Wellbeing Wednesday: Mental Wellbeing During A Pandemic

Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important if Coronavirus means you are still spending a lot of time at home. You may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also feel low or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or those close to you but it’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel this way. The tips and advice here come from the Department of Public Health and Mind, and are things you can do to help you keep on top of your mental wellbeing.

Stay connected with others

Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family. This could be through a simple phone call, video call or even a text message. Try to set aside some time in your day or week to check in with others because they might need just as much support as you do.

Talk about your worries

Remember that it is okay to share your concerns with others you trust. If you cannot speak to someone you know or if doing so has not helped, there are plenty of helplines you can try instead.

  • Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58
  • Call Samaritans on 0330 094 5717 or text 116 123.
  • Call Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393
  • Text SHOUT on 85258 to reach crisis volunteers 24/7. Texts are free.

Look after your body

Our physical health can also impact how we feel. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, stay hydrated and exercise regularly. Going for a walk, run or bike ride is a great way to lift your mood and clear your head. Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. But it doesn’t need to be particularly intense for you to feel good, slower-paced activities such as walking can be just as beneficial. Need some inspiration? Take a look at some of our blog posts outlining activities that can help you to stay active during this time.

Keep your mind active

Make an effort to focus on your favourite hobby. However, if you don’t have one, picking something new to learn at home might also help to stop feeling anxious or worried. This is because continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and higher levels of wellbeing. So, why not learn something new today? You could read, write, play games, do crosswords, complete Sudoku puzzles or even start to draw or paint. Whatever it is, find something that works for you.

Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can

Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress, and make you feel more relaxed. There are plenty of lovely open parks and greenspaces within Buckingham that you can utilise on your daily outings; don’t miss out on beautiful free experiences in your local area!

Flooding: could you be a flood volunteer?

On 23rd and 24th December 2020, at the end of a difficult year for many, the River Great Ouse burst its banks amid extremely heavy rainfall, and serious flooding hit Buckingham.

Many local residents immediately jumped to the aid of their neighbours. From turning up with buckets or supplying water pumps to help clear water to opening their homes to those in need, many people did what they could to help. Buckingham Free Meals, led by 14-year-old Sulayman, coordinated free hot food and drinks and ongoing food parcels. The Bard of Buckingham, Dean Jones, launched a fundraiser to support those flooded with rebuilding their lives. The more than £17,000 raised will be held and distributed by the Town Council based on decisions made by an independent panel.

Staff from Buckingham Town Council joined those from Buckinghamshire Council and Transport for Buckinghamshire to help close roads, deliver sandbags and clear up the mess. It took over a week to sanitise and reopen play areas and the public toilets, as well as clearing large amounts of debris from across the parks. The Council’s Shopmobility unit was flooded, and some equipment damaged.

The Council passed on a flood alert from the Environment Agency in the morning of 22nd December. Unfortunately, the EA’s flood gauge does not appear to have been working correctly, and no Flood Warning was issued.

The Town Council are reviewing the Community Flood Action Plan. Any suggestions for changes would be gratefully received. The Council are also looking to sign up Flood Volunteers to help with future floods and other emergencies. Residents from homes NOT at risk of flooding are ideal for this role, as those directly affected are less able to immediately help others. If you are interested in volunteering please email admin@buckingham-tc.gov.uk

The Town Council now has a direct arrangement with the Bucks and Oxon Response Group (BORG) who will again be prepared to use their 4×4 vehicles to help with any future events.

National Lockdown: impact on Buckingham Town Council services

As of Tuesday 5th January, Buckingham, and the whole country, have entered a new National Lockdown. There is a summary of what this means on our Coronavirus pages, which also contain signposts for local help or a raft of issues that may be impacting on your life at this time. For detailed guidance about the lockdown restrictions please visit the government website.

