FOR the community on Mersea Island life has changed dramatically amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And for businesses it has meant having to adapt to help serve their population.

There have been amended opening hours, phone ordering and deliveries organised.

Mersea Barns was in the throws of marking its first anniversary when lockdown meant its popular cafe must shut.

Undeterred owner Anthea Sanderson set about finding ways to help people across the island.

She said: "We got the chefs in the kitchen to make frozen meals and we have everything from pies to lasagne to ready meals.

"We started making them and selling them through a kiosk. We have also got a deli and a food shop – we are now a bit like a mini supermarket.

"We have also worked with our food supplies to create meat boxes and vegetable boxes.

“People can order on our websites and can order everything from bleach to meat boxes to ready meals.”

Anthea said the business was having to constantly evolve as Government advice and people’s needs changed.

“I am not sure what the next few months are going to bring,” she added.

Gaile Douglas who runs Fred’s DIY says the shop has “never been busier”.

The shop has introduced social distancing and runs deliveries in the afternoon.

Gaile said: “Being a small business it was a lot easier for us to go to social distancing measures.

“I feel so sorry for the businesses which have had to totally shut up.

“We have one door open. People queue up outside all standing two metres apart and we let them in one at a time.

“It has been a bit like going back to the 1970s.

“We have never been so busy. My son was due to sit his GCSEs this year and he is now working for the business.

“We have seen so many new faces and we have been speaking to people."

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

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

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

You can let us know about 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