
• A project that aims to remember all those who have very sadly lost their lives in the UK as a result of COVID-19 is being led by St Paul’s Cathedral in London, supported by community and faith leaders from across the country and HRH the Prince of Wales. Family, friends, or carers of those who have died can submit, free of charge, the name, photograph and a short message in honour of a lost loved one, via the ‘Remember Me’ website (www.rememberme2020.uk). Like us all, my thoughts are with all those who have sadly lost someone at this very difficult time, and this is a fitting tribute to remember them all.
• It was fantastic to hear recently that Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have received a prestigious award from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) for its innovative project on the ambulatory management of spontaneous pneumothorax. This is a fantastic achievement and I was pleased to write to say “well done” and “congratulations” to all those involved in this success.
• Around all the wonderful work going on in our community and the national effort to fight Coronavirus, I am really saddened to hear of the small minority of people who, disgracefully, are trying to take advantage of vulnerable people at this hugely challenging time. I am aware of several scams, and urge you to stay extra vigilant. Be suspicious around phone calls, texts and emails you weren't expecting, or people claiming to be from the Government, HMRC, or the local council. More information and advice, here: https://bit.ly/2HtMqE9.
• There is a new and free online service, backed by British Gas, that brings together volunteers and people who need help with essential household tasks in their local area. @LocalHeroesUK, which you can find on Twitter, offers a free, easy and flexible way to ask for help with the essentials, or to give some time to support your local community during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you need assistance or want to volunteer you can sign up, here: https://communities.localheroes.com.
• I really welcome the recent announcement providing greater clarity on the discretionary element of the small business grants scheme, along with some extra resourcing, which will undoubtedly address a small number of challenging cases I have been taking up with the councils locally. You can find more details, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/top-up-to-local-business-grant-funds-scheme. Well done to Ministers for listening to the feedback and acting on it – it’ll make a big difference!
• A particularly concerning aspect around our collective national effort to fight Coronavirus is the impact it is understandably having on people’s mental health. In response, I am pleased that our local councils and the NHS have launched a mental health support line, and whether you are feeling lonely, anxious, frightened, or struggling with other issues, there is friendly, professional support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 0300 330 1011.
If you have anything you would like to be featured next week, please email all the details to email@example.com.
Also, if you have taken any photos of constituency landscapes or landmarks, which could be featured in my ‘Community Notices’ headers, please send them in and I will try to use as many of them as possible (and credit them accordingly!), as a celebration of the fantastic place we live and work in. I know we have many budding photographers in our community and it would be great to showcase their work, particularly as so many of us are going about our now unlimited daily exercise by walking in our stunning local countryside!