There are some additional changes to Buckingham Town Council services due to the National Lockdown:

  • Play areas will remain open, however, multi-use games areas and outdoor gym equipment are now closed. Please be patient and do not use equipment while we arrange signage.
  • Buckingham market remains open for essential items.
  • The Food Fair, Pancake Races and other upcoming public events in January and February will be cancelled.
  • Shopmobility will be closed, the Shopmobility building was also impacted by the flooding just before Christmas.
  • Public toilets will remain open.

As in Tier 4 the following additional services are running differently:

  • The Tourist Information Centre and the Tourist Information Centre phone line are closed.
  • Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre is only open for a very small number of allowable bookings.
  • Town Council staff are largely working from home, apart from the Green Spaces Team who continue to work out and about. The green spaces team have worked extremely hard clearing up after the flooding on Christmas Eve. Please help keep our team safe and well by not approaching them while they are working. If you have a query, please call or email the office team, and we will help you.

 

Council celebrates the decision to keep Buckingham’s last public phone box

Buckingham Town Council are celebrating the decision by Buckinghamshire Council to object to the removal of the last phone box in the town. Objections to the removal were submitted to Buckinghamshire Council by the Town Council and also Buckinghamshire Councillor Warren Whyte.

Buckinghamshire Council officers revealed in their Case Officer Report that
“A leaflet produced by BT about their policy on payphone removals states that no payphones will be identified for removal in suicide hotspots, accident blackspots, where there is no mobile coverage and within 400 metres of the coast. In addition they will not remove payphones where there is a reasonable need. For this criteria they will retain a payphone where it is the only payphone within 800 metres, which has had at least 12 calls in a 12 month period and where the local population is not fewer than 500 households within 1km of the payphone. …The data provided alongside the notification, indicates that the payphone kiosk has 6 uses per month – and therefore on average 72 uses per annum. The kiosk also appears to be in location where there are more than 500 households within 1km. In addition the nearest phone box to the notification site is in excess of one mile away, and therefore it is considered that the kiosk in question may fall into the category of having “reasonable need”, and therefore further justification would be required to overcome concerns raised.”

The phone box in question is on Market Hill opposite M & Co. The nearest remaining phone box would be in Middle Claydon. BT have to follow an agreed process when they remove the last public phone in an area, which includes requesting permission from Buckinghamshire Council.

Buckingham Town Councillors had opposed the removal of the phone box, pointing out that it is in the centre of town and accessible to all; not everyone has a mobile, or unrestricted access to a phone – such as children, vulnerable adults, or those in an abusive relationship who may need to call a helpline without the abuser knowing. The means of calling the emergency services is also vital in a town centre where accidents or medical emergencies may occur. The sparse local bus service may mean that residents of surrounding villages need to call a private hire cab if they miss their bus home for any reason.

Town Mayor Geraldine Collins said, “I am delighted that our last remaining Public Phone Box is to stay and that this vital service remains available to our community”.

Buckingham Wears Face Masks

Cllr Stuchbury wearing a locally made facemaskFollowing the introduction of the requirement to wear facemasks in shops Buckingham Town Council have arranged for the Buckingham Tourist Information Centre to support local businesses by selling locally made face coverings from a variety of different makers. Pin Clothing have a variety of different fabrics in small medium and large for £6. LW Creations are selling a variety of masks for £3.50.   The Town are not seeking to compete with local businesses, but to promote local traders.

Town Council staff will be wearing visors when dealing with members of the public.  However everyone is encouraged to keep maintain a distance of 2m at all times.  Visors are being used because they enable residents to see facial expressions, and lip readers to understand what is being said.

Councillor Robin Stuchbury, Chair of the Town Centre and Events Committee, said, “I am pleased that the Tourist Information Centre is supporting residents in this way by enabling access to locally made masks in the town centre. “

 

Lace Hill, Tourist Information Centre and Chandos Park Toilets to reopen 4th July

Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre

The Lace Hill Community Centre has been closed since the beginning of the lockdown. The Centre will now open for hirers who can meet the current guidelines. Unfortunately, we are not yet allowed to open centre for sporting activities, or to open the changing rooms. A range of safety measures have been put in place, including ensuring hirers can maintain social distancing, and an additional cleaning regime. It is hoped that most hirers will return by September.

