THESE are difficult and, for some, absolutely terrible, times.

They are unprecedented in our lifetime. But we will get through the coronavirus pandemic and that will happen by working together and helping each other.

In that spirit today the Echo begins its #BackingEssexBusiness campaign.

The county needs to come out of this crisis fighting.

The fantastic businesses we have must be given every chance to survive.

They are getting support from the Government and many have already thought up new and innovative ways to keep trading.

This has to be done in a responsible way, of course, with social distancing vitally important as we work to stop the spread of Covid-19. We want to highlight the selfless work already being carried out by firms handing food out to the needy and supplying clothing.

And we also want to shine a light on those who continue to trade and do what they can to keep people safely in work.

We pledged we would always be #ThereWithYou. Today, we are extending our support to our business community.

We pledge to back our local, independent and family-run businesses, doing what we can to help them through this difficult time.

And we are calling on our readers to join us.

Let’s highlight the positive things going on in our community. Let’s shout proudly and loudly about the local businesses which are still open in Essex.

And we are asking readers and businesses which can to help us in this campaign.

Echo editor Victoria Birch said: “What we are beginning to see now is the best in people.

“These are stressful and frightening times.

“It all still feels like a bad dream.

“It is hard for businesses who need to keep going so they can thrive again when coronavirus has been contained.

“To be honest it is hard for the Echo and all newspapers too, but it is vital we continue to get true and accurate information out there which people desperately need at this time.

“There is so much information out there on social media and the internet.

“But we are bringing the latest information together, from scientists, doctors, our councils and the Government and we can be a voice for all of you who are confined, but not beaten.

“When people are expressing their opinion, it is clearly described as such and not dressed up as fact. We must continue to champion businesses too.

“If you have any examples of a business going above and beyond then please get in touch by emailing"

Our sales team also continues to work during the pandemic to advertise services and keep businesses alive during these most testing of times.

Senior sales manager Chloe Walsh said: “We are best-placed to lead on this campaign as we reach a huge percentage of the local population.

“As this crisis develops, the communities we serve will continue to rely on us to keep them informed.

“We have already seen a significant increase in traffic to the Echo website and we know our papers are voraciously read.

“We will ensure we are really banging the drum for independent, local and family-owned businesses and encouraging our loyal readership to show their support by shopping local.

“Any business which wants to be featured in our campaign should get in touch.

“I have also instructed my team to reach out to these businesses over the coming days and make them aware of our campaign, many of these businesses have supported us for several years by advertising their products and services within our titles and at this time it is appropriate we show our support.

“If any other businesses would like to come on board as a partner I urge them to reach out to me directly.”

Readers can support the campaign by using the hashtag #BackingEssexBusiness.

You can shout out a local business which has gone above and beyond, or tell us about the ways your business is coping.

For more information about supporting the campaign, email

'In times like this, it's more important than ever to shop local'

INDEPENDENT, local and family-run businesses in Essex need customers’ support more than ever as the coronavirus hits trade.

The Echo is urging people to shop local and support businesses in any way they can, including sharing their stories about local businesses and the extra efforts they make to serve their customers during the crisis.

Many shops, businesses and restaurants in the county are already suffering from a significant drop in takings.

They are urging customers to support them by buying products online and getting goods delivered to their homes. We also want to hear about the feel-good story of how businesses are helping others.

Nando’s staff at a Basildon branch helped to spread the love to those on the frontline at Basildon Hospital.

The team from Nando’s, in Mayflower Retail Park, Basildon, refused to let any food go to waste by giving away wraps, burgers, rice and fillets to those working on the frontline in Basildon Hospital.

Courtney Brunning, supervisor at Nando’s in Mayflower Retail Park, said: “We know in these tiring and scary times that the NHS staff are working so hard to ensure we’re all safe, so when deciding to help those who are in need, they were our number one option.”

Delicious daily deliveries still on offer  

A FAMILY-run Indian restaurant which has been in business for more than 45 years, is offering a daily delivery service following the huge hit businesses have taken since the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Tandoori Parlour, at Hart Road, in Thundersley, are not just known for fantastic Indian and Nepalese food, but for its largely accommodating restaurant and dancefloor.

Both The Tandoori Parlour and Wheelers, at Bread and Cheese Hill, will be offering a free delivery service to ensure members of the public can still enjoy Indian cuisine.

Things haven’t been easy for local businesses, and the Echo wants to urge people to support independent businesses more than ever during these unprecedented times.

Shah Ali, owner of The Tandoori Parlour and Wheelers, said: “We have a centralised line now where customers ringing through to both Tandoori Parlour and Wheelers will come through to the same line.

“We are offering contactless deliveries after 5.30pm to those within a five-mile radius.

“The drivers wear gloves and our chefs are taking extra measures to ensure our customers are protected by following the government guidelines.

“We have a five-star hygiene rating anyway, as safety is extremely important to us.

“Our restaurant staff are like family - many of them have been with us for a long time - so to ensure we can still give them work, they are helping out with the delivery side of things now.

“We have taken a serious loss by having to close our restaurants, but we are surviving and staying afloat.

“In troubled times like these we all have to stick together.”

'We're adjusting to keep going during outbreak'

INDEPENDENT business across south Essex are rapidly having to adjust to new measures following the Covid-19 outbreak.

With several shops forced to close and letting staff go, many are doing all they can to keep going despite taking massive losses on a daily basis.

Halstead Gazette:

With just a quarter of its regular workforce, Hockley Market Garden Centre, at Lower Road, in Hockley, is trading as best they can, with a focus on selling fresh fruit and veg, and eggs, all from local suppliers.

Given the difficulties people have experienced trying to buy food from supermarkets, the garden centre could make a great alternative, not only for accessibility of produce, but the fact it’s fresh, and keeping other small businesses running.

The centre is closed to customers, but it is offering customers a call and collect service, and following a strict hygiene and cleanliness routine, and following government advice on social distancing.

Customers are able to purchase items over the phone and collect at an allocated time to avoid over crowding. Staff thoroughly wipe down trolleys before loading them with the packaged goods that have been ordered, and leave them in the overflow car park for customers to collect before cleaning the trolleys again after.

Owner, Tommy White, 29, has also seen a spike in customers wanting to purchase plants in order to keep busy in the garden.

He talked about how gardening is playing a huge part in keeping people well mentally.

He, said: “Lots of people have been taking up gardening and buying plants as a way to keep busy but its also great for people’s mental health.

“We are just keeping afloat and making sure we have staff so they are still able to get something in their pockets.

“We are ensuring we provide a zero-contact service and staff are all wearing gloves and masks, regularly cleaning, and keeping in line with the Government guidelines on social distancing.”