This is a special edition of our e-bulletin to bring you handy tips, advice and guidance during these unprecedented times. Stay safe and well everyone and if you need us please e-mail or call 01189612000 and leave a message and we'll be sure to get in touch with you ASAP. Best wishes from the CCB Team - Gemma, Helen, Kate & Tim
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Coronavirus Advice for Rural Communities in Berkshire
This e-bulletin contains information on general guidance, stay at home guidance, advice for village halls, advice for community groups, protecting the isolated & vulnerable, advice for community transport and coronavirus and mental health & wellbeing. Our main references points is official advice from the UK Government and NHS England.

Current information surrounding Coronavirus is constantly changing and therefore Connecting Communities in Berkshire recommend that everyone should follow all guidance issued by Public Health England and the NHS and keep abreast of the ever-changing situation.
As of the evening of the 23rd March 2020, the Government has said that everybody in the UK must stop non-essential contact and stay at home.

Most shops and other premises must now close until further notice.  This includes ‘community centres, youth centres and similar’, with the exception that ‘Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.’
Heed the Governments advice.
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
  • Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
Anyone can spread the virus.
For full guidance on staying at home and away from others – Click here

For further advice and current guidance please click here.


Advice for Village Halls & Community Buildings

The advice from Government is clear: People should stay at home except for one of the four reasons permitted.

  • Shopping for basic necessities
  • One form of exercise a day
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work when absolutely necessary

Therefore, village halls and community buildings MUST close unless there is an essential service operating from the hall e.g pre-school that is open for children of key workers, food bank, medicine delivery – in which case precautions need to be taken – see below.

Village Hall Management Committees running charitable halls have a duty of care in providing a safe facility for the community to use. Therefore, if you are running an essential service and need to remain open, your committee must bear in mind that extra precautions need to be made as your hall may provide services for those groups who are most at risk from the virus.

Precautions include:

  • Take notice of the Government and Public Health England websites and keep up to date with the ongoing situation
  • Visitors to the hall must keep at least 2m distance (6ft) away from each other – If need be mark this distance out so its clear to everyone, especially if you have a queuing system in place
  • Ensure the hall has a one in, one out policy
  • Keep the Hall very clean and ensure that soap and/or hand sanitiser is available, paper towels are available and hand driers are working efficiently – one person to use the toilet at a time
  • Avoid the use of hand towels for the time being
  • Put up a notice about hand washing, particularly in toilets and kitchen areas. Poster available here: Catch it bin it kill it
  • Advise visitors that they are expected to act responsibly and take notice of Government and Public Health England advice which includes who is and isn’t allowed to be in public spaces

Regarding cancellation of any bookings follow the steps in their hiring agreement and activities in the event of the hall having to close, we suggest that you contact your insurance company to discuss what may be covered under your insurance policy regarding cancellation of events

For further information or advice please click here.

To read a handy fact sheet written this week by our Community Buildings Advisor Kate please click here.
Five ways to stay motivated at home
Many of us are working from home now, including the entire CCB office (some of us are trying to home school our kids too!) so we thought we’d share our top tips on surviving and thriving in a working from home environment.

Set up a designated working spot
It’s easy when working from home to get comfortable wherever you please but to increase productivity, it’s important to set up a home office or at least a set working desk to help keep your mind work-focused and keep your work separate from other aspects of your home-life.

Set up a routine
With no set starting or finishing time or public transport to catch, it’s easy to work too many hours or perhaps not enough hours. Setting a strict start time to your day and setting an alarm means you will be in a structured routine. It’s also a good idea to have a dedicated finishing time so you don’t work too many hours.

Stay healthy
Try not to fall victim to unhealthy snacking and sitting at your work desk for long periods of time. Ensure you take regular breaks and make healthy meals, and also incorporate exercise into your day, making sure you’re not spending long, intense hours completing your work without moving.

Isolation is actually a great time to start exercising – even without venturing out of the home. There are a many exercise classes on YouTube and local gyms have really stepped up to provide you with home exercises. Exercise has well documented benefits and will keep you feeling mentally positive as well as keeping you healthy physically. A big advantage of being home is that you can exercise on your lunch break! 

Reward yourself
Reward yourself through the day to keep you moving through tasks. The thought of a small reward at the successful completion of a task can be enough to make you push through. Having some chocolate, making a coffee or playing with your pets are just a few reward ideas.

