Dr Basu’s story – Spending time in the garden to relax and de-stress

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To mark this National Gardening Week (2-8 May 2022), Dr Tamasi Basu shares with us her experiences of taking up gardening during a stressful period at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Dr Basu collage

If you’ve ever given yoga a try, you’re probably familiar with the image of a supple instructor performing a series of poses on a beach, or up in the mountains, or next to a verdant forest. Exercise and nature are two common themes that time and again appear when talking about relaxation and calming stress or anxiety.

There’s plenty of evidence on the benefits of both exercise and outside green spaces on people’s sense of wellbeing. They can boost people’s mood, help us keep fit and healthy, and even lower feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Even if you don’t live near a forest or national park, there’s still ways to get active in nature. You can try cycling around some local countryside villages, go walking in your local park, or you could dust off those gardening gloves and spend some time in your garden!

For those of us that have a garden, gardening is a great choice to get you outside and active. All the digging, planting and harvesting boosts your physical activity while also helping you get stuck into nature.

Dr Tamasi Basu is a local GP from Thurrock and she shares with us her experiences of taking up gardening in 2020 just after the first lockdown.

Like many of us, Dr Basu, struggled with the impact of lockdown on her wellbeing while also dealing with the mounting strain of caring for her patients. In early spring, Dr Basu planted a few vegetable seeds in her garden, and what followed was a new passion that provided some much-needed stress relief.

Dr Basu said: “The start of lockdown was a very busy time for me and I was feeling very stressed by everything. I was worrying about our patients, the disease itself, the risk factors. Like so many people in the medical profession, I felt so helpless because I couldn’t do anything for my patients.

“I hadn’t really gardened before – I always gave the excuse I didn’t have time. But during the lockdown, I felt I needed to relax. Growing vegetables really changed the way I looked at life and the situation around COVID as a whole. It helped me relax after a hard day and has been a real stress buster.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to turn their garden, or even just window boxes, into their own wellbeing oasis. Starting something new can be difficult, but if you don’t have much gardening experience then start with something small. Try to grow herbs and salads on windowsill, the result you see will be a big encouragement for stepping up to outdoor soil vegetable gardening.

“Just remember to look after your health when gardening. Getting outside is a great way to get your Vitamin D, but if you’re outside for long periods, be sure to cover up your skin or use some sunscreen. Drink plenty of water, especially when it’s hot, to keep yourself hydrated and watch out for insect bites!”

For more hints and tips on managing stress or anxiety, or looking after your mental health in general, visit the Every Mind Matters website.

Local health services over the Easter weekend to help you stay well

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However you’re spending the bank holiday weekend, make sure you know where you can go for local health care.

If you have an urgent medical problem that’s not life threatening or an emergency, or you’re not sure what to do, you can call NHS 111. A team of trained advisors will ask questions to assess your symptoms and then give you the healthcare advice you need or direct you to the local service that is best for you and your needs and is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. Always dial 999 in a medical emergency.

Patients registered at most practices across mid and south east Essex can pre-book urgent GP or nurse appointments on Good Friday, Saturday 16 April, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. Appointments are available to book at one of the hubs located in Mid Essex, Thurrock, south east Essex and Basildon and Brentwood. People can ask their own GP practice for details on how to book.

Opening times across mid and south Essex localities for GP hubs and pharmacies opening times can be found by visiting the links below:

Basildon and Brentwood Easter weekend services guide

Mid Essex Easter weekend services guide

South east Essex Easter weekend services guide

Thurrock Easter weekend services guide

Feeling low at this time of year is common. If you feel you need help then please get in touch with someone. There are a number of support services including 24-hour support.


Castle Point and Rochford


Basildon and Brentwood 

Mid Essex

If you are feeling tense or anxious and need to talk to someone, mental health support is now available for over 18s 24/7 via the NHS 111 helpline.

Under 18s can call NELFT out of hours: 0800 953 0222

Samaritans: Call 116 123 free 24/7. For children and young people, free, safe and anonymous online counselling and can be accessed via Kooth – www.kooth.com  or Togetherall  – https://togetherall.com/en-gb/

Your local pharmacy can also help with advice on medication, or with a wide range of minor illnesses and ailments. While many pharmacies will be closed over the bank holiday weekend, visit www.nhs.uk to find one that is open near you.

If you think you need urgent dental treatment, call your regular dentist. If you cannot contact reach your dentist or you do not have one, use the NHS 111 online service. If you need an appointment, this will be arranged at an urgent dental care centre.

Make sure you follow Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership on Twitter or Facebook to get the latest information on healthcare services over the Easter holiday weekend.

Are you worried about the welfare or safety of a baby, child or young person?

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If you are worried about a child either in their home, in the community, nursery or school or any activities they are involved in and are concerned they maybe, or at risk of, being mistreated, exploited or abused please report your concerns.

Everyone has the responsibility to keep children safe. You can stop abuse or neglect by speaking up about what you know.

Signs to be aware of:

  • Children appearing withdrawn, anxious or frightened.
  • Hearing shouting, things being broken or hitting.
  • Children crying for long periods of time.
  • Very young children left alone or being outdoors by themselves.
  • Children looking dirty or not changing their clothes.

These signs don't always mean that a child is being abused, neglected and/or exploited, but if you have concerns, even if you’re unsure, please contact the Thurrock Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) or the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) if the concerns are out of office hours, including weekends and bank holidays.

