Hi readers. Bloggie Ben here back with another blog based on the much-discussed Coronavirus / Covid19. Before we get into things, I want to apologise for the lack of blog posts recently. Things have become extremely busy for The AoC, The AoC Trust and The ACC Contact Centre, even when working from home! We will be aiming to bring you more regular blogs from now on which will be shorter in content but still deeply knowledgeable and helpful based on trending, hot topics.

In my lifetime, we have never experienced anything even close to this Coronavirus pandemic. Life on planet earth has changed drastically across the globe, and I will be hoping to share my understanding of what Coronavirus is.

What is the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus, also known as Covid-19 is a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new virus, have made the jump to humans, but most just cause cold-like symptoms. Covid-19 is closely related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) which swept around the world in 2002 to 2003. That virus infected around 8,000 people and killed about 800, but it soon ran itself out, largely because most of those infected were seriously ill so it was easier to control.

Another coronavirus is Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), cases of which have been occurring sporadically since it first emerged in 2012 – there have been around 2,500 cases and nearly 900 deaths.

Covid-19 is different to these two other coronaviruses: the spectrum of disease is broad; with around 80 per cent of cases leading to a mild infection. There may also be many people carrying the disease and displaying no symptoms, making it even harder to control.

The new coronavirus has spread to nearly every country in the world since it first emerged in China, at the beginning of the year. More than 4.8 million people are known to be infected and more than 318,000 deaths have been recorded – including around 35,000 in the UK (as of May 2020).

So far, around 20 per cent of Covid-19 cases have been classed as “severe” and the current death rate varies between 0.7 per cent and 3.4 per cent depending on the location and, more crucially, accessing good hospital care.

Scientists are led to believe that the virus has mutated into 2 different strains one being more aggressive than the other, meaning increased difficulty creating a vaccine.

The source of the coronavirus is believed to be a “wet market” in Wuhan which sold both dead and live animals including fish and birds.  Such markets pose a heightened risk of viruses jumping from animals to humans because hygiene standards are difficult to maintain if live animals are being kept and butchered on site. Typically, they are also densely packed allowing disease to spread from species to species. An example of a wet market can be seen here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7nZ4mw4mXw

The animal source for Covid19 has not yet been confirmed but the original source is said to be bats. There were no bats sold at the wet market in Wuhan, but they could have infected any of the other animals that were being sold there. Bats are also said to host other viruses such as HIV, rabies and Ebola.


Symptoms & Lockdown

The first symptoms identified included a fever, a dry and continuous cough, tiredness and a general feeling of being unwell. Newly added symptoms of a loss of taste and smell as well as stomach problems have also now been added to the symptoms. You can see more about the symptoms at the following link – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/symptoms-covid-19-coronavirus-anosmia/

The UK went into lock down on 23rd March 2020, where the UK were told to ‘stay home and protect the NHS’. Only key workers could work, unless working from home and only essential trips such as food shopping were allowed. This caused a lot of panic buying; shocking the system of food outlets and supermarkets with shelves left empty.

Since then, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made some slight amendments to the ‘lockdown’ and eased some of the restrictions. In a televised address to the nation, he encouraged construction and manufacturing workers to head back to work.

He said: “We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance, those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.”

The PM also revealed Brits could enjoy unlimited time exercising outside after previously only be able to do one form of exercise a day.

Also, Mr Johnson confirmed the government’s plan for schools to reopen by June 1 2020, and revealed that those coming to the UK by air will be ordered to be quarantined. Previously, lockdown measures in late March gave police the power to fine people if they left their homes for “non-essential” reasons.

People were allowed to leave their homes for the following reasons:

  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day – for example: a run, walk or cycle – alone or with members of their household
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where they cannot work from home

The lockdown saw the cancellation of many worldwide events, such as concerts, Euro 2021 and much more. Nearly all football competitions were halted, and some have ended prematurely with the league’s being null and void whereas others have ended with the current standings causing a big issue as teams had points and positions to fight for. An example of this is Heart from the Scottish Premier League who have been relegated when they still had the chance to keep themselves in the league. This could have huge implications such as players leaving, and less money being earned through their league position. Hearts are seeking legal advice to combat the decision. Holidays, weddings and much more have also needed to be rescheduled for later in the year or even 2021.

Keeping Yourself Safe

Like cold and flu bugs, the virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.

It follows that the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself is keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitising gel.

There is no evidence yet that the virus is airborne, but this could yet change. Airborne viruses linger for a longer period of time. The current advice is that the disease can only be spread between close contacts – defined as spending more than fifteen minutes within two metres of an infected person.

How The AoC and The AoC Trust Can Help

A lot of people have become lonely during the pandemic as they live alone. Others feel trapped in their own home and some have seen a raise in their anxieties and mental health issues. People need our support now more than ever and The Arts of Change Trust or (The AoC Trust) can offer our high quality, professional counselling and therapy service – ConnectME to you or anyone you know in need. ConnectME is funded by The National Lottery and is specifically for those people living or working anywhere in the West Midlands, who are either frontline, keyworker or struggling to cope as a direct result from Covid-19.

