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Helpful helplines

Vital information you might need to know.

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Energy and the coronavirus outbreak

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Can I still switch my energy supplier?  

Yes, you can still switch with Energy Helpline as usual - nothing’s changed our end.  

Everything is functioning as it normally would, and you can switch on our main page by entering your postcode to get started.  

Are there any tariffs I can’t switch to?

Energy suppliers aren’t sending engineers out to homes unless the customer is vulnerable, so switching to a tariff that requires any sort of installation, such as a smart tariff with the fitting of a smart meter, will be prohibited.  

Other tariffs that can be switched to without the need of an engineer coming to your home (the majority) are all still going ahead. So if you’re interested, visit Energy Helpline today, and compare more UK energy suppliers than with any other comparison service.

Compare with us or call 0800 990 3503 to save and switch today.  

Food deliveries and the coronavirus outbreak

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Food deliveries are still operational, delivery slots permitting. With the UK Government advising people to have their food shop delivered where they can, it’s proving very difficult for some.  

Food shops are prioritising the elderly (over 70s), who have been instructed to remain in