Thurrock Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
Telephone: 01375 652 802
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thurrock Emergency Duty Team (EDT)
Telephone: 01375 372468
Police Child Abuse Team
Telephone: 01277 266 822

If a child is in immediate danger, call the Police on 999 straight away.

If your child is unwell.

Hear from two medical professionals explaining why it's still important to bring your child to hospital or see your GP if they are unwell during the #coronavirus pandemic.

Where to get health help this winter

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Help is on hand for those feeling under the weather this winter.

People living in mid and south Essex can get the right – support they need by visiting https://www.essexcovidvaccine.nhs.uk/winter-health/feeling-unwell/.

The site includes information on local pharmacies and their opening times across the Christmas and New Year period, NHS 111 service, advice on weekend and evening GP appointments and advice on using the Essex child health app

Dr Ronan Fenton, medical director for Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership said: “We want you to be able to get the right care, at the right time and in the right place when you are not feeling your best.

“There are lots of ways you can receive quick and effective help and support close to home to help you recover as quickly as possible. Our website provides lots of information to help you get the right care for you.”

Cold weather can make some health problems worse and even lead to serious complications, especially if you are 65 or older, or if you have a long-term health condition.

Local pharmacists can offer medical advice on a range of conditions including coughs, colds, aches and pains, all without the need for an appointment. Over the Christmas period, your regular pharmacy may be shut or have different opening times on the bank holidays and the website will provide up to date information on where to get help locally.

People can now access evening and weekend appointments with a GP, nurse or healthcare assistant offering patients appointments at more convenient times when they call their local practice.

Appointments are available from 6:30pm – 8:00pm, Monday to Friday and from 8:00am – 7:30pm on the weekends and public holidays; however, opening hours will vary between the practices over the Christmas and New Year period. The website will have the latest up to date information. 

The NHS Essex Child Health app offers handy advice on some of these most common childhood illnesses, as well as helping you to understand when it’s better to chat to your school nurse, visit a local community pharmacist or GP, or to call NHS 111.

Health conditions covered within the app include:

  • Coughs, colds and flu
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Chicken pox and measles
  • Ear ache and tonsillitis
  • Wheezing and breathing difficulties including bronchiolitis and asthma
  • Headlice and threadworms
  • Bumps, bruises and accidents

Information on mental health and wellbeing, healthy lifestyles and advice on some more serious conditions like meningitis and sepsis are also covered. And there’s a handy section on when you might want to consider keeping your child home from school.

The app is free to download for both Android and Apple. Just search for “NHS Essex Child Health”. You can download the app by clicking on the links below:

If you have an urgent medical problem that’s not life-threatening, or you’re not sure what to do, call NHS 111 first. The NHS 111 team will direct you to the service that best meets your needs. If that’s a visit to the emergency department at your local hospital, they can book you a time slot when you’ll be seen. In case of emergency only, or a life-threatening medical emergency, dial 999.

Essex leaders unite to oppose violence against women

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Community leaders across Southend, Essex and Thurrock, including officers and staff at Essex Police, are uniting today with a promise to tackle the epidemic of violence against women.

Today, Thursday 25 November, marks White Ribbon Day, also known as the International Day of the Eradication of Violence Against Women. It marks the start of the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board’s (SETDAB) 16 days of action campaign with this year’s focus being male violence against women.

The SETDAB is made up of representatives from agencies and organisations working to join up and better facilitate Southend, Essex and Thurrock’s vision to work together to enable everyone to live a life free from all forms of abuse.

This year’s White Ribbon Day aims to get men in particular to think about their behaviours towards women and take the White Ribbon promise:

“I promise to never to commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.”

Men from across the county – from the emergency services to local councils, and the NHS to the education sector – have made the promise and are committed to challenging unacceptable behaviour.

Anthony McKeever, Chief Executive Designate for the Mid and South Essex ICS said:

"I'm supporting White Ribbon Day to help end violence and abuse against women and girls. Much of this needs to start in our communities and with our youngest members of society, and learning early on in life about respect and gender equality. As an NHS system we stand against abuse and violence in all its forms and I make this pledge today to never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women."

Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said:

“The issue of male violence against women and girls impacts those across our country – and our county – every day.

“This isn’t a problem for women to solve, so it’s crucial that men are visible and are true to their word in preventing the spread of gender-based violence. That includes me, and it includes those who work for me and serve the people of Essex.

“We know this isn’t an issue that can be solved by one agency alone and Essex is united in that. That’s why we’re working with local councils, safety partnerships, and other partners to ensure that women and girls feel safer in public spaces.

“My officers, staff and volunteers work tirelessly to support victims, serve the public and, most importantly, deliver justice by locking up criminals every single day.

“But it would be naïve of me to suggest that we don’t need to continue to work hard to maintain the trust and confidence of the women and girls of Essex.

“National events can carry across the perception of all of policing, but we need to be a good example for the public to follow. I don’t want anyone working for Essex Police walking by and excusing unacceptable behaviour or committing it, and those found to have done either will be dealt with.

“We are your police force and we are here for you. We will continue to listen, to learn, and to deliver justice for victims of crime across Essex.”

Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex was one of the first people to take the pledge. He said:

“I will not tolerate violence against women. As a male leader in Essex, I need and want to stand up and condemn male violence against women.”

If you have been the victim of violence, we want to help you.

Please call 999 in an emergency, but if it’s not safe for you to speak, you can dial 55 when the phone is connected.

To find out about support that’s available to you in your local community please visit the SETDAB website