Our staff are currently working from home, but face to face sessions will be resuming at our centre in Central Dudley from the 29th June 2020. Our trained counsellors and therapists’ can also support you via telephone or video call sessions using the free app Zoom or Skype.

Even more good news – The AoC Trust in collaboration with ACC Dudley Child Contact Centre, is also providing free child contact sessions between now and December 2020 for parents also affected by Covid-19 – allowing them the opportunity to see their child/ren, especially difficult, when we have all had to maintain social distancing. But hurry, as free places are limited.

There will also be a toolkit creative resource online coming out shortly to teach parents and guardians how to interact and connect more playfully with their children online and face-to-face.

To find out more or make a referral simply call 01384 211168 or email us at support@theaoc.org.uk

The lockdown may have also put a strain on your relationships with your partner or family members. We can offer family or couples counselling to help with this too. Our therapists and counsellors are ready and waiting to offer their support to you and anyone in need during these unprecedented times.

More good news. Waiting times to get a place on ConnectME are just days or weeks not months!

If the coronavirus has put constraints on contact between you and your ex-partner and your child/ren and this has disrupted your child/ren’s family life, we can also help. The ACC Contact Centre based in central Dudley can offer contact sessions that are affordable for all.

Even more good news – The AoC Trust in collaboration with ACC Dudley Child Contact Centre, is also providing free child contact sessions between now and December 2020 for parents also affected by Covid-19 – allowing them the opportunity to see their child/ren, especially difficult, when we have all had to maintain social distancing. But hurry, as free places are limited.

ACC provide a supervised and supported contact centre for children to be able to see their non-resident parent(s), and other non-resident family members. ACC offers a professional, safe, caring and supportive environment in the heart of Dudley Town Centre, West Midlands.

The contact centre is open daily and during evenings and weekends.

ACC is affiliated and regulated by the National Association for Child Contact Centres (NACCC) which ensures all our staff team and volunteers are fully trained and provide best practice and quality for all children and you.


For more information please call us on 01384 211 168 or send an email to support@acccontactcentre.com

We look forward to supporting you and your family.

My Views on the Coronavirus

The coronavirus has had a big effect on my life like others, but thankfully, none of my family or close friends have been affected by the virus and, hopefully, that continues as my mom, sister and other family members and friends are key workers on the frontline battling the virus each day.

I have continued to work from home, which was strange at first, but I am quite used to it now. Work has remained very busy for The AoC, The AoC Trust and The ACC Contact Centre – which I am grateful for. I think if I were to be in lockdown with no work to do, it would have driven me crazy by now. It’s good to have something meaningful to focus on throughout the working week, and to know that we are also providing such a needed service at this highly difficult time.

I first thought I would struggle to work from home, due to distractions around the house, but this has not been the case. I’ve found it easy to focus on my work by working in a separate room without a TV or other distractions. My partner, gives me space whilst I work as she looks after our daughter. The biggest benefits of working from home for me is that I don’t have to travel into work, as this took quite a chunk of time due to using public transport, and I get to spend more time with my daughter whilst on my break.

I have been quite anxious around leaving my home, and have only made essential journeys for food shopping. I have not left the house for anything else which is strange, but the safest thing to do to protect me and my family. I have missed seeing family outside of our home: especially my parents, I have really missed football. Playing and watching football are my main hobbies, and I’ve felt quite lost without them. I cannot wait to get playing again to maintain some fitness, and also to watch my beloved Aston Villa – who are fighting to survive in the Premier League. Hopefully, the break they have had has given them time to reflect, and put plans in place for improvement which means we keep our Premier League status. Time will tell, as football in England returns on June 17th, 2020.

I am still quite anxious about the thought of going back to normal life, and with having to use public transport, where you have no choice than to be around strangers in proximity. I also fear places will become over-crowded, because people will be eager to attend places they have been unable to, since lockdown: such as restaurants, gyms and especially pubs and bars. Could this lead to a second spike of the virus? Who knows?

My personal opinion is that the lockdown has been eased too soon. UK death rates are now higher than any other country worldwide with other countries keeping stricter measures for a longer period of time. People were breaking the rules when lockdown was at its most strict, so I fear they will not listen even more now putting us all at risk. I do not envy Boris Johnson who has had to make difficult decisions since his tenure as Prime Minster with Brexit followed by the pandemic.

With no clear picture when things will return to normality for some, I wish you all well and hope you all stay safe. I would like to end this blog by saying one huge “thank you!” to our NHS and to all other key workers and non-key workers who have had to continue working whilst the planet has been in quarantine, and who have been outstanding and deserve all the plaudits they are given.

Thank you for reading.

Bloggie Ben.