Healthy shielding

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.

If you have not already registered to get coronavirus support from the government, you can register online or call 0800 028 8327. You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else.

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:

The NHS website contains information on how to eat well, including tips for a healthy, balanced diet. NHS One You provide information on easy ways to eat better, including healthy recipes.

The Association of UK Dietitians provide information on food and the immune system, food and mood, and basic store cupboard ideas for older adults.

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.

Mental wellbeing

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.

Online support

For advice regards talking to a child about coronavirus, YoungMinds have a great resource.

Telephone support

  • 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.

Stopping smoking

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.

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:


Further health and wellbeing resources in the Bristol area are available on the Bristol City Council website.

North Somerset

Further advice on looking after your wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak is available on North Somerset Council website.

South Gloucestershire

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

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.

Health services during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Community health services in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have made changes to the way they work to support hospital services and provide a safe working environment for staff and patients.