Tourist Information Centre

The Tourist Information Centre, in the front of the Old Gaol, will also reopen from Saturday 4th July. The Centre will now be open 7 days a week; it was agreed earlier in the year to trial summer opening on Sundays to improve the service to weekend visitors to the town. Measures have been put in place to prevent and reduce any risks. Queries can also be made via phone during opening hours: 10am-4pm on 01280 823020.

Buckingham Shopmobility is still closed until further notice.

Chandos Park Toilets

After the reopening of most other public toilets in Buckingham on Thursday 18th June, we’re pleased to announce that the toilets in Chandos Park will also be fully reopened from Saturday 4th July.

Additional measures have been put in place to ensure they are as safe as possible for use. An additional daily clean has been introduced and high visibility signage will be prominent, advising users to thoroughly wash their hands and to maintain social distancing in accordance with the government guidelines.

Re-Opening of Public Toilets in Buckingham

Changing Place Toilet Cornwalls MeadowBuckingham Town Council are pleased to announce that from Thursday 18th June the Public toilets will be re-opened in Cornwall’s Meadow along with the disabled accessible toilets in Chandos Park.
Additional measures have been put in place to ensure they are as safe as possible for use. An additional daily clean has been introduced and high visibility signage will be prominent inside and outside each cubicle, advising users to thoroughly wash their hands and to maintain social distancing in accordance with the government guidelines.
At this time the male and female toilets in Chandos Park will remain closed due to the difficulty in keeping the communal areas safe. This will be kept under review and the Town Council aim to re-open these facilities as soon as it is safe to do so.
The Disabled accessible toilets in Chandos Park will be opened from Thursday, as this is a single cubicle, and can be accessed with a RADAR key which is sometimes referred to as the National Key Scheme (NKS). This is a nationwide scheme that offers people with disabilities independent access to locked public toilets around the country.
Councillor Ruth Newell, Chair of the Environment Committee added that she was “pleased that the Town Council was able to re-open their toilet facilities, to assist the public as they use the increasing number of re-opening shops and businesses.”

New Mayor elected online

Buckingham Town Council carried out its first online Mayoral election and robing ceremony on Monday 11th May 2020.  Councillor Geraldine Collins was elected unanimously as the new Town Mayor, and formally robed by her husband Councillor Paddy Collins in their home during an online meeting which was watched over YouTube by residents and friends in Buckingham and overseas.  Paddy Collins will be the Mayor’s consort for the year.

Declaration signing 2020Councillor Collins is the first Mayor of Buckingham to have been elected and robed online.

During the meeting Councillor Howard Mordue – the longest serving Town Councillor – explained the history behind the Mayor’s chain, and the other regalia.

A video of the ceremony can be viewed from the Council’s YouTube channel.

Geraldine is keen to support local groups during these difficult times, and would welcome invitations to take part in events even if they are happening online!

Councillor Collins said:

At this time of year, we usually have a variety of events in our town to look forward to Mayor of Buckingham, Cllr. Geraldine Collinsand at these I would normally be able to meet many of you and your families. Sadly, many of these events have had to be cancelled. At these events we pass around our buckets to raise funds for the Mayor’s charities, I hope we can find some alternative ways to support our local groups and charities until such time as we can all get together again, which I look forward to very much.

I spent many years during my nursing career in children’s nursing and during this time became aware of the emotional difficulties many children and young people face alongside the physical illness. In the adult side I saw the same difficulties and saw the challenges faced in supporting and helping all concerned. This is why the charities I have chosen to raise funds for this year are:

  • Clearly Speaking who are a great support to children, young people and their families, dealing with a variety of emotional needs; i.e. autistic spectrum disorders, learning difficulties anxiety disorders, depression, communication and mental health and the
  • Kit Cat Club who also support children and their families through very difficult times.” Many of these problems have been exacerbated during this present crisis.

