If you are at high risk from coronavirus and are shielding, and have little or no support, you can get help to get food and medicine delivered.
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If you’re not able to leave the house because you’re shielding, and you’re not able to get food from the supermarkets (can anyone even get a delivery?!), then you still have options – don’t worry.
Help when you need to stay home
There are around 1.5 million people who are clinically vulnerable and have been told to stay home and shield from coronavirus.
Although people cannot get out safely, and if there is no support network of family or friends to help, the government is no longer supplying food boxes as there were in the first lockdown.
From March 2020, food boxes were being delivered from the government.
In the first week alone, 50,000 free food boxes had been sent out.
The food boxes contained essential supplies and household items such as pasta, cornflakes, tinned goods, fruit, tea bags, toilet roll and biscuits.
It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of boxes were delivered every week. Some 5 million boxes were delivered in total to 450,000 people.
Instead, there are other options.
How to get help
Instead of a government food box, people who are shielding and have a medical condition which makes them extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19) have been prioritised by the supermarkets for online delivery slots.
For anyone else, including people who need to isolate, most supermarket delivery slots are fully booked, but here are some other places who deliver food and supplies.
If you’re not getting priority delivery slots and there is no help locally to you, you can register for help with the government.
To register, they will ask for your NHS number, which you should be able to find on any letter the NHS has sent you. Or, you will be able to see it on a prescription.
Don’t worry if you can’t find it as you can still register without it.
You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else.
If you were on the supermarket priority list for food delivery slots before 31 July 2020, you’ll stay on the list.
This service is available in England. There’s separate guidance for:
Support from the Royal Voluntary Service
To get help collecting food and medicine, or having the chance to chat with someone if you’re lonely, is possible with the support of volunteers.
Run by the Royal Voluntary Service, they can help you:
- avoid busy places by collecting your shopping, medicines and other important items
- have regular contact with you by making regular friendly phone calls
- get you to medical appointments by giving lifts
You can find out more information (or maybe volunteer yourself) on the NHS Volunteer Responders site or call them for free on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).
The service is not just there for the clinically vulnerable.
They will support anyone who lives in England (for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, please check with your local council) who needs to self-isolate for any reason.
Even if you’re trying to stay at home as much as possible because you are cautious about the outbreak, they will also be able to help.
People they help
Reach out for support if:
- You have ever been advised to shield by a health professional.
- You are vulnerable for another reason, (for instance, due to disability, pregnancy, aged over 70, you have a long-term condition such as Parkinson’s or epilepsy, or are vulnerable due to a mental health condition).
- You have caring responsibilities.
- You are self-isolating because you have been diagnosed with coronavirus or have symptoms, or you’ve been in contact with someone who has.
- You have been instructed to self-isolate by the ‘Test and Trace’ service, because you’ve been near someone infected.
- You are self-isolating ahead of planned hospital care.
- You have been instructed to self-isolate following entry into the country.
Can you get a supermarket delivery?
If you can’t get out to the shops, the supermarkets have put scheduled times in place for the elderly, vulnerable and disabled, as well as NHS staff and other key workers.
This gives set times when it won’t be so busy without the general public.
On top of this, supermarkets can give priority to online bookings. You can apply for this using the link above.
Morrisons has launched a food box to make getting essential foods easier, and M&S is also launching one. The food boxes can feed two adults for a week.
Supermarkets aren’t the only option
If you need to get a delivery of food, there are loads of other options to get food delivered to your door.
Free school meal vouchers are also issued.
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