Stay social
Working from home can be lonely. Schedule some video calls with colleagues and contacts throughout the day, there is some excellent and free software out there to help you with this. Some home-workers even work in chat-rooms with colleagues on in the background for that truly “social” office feel.
Advice for Community Groups
  • Group members must advise the rest of the group if they are self-isolating.
  • The importance of hand hygiene 
  • Cancellation of events:
Government guidance is to limit the amount of social contact where possible. This is likely to impact large scale events and you should consider whether it is appropriate to continue with your events. If your events depend on volunteers, be aware that some may prefer to stay home
Check cancellation policies for venue bookings you’ve made or are about to make
  • Do NOT host face to face meetings, therefore consider:
  • Is the meeting is really essential or can it be cancelled or postponed?
Consider electronic alternatives such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime
If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM, NCVO has provided comprehensive advice 

Protecting the Isolated and Vulnerable (Social Distancing)
Neighbourhood Watch has produced comprehensive guidance on protecting the isolated and vulnerable. Please click here

For details on social distancing, please visit PHE
Guidance for Community Transport 
The Community Transport Association has produced a document called Coronavirus/COVID-19: Guidance for Community Transport for Community Transport Groups to use. This document includes useful information such as:
* precautions you should take
* cleaning your vehicle
* cancelling services.
Please click here to view.

Coronavirus & Mental Health and Wellbeing 
As we find ourselves amidst the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there is justifiable concern for people’s mental health and anxiety, especially those who find themselves in isolation. UK charity Mind, have produce advice on Coronavirus and your wellbeing.

If you or you know someone that is affected, please visit for the latest guidance.

Other useful sites & resources:
Adult Community Learning

Unfortunately we have had to postpone many of our face-to-face community learning events that were due to take place this month and next. Please do continue to sign upto our e-bulletin, visit our website and follow us on Facebook as we are working hard to offer some of the training online and details will be released regarding this next week. Thank you for your patience.
Volunteering during Cornoavirus

We are really pleased to see so many communities across the county coming together in their village, town or parishes hour of need to organise shopping, prescription delivery and support for the elderly and vulnerable. Many of these have been organised organically and on a local level but if you are interested in getting involved with offering others support and don't know where to turn to may we suggest that you get in touch with you local excellent Council for Voluntary Services. Please find links below depending on where in the county you live.
Please click here to read some general good advice for volunteers during the Cornovirus from VCWB
Covid 19 Energy & Fuel Poverty Project: support from CCB offered for families at risk or in fuel poverty in Berkshire

Helen is running a telephone advice line for families who are worried about their bills, or who would like information about ways to reduce their costs, as part of the project outlined below.
She can be contacted on 0773 8887612 on Tuesday 31st March, and Wednesday 1st April between 9.30am – 1pm.

A national charity, National Energy Action are also running a telephone advice line if you need support with your energy bills, or advice on which benefits you need to claim.

You can get in contact with their Warm and Safe Homes Advice Service by calling 0800 304 7159 for free Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm, filling out their referral form ( or messaging them through Facebook chat via their dedicated Facebook page.

Covid-19 update – the government have agreed measures with all energy suppliers to support customers who are self-isolating.  Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied. This could include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted. More broadly, any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.

Handy advice from M&S on how we can better store food to reduce waste and use what we have

There are lots of foods that you can put straight in the freezer instead of the fridge. This includes meat and poultry, ready prepared meals, fresh pasta, bread – and did you know you can even freeze butter and cheese? Here’s some examples:

Milk: All milk can be stored in the freezer and defrosted before use. Just make sure it’s still sealed. It should be defrosted fully in the fridge before using.

Cheese: Some hard cheeses freeze very well, firmer types like cheddar, gouda and Swiss cope well with the freezing process and maintaining their structure. You can freeze in blocks or grate it and freeze in handy portion sizes.

Bread: Baked goods like bread, rolls, pittas, bagels and crumpets can all be easily frozen. Loaves of bread can be bought ready-sliced or whole to be sliced yourself before freezing. Most toasters have a defrost function so you can toast baked goods from frozen.

Pasta: Fresh pasta is a great option to keep in the freezer. Some pastas won’t have to be defrosted before use either, they’ll defrost once put in boiling water.

Fruit and vegetables: Our frozen fruit and vegetables in the freezer aisle are not the only option; some fresh fruits like bananas and berries when frozen make great ingredients for smoothies and for baking.

Batch cooking: Consider cooking a larger portion at mealtimes to freeze for a later date. Make sure you freeze the leftovers as soon as possible, once they’ve fully cooled and mark clearly the date it was cooked and frozen on the container for later reference. And only defrost or re-heat the meal once.

Got feedback? We'd love to hear from you. If you have any comments or articles you would like to be included in the next edition please e-mail
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