THESE are challenging times for local businesses.

The pandemic has hit all aspects of life hard and not least our independent shops and firms.

Non-essential stores and pubs have been forced to close and workforces will have been seriously affected by lockdown restrictions.

However, we know there are plenty of brilliant things still going on within the business community of north Essex.

People are staying positive and creative, adapting to the challenging circumstances.

And even those who have been forced to close will hopefully come back with a vengeance in the not too distant future.

With that in mind, we want to do our bit to champion local shops, pubs and businesses.

Money spent locally is recycled locally, often paying for local suppliers, giving local people work and preserving livelihoods.

Every thriving community needs their economy to prosper and that's why we're committed to encouraging people to buy on their doorstep. Stay local, shop local.

Do you run your own business or pub?

If so, drop us a line below by telling us what's special about your business.

How have you coped and adapted during the pandemic and what plans do you have for the future?

We'll do our best to feature as many businesses online and in our newspapers.