This guidance is for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and have been asked to shield during the pandemic.
There are over 2 million people in the UK who have been asked to shield, and approximately 30,000 in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire - you are not alone.
It is important to try and keep as healthy as possible during the time you are shielding. Staying healthy will make shielding easier, prevent long term health conditions worsening, and improve your ability to recover from a coronavirus infection if you catch it.
Here you will find practical information and advice to support you to keep healthy whilst shielding, including:
Food and groceries
If you need support with food or shopping, contact your local authority:
- Bristol City Council: Call 0800 694 0184 or complete a contact form
- North Somerset County Council: Call 01934 427 437 or complete an I need help form
- South Gloucestershire County Council: Call 01454 864040 or email Community.email@example.com
If you feel you might benefit from losing weight, consider starting the NHS weight loss plan, which has been downloaded more than 7 million times and is designed to help you lose weight safely – and keep it off.
Exercise is great for physical and mental health. Do exercise unless you are unwell with the virus. Aim to do some form of exercise each day - every minute counts.
- If you have reduced mobility, these exercises are good for strength, balance and flexibility, or try some exercise whilst sitting
- If you use a wheelchair, these chair exercises are great
- Moderate exercises can be found here
- For fitter people, try the aerobic workout videos in the NHS Fitness Studio
- The British Lung Foundation has put together some specific exercises for people with lung conditions.
Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important whilst shielding. Sleep well, allow yourself and other people space, exercise, don’t do or say the first thing that comes into your head. Breathe.
- Advice on mental wellbeing while staying at home
- Access urgent support if you are having thoughts about self-harm or suicide. You may also find the distrACT app helpful
- You can refer yourself to access psychological therapies for conditions such as depression and anxiety
- To de-stress, have a look at the NHS advice regards Mindfulness, try breathing exercises or consider an online Mindfulness course
- The Help Hub has been set up to support individuals who find themselves struggling emotionally at this time and offers free access to a group of over 800 professional therapists and counsellors
- Creative activity can be great for reducing stress; some organisations are offering access to arts including Art by Post, Get Creative and the National Theatre
For advice regards talking to a child about coronavirus, YoungMinds have a great resource.
- For urgent support if you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Call the Samaritans 24 hour helpline on 116 123
- Shout is a 24/7 UK crisis text service available for times when people feel they need immediate support. Text "SHOUT" to 85258
- Call Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-10pm; Sat-Sun 10am-8pm)
- No Panic offers advice, support, recovery programs and help for people living with phobias, OCD and any other anxiety-based disorders. Call 0844 967 4848 (daily 10am-10pm)
- OCD Action provides support and information to anybody affected by OCD. Call 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm)
- Papyrus is a young suicide prevention charity. Call 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri 10am-10pm; Sat-Sun 2pm-10pm)
- Cruse Bereavement Care offer support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies. Call 0808 808 1677 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)
- For existing service users, and their families and carers, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) has a 24/7 mental health response line. Call 0300 303 1320
Finances and benefits
This is a worrying time for many people financially. There is help and support available if you have less money because of coronavirus. You might be able to claim benefits or get more money if you’re already getting benefits.
- Check what help you can get if you can’t pay your bills
- Find out what to do if you can’t pay your rent or have problems with your rented home
- Check what benefits you can get
- If you’re already getting benefits check if the government has made any changes
- Find out more about being referred to a food bank
Lots of people are managing to quit smoking during lockdown – join them! This will improve your health now and in the future. The craving only lasts 3 minutes.
Alcohol, drugs and gambling
Have alcohol-free days. Alternate alcohol with a soft drink. Try to break the spell.
- If you live in Bristol and would like support with alcohol or drug use Bristol ROADS or the Bristol Drugs Project can offer advice and support
- If you live in North Somerset, the We Are With You service can give advice and support
- If you live in South Gloucestershire, the Drug and Alcohol Service is here to help.
- Alcoholics Anonymous are available on 0800 917 7650 (24-hour helpline).
- Narcotics Anonymous can be contacted on 0300 999 1212 (daily 10am-midnight).
- If you need advice or support about your gambling or someone else’s you can call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 (daily 8am to midnight), or visit Be Gamble Aware.
Help with sleep
It is not uncommon to struggle with sleep in challenging times. Try a simple and regular bedtime routine, wind down and avoid using a smart phone or screen for at least an hour before bed.
Getting help from local councils and local communities
There are many options to access support through local councils and community schemes. These vary from help with food and shopping to dog walking and phone chats. These organisations can support with boredom associated with shielding:
- WeAreBristol are providing general advice and support, call them on 0800 694 0184
- Well Aware provide information on community services in Bristol, you can call them on 0808 808 5252
- Bristol has a Support Hub for people aged >55 which offers practical support, social and emotional support, and virtual activities. Call them on0117 929 7537
- Library services are still available online
Further health and wellbeing resources in the Bristol area are available on the Bristol City Council website.
- North Somerset Together can be contacted on 01934 427 437 for general enquiries
- Find a community support group in North Somerset via the North Somerset Council website.
- Libraries are available online
Further advice on looking after your wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak is available on North Somerset Council website.
- Southern Brookes can be contacted on 0333 577 4666, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Find a community support group via the South Gloucestershire Council website
- Well Aware provide information on community services in South Gloucestershie, you can call them on 0808 808 5252
- South Gloucestershire’s OneYou service offers free one-to-one support with a practitioner. Call the service on 01454 865 337
- Some library services are still available
Further support for vulnerable people, including details of local resources is available on the South Gloucestershire Council website.
Your GP practice
Your GP practice is still open, but is seeing people in a different way due to coronavirus. It is really important that if you feel unwell enough to need a doctor, contact your GP.
Your GP practice knows that you are shielding and will have measures in place to safely provide care to you. If you need regular blood tests or prescriptions for your health conditions, these can be sorted out through your GP practice.
Social Prescribing enables GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker for help with social, emotional or practical problems, often using services provided by the voluntary and community sector.
If this interests you, contact your GP practice for more information.
Resources for specific groups
- The Race Equality Foundation has lots of information and resources on coronavirus.
- Stonewall has useful information about how coronavirus is affecting LGBTQ+ communities.
- For video guidance about coronavirus in multiple languages, visit AskDoc on Youtube.
- SafeLives has information about domestic abuse and coronavirus. If you are not in immediate danger, you can phone the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 200 247. In an emergency, call 999.
- Asthma advice is available through Asthma UK
- If you have a severe respiratory condition you can find lots of advice on the British Lung Foundation website.
- If you have an organ transplant visit Kidney Care UK or the British Liver Trust for information and advice.
- If you have cancer, Macmillan has lots of guidance on their website.