 

For more information about the Mayor and her chosen charities, visit the Mayor of Buckingham page.

Easter in Buckingham

A message from The Mayor, Councillor Mark Cole JP:

thank you from buckingham mayor coronavirus“May I say a big thank you to everybody in Buckingham and district who has helped to reduce the risks of Covoid-19, not only those in the front line – NHS staff, carers, postal workers, council staff, refuse collectors, and food, foodbank and prescription deliverers – but to all those who are respecting Government guidelines by staying at home for all but the most essential trips to food and pharmacy outlets, or exercise.

“In line with Government advice, our town parks will be open for everyone to enjoy this Easter, but for obvious reasons the play areas will remain shut. Whether in the parks, the estates, or in the countryside, please keep your distance from others, and if you are a dog walker keep your dog on a lead – notices will remind everyone of this – and together we can beat this contagion.”

Easter Activities

Buckingham Town Council are inviting residents to create Easter bonnets!   If you’re stuck for what to use or may struggle to get materials, try using the things that are already accessible in your house and garden first.

Here are just a few materials you can use to make your very own Easter bonnet;

  • A hatImage of our Happy Easter colouring activity
  • Paper or Card
  • Colouring pens and pencils
  • Cotton Wool
  • Ribbon
  • Glitter or Sequins
  • Flowers
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Don’t forget your can create Easter Eggs for our Easter Egg Hunt too.

Post your creations to the Town Council’s Facebook and Instagram pages and use our #BucksBonnets so everyone can join in.

And why not wear your bonnet while you exercise over the weekend…

Covid 19 Information for Buckingham

Buckingham Town Council has published a Coronavirus web page giving links to local groups providing support, coordinating volunteers and seeking resources to do more in this challenging time.

The page is being updated each working day with any new information specific to Buckingham.  The Council is also using its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to provide up to date information on its services and those of other organisations in the town.

This includes links to local businesses who are offering additional services at this time.  As well as local groups and services who are providing support to those who need it and who are seeking more volunteers.

Play Areas

The Town Council’s play areas remain closed for the time being, i.e. those in Bourton Park (junior and senior), Chandos Park, Badgers Estate (Otters Brook), Meadway (Ken Tagg) and Lace Hill, along with the outdoor sports and exercise equipment in Bourton Park.  The same applies to the other eight play parks in Buckingham not managed by the Town Council.

Parks and Green Spaces

The Town Council’s parks remain open for exercise for the Bank Holiday weekend, however everyone who is visiting parks and open spaces must maintain social distancing, keeping at least 2m from each other. This means please avoid narrow paths, as well as thinking carefully about activities you may do there. The parks should be used as routes to exercise through, not as places to remain in.

This is particularly important to remember while exercising. If you are moving faster than another individual or household group and are not able to pass someone with a 2m distance between you, you must stop or move to an area where there is a suitable distance. All park users are responsible for ensuring that this distance is maintained.

The Grounds Maintenance Team are continuing to maintain Bourton and Chandos Parks, green spaces and the cemetery.  Grass cutting has started for the new season, including on grass verges and vision splays.

The Team will be checking the parks are safe and emptying bins over the Bank Holiday weekend.  However, members of the public are asked to remember that Town Council staff have been instructed to have minimal direct contact while they are at work, so all questions about Council services should be made by phone or email wherever possible.

The Buckingham Road Cemetery remains open in the usual way but the same social distancing principles apply.

Markets

The town’s Tuesday and Saturday markets remain open to stalls selling essential food and goods.  The market provides people with a low risk outdoor place to shop for essential supplies.

Shopmobility

The Shopmobility Service remains closed temporarily

Tourist Information Centre

Tourist Information Centre staff are still available to answer queries by telephone and email during the Centre’s usual working hours:

Opening Hours
Monday – Saturday, 10.00am to 4.00pm
Contact Us
Phone: 01280 823 020
Email: TIC@buckingham-tc.gov.uk
Web: www.buckinghamoldgaol.org.uk

Coronavirus: if you need help

Coronavirus: what if I need help?

There is always help available in Buckingham.

To keep up to date with current and accurate information about Coronavirus Covid-19 itself, stick to trusted sources; visit the Government Coronavirus page and NHS coronavirus page which has information about the virus, symptoms, self-isolating, and travel. Sign Health offers daily updates on Coronavirus in British Sign Language.

As Buckingham has moved into National Lockdown in January 2021, advice for clinically extremely vulnerable people has changed. If you have not yet received a letter explaining the new guidance, there is information on the government website.

If you are extremely clinically vulnerable and need help, please contact Buckinghamshire Council's special support service.

Being in lockdown with an abuser is dangerous. Whoever you are, and whoever your abuser is, there are many charities waiting to help you, with advice and support. Citizens Advice keeps a detailed list of different groups you could call.

It is legal to leave your home to escape domestic abuse, even during lockdown. If you need to leave, then don't wait. Get help and leave as soon as you can.

The Bucks Family Information Service (BFIS) website is the first port of call for support for families with children 0 to 19 years old (or 25 if your child has SEND - special educational needs or disabilities).

The BFIS can support our sign post families to help from food parcels to emergency respite in a crisis. To contact the team call 01296 383 293 or email familyinfo@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

The phone line is open 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

 

If you are in isolation or advised to stay at home you may be worried about how to get food and other essentials going forward. As a first option, always choose to ask someone you know personally and trust (or a business you trust) for help with food deliveries or prescriptions.

If you are able to afford food, but having difficulty getting a delivery slot, you can ask the Buckingham Support Network if a volunteer may be able to deliver essentials to your house.

If you are self-isolating and are concerned about opening the door for deliveries, downloadable self-isolating poster and high risk household poster are available.

If you think you may have Coronavirus and need medical help, please use the NHS 111 symptom checker service for help.

If you have questions for The Swan Practice about prescriptions or appointments, please check their website which is being kept up to date with the latest news.

Some people are considered at very high risk of severe illness if they catch Coronavirus (Covid-19) These people should have received a letter from the government highlighting them as vulnerable or extremely vulnerable. There are a number of other groups offering additional help and advice to extremely vulnerable people:

  • Prevention Matters offer help and advice
  • If you are concerned about an extremely vulnerable person who might need help, call Buckinghamshire Council on their a 24 hour phone number – 01296 383 204 – this number is specifically for calls relating to coronavirus only.
  • Buckinghamshire Adult Social Care team are also reaching out to vulnerable people they are aware of. If you know of someone who might need their help, call the Adult Social Care team on 01296 383 402.

new mental health helpline has been launched for those living in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. The helpline runs in a similar way to 111. People can call when they need to find out when and where to get help and to access support from mental health professionals.

Adults: 01865 904 997

Children and young people: 01865 904 998

When someone is seriously ill or injured, or in an acute confused state, call 999.

There are a number of other support options including, local support groups and CALM - which has a webchat option from 5pm until midnight 365 days a year.

There have been some changes to bus timetables due to Coronavirus. For updates on bus timetables you can check the Buckinghamshire Council buses page.

Remember, all bus and public transport users now need to wear a face mask.

Please make sure you wear a face mask in enclosed public places. Using a mask in shops, public transport and restaurants reduces the spread of Covid-19 infection, by people who are not aware they’re infected.

Even though we encourage everyone to wear masks, some people are not able to. Please respect that not all disabilities are visibly obvious and those not wearing masks may do so for good reasons.

The Hidden Disabilities charity has a sunflower scheme which allows people with hidden disabilities to obtain lanyards, wristbands or wallet cards that has a sunflower logo on. If you see someone wearing or using any of those items with the sunflower logo on, you may need to give them some additional support, help or a little more time.

Going into self-isolation can feel intimidating. We've talked about the practical side above, but staying mainly or totally at home for two weeks can still be part of a community effort. Mind has advice about looking after your mental health while in social isolation, and we have seen lots of ideas on social media for ways to keep entertained.

The Town Council may have had to postpone or cancel local events, but there are lots of wonderful group events continuing across social media platforms, from virtual Choirs to exercise classes and art projects. Share your efforts and make new connections with others trying the same things.

We love Isolation Examination! Buckingham's own monthly quiz. Follow them on Facebook to join in every Wednesday at 8pm.

Two facebook groups are also advertising online events:

Video calling is a great way to get in touch with people, with several different platforms offering video calls for free - if you haven't tried them before, do give it a go.

Financial Problems?

Many people's lives have been impacted by Coronavirus and lockdown. If you are now having financial problems and need help and advice there are places you can turn for help.

If you are pregnant or have a young baby and need help with essential baby items, please ask your Midwife or healthcare professional about Baby Bundles.

As well as being able to refer families and individuals to Buckingham foodbank, Citizens' Advice can also help with any questions or difficulties you may have regarding:

  • Managing money
  • Debt
  • Benefits
  • Housing
  • Employment

If you are concerned about paying your bills, as a first step we recommend contacting your usual providers and asking what support they may be offering at this time.

Coronavirus Scams warning

Stay safe everyone, if you are concerned that you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud please contact: Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and contact your bank.

For advice call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 11 33

 

The long running Buckingham Food Bank are able to provide food to those in financial need through referral systems.

The Buckingham Foodbank is available for anyone in North Buckinghamshire struggling with food poverty. Please visit their website for information about how to apply for a food bank.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

There are grants available from the government for self-employed people. Please check the government website for more information and how to apply.

Local advice

Buckinghamshire Business First, Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Buckinghamshire Council have been working on local programs to help support struggling local businesses.

Bucks Business First.

COVID-19 Business Resilience Fund page.

Buckinghamshire Council Business Support Hub.

New grants were made available when the second phase of New Restrictions started in November, including the Local Restrictions Support Grant. Bucks Additional Restrictions Grant, and Wet-Led Pubs Christmas Support Grant Get in touch with Buckinghamshire Council to find out if any new funds may be available that you could apply for.

Furlough Scheme

The furlough scheme has now been extended until 31st March 2021. Visit the government website for more information.

Are you at risk of homelessness or homeless right now?

Bucks Council homelessness team are able to help you with practical help and advice.

The Swan Community Hub runs a job club. The job club team can support you with refreshing IT skills, fine tuning CVs and recognising the skills you already have to help you get that perfect job.

Buckinghamshire Council may be able to help with emergency payments for individuals in financial need.

  • Helping Hands – Call 01296 531 151 to get support with food and energy bills over winter. The phone line is open Monday to Thursday, 9am to 5:30pm, Friday, 9am to 5pm. In an emergency, please call our out of hours team on 0800 999 7677.
  • Test and Trace Support Payments – If you are asked to self-isolate, you may be entitled to a Test and Trace Support Payment of £500, depending on your personal circumstances. (See the link for full details.)
  • Local Emergency Support – If you live in Buckinghamshire, you may be able to apply for Local Emergency Support. This is intended to cover urgent short-term emergencies (i.e. no immediate food, no heating or lighting) through the use of food banks, food vouchers, and utility meter top-ups. Apply online or call us on 01296 382 414 during office hours. An out of hours service is also available by calling 0800 999 7677.

If you think you might be eligible, we recommend you apply for Universal Credit as soon as possible. We are hearing reports that phone lines are very busy and calling outside of peak times may help. Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Get everything you will need to apply ready for your application before you try and claim.

The government advice pages can tell you more about Universal Credit.

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