The UK Government has set out a roadmap for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the future of the shielding programme.
From Monday 6 July, the guidance changed so that people who have been shielding can meet in groups of up to six people from outside their household – outdoors with social distancing.
For example, if you want to enjoy a summer BBQ outside at a friend’s house you can attend, but remember it is still important to maintain social distancing and you should not share items such as cups and plates. If you live alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), you will be able to form a support bubble with another household.
From Saturday 1 August, you will no longer need to shield, and the advice will be that you can visit shops and places of worship, but you should continue maintaining rigorous social distancing.
Why is the guidance changing now?
The UK Government has developed the roadmap in line with the latest scientific and medical advice and with the safety and welfare of those who are shielding in mind. Current statistics show that the rate of catching coronavirus in the community continues to decrease. On average less than 1 in 1,700 in our communities are estimated to have the virus, down from 1 in 500 four weeks ago.
Unless advised otherwise by your clinician, you are still in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category and should continue to follow the advice for that category. Find out more about GOV.UK's guidance on shielding.
We will continue to work with the UK Government to monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spread too much, you may be advised you to shield again.
If you are in receipt of Government provided food boxes and medicine deliveries, you will continue to receive this support until the end of July.
If you’re on the Government shielding list, you can apply for priority supermarket deliveries by calling 0800 028 8327 or register for supermarket deliveries online. If you have not already registered, you’ll need to do so before Friday 17 July.
Emergency Contact Centre
Our Emergency Contact Centre provides help for those who need support due to the disruptions caused by coronavirus. The service is for people who don't have any support networks to help them through this period, including those who are vulnerable and need emergency support with things such as essential food or help with medication. You can complete online forms to request assistance here.
If you're unable to fill the online forms in, you can call us (01226) 774444 or 0808 196 3531 (freephone)
Lines are open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Please only use these phone numbers for calls regarding vulnerable people in relation to coronavirus. The time we spend answering general enquiries means we have fewer resources to help those who desperately need it.
If you're a BSL (British Sign Language) user you can contact us using our video relay service. You can also find out more about the BSL video relay service and how to use it.
NHS Volunteer Responders
Support will continue to be available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme beyond the end of July.
NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:
- Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies.
- A regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks.
- Transport to a medical appointment.
Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or speak to your health case professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf. Find out more about NHS volunteer responders.
What support will be available after July?
From Saturday 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable people will continue to have access to priority supermarket delivery slots if you have registered online before Friday 17 July for a priority delivery slot.
Our Emergency Contact Centre, Barnsley Community Responders and NHS Volunteer Responders will also continue to offer support to those who need it.
The NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme has been expanded to offer a new Check-in and Chat Plus role. This new role has been designed to provide peer support and companionship to people who are shielding as they adapt to a more normal way of life.
If you are vulnerable or at risk and need help with shopping, medication or other essential supplies, please call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).
The updated shielding guidance should not affect any social care or support you were receiving prior to the start of shielding. Individuals should continue to contact their local council if they have any ongoing social care needs.
Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell).
People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should continue to access the NHS services they need during this time. This may be delivered in a different way or in a different place than they are used to, for example via an online consultation, but if they do need to go to the hospital or attend another health facility for planned care, extra planning and protection will be put in place.
Mental health support
It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low. Follow the advice that works for you in the guidance on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19.
If you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health or you are looking for more support for someone else, we would urge you to speak to a GP.
Local mental health support contacts
- Umbrella is our commissioned service which provides early support interventions for individuals with low to mild mental health.
- If you live in Barnsley and are over the age of 16, IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is a service provided through the NHS to help people to get quick and easy access to the best type of therapy for their individual needs.
- You can contact the Samaritan’s free, 24-hour listening service on 116 123 or email Samaritans.
- The Barnsley 24/7 mental health helpline is available to provide 24-hour confidential help and advice, to anyone registered with a GP in Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield and Barnsley.
- The listening Ear Bereavement service provides support anyone in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw who has been bereaved during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Accessible through a freephone number, the service offers meaningful support, advice and guidance when it’s needed most.
Income and employment support
At this time, people who are shielding are advised not to go to work, this guidance remains advisory.
Those shielding will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the basis of their shielding status until the 31 July. SSP eligibility criteria apply. From 1 August, if clinically extremely vulnerable people are unable to work from home but need to work, they can, as long as the business is COVID safe.
The Government is asking employers to work with them to ease the transition back to a more normal way of life for their shielding employees. It is important that this group continues to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to another role if required.
Where this is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest onsite roles that enable them to maintain social distancing.
If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, they can continue to use the Job Retention Scheme for shielded employees who have already been furloughed.
Council Tax, Local Council Tax Support and Free School Meals
If you’re struggling to pay your council tax you can contact the team by calling 01226 787787 and selecting option two.
If you receive local council tax support and free school meals and your income has decreased, please complete a change in circumstances form as you may be entitled a further help with council tax. Complete our benefits change in circumstances form.
Entitlement to local council tax support and free school meals will be reassessed as soon as possible. If, in the meantime, you are struggling to pay your council tax, please call us using the number above so you can discuss a payment arrangement with the team.
if your income has decreased but you are not entitled to universal credit then you may still be entitled to local council tax support or free school meals. Please complete the form online.
If you know someone who does not have access to the internet, they can phone our team on 01226 787787 and select option three. The team will then make an appointment to call them back at a suitable time and go through the form over the phone.
Council Tax Hardship Scheme
The UK Government have announced that a Council Tax Hardship Scheme will be available to those people that receive local council tax support. If you are eligible, an additional £150 will be deducted from your bill. You do not need to apply; a new bill will be issued to you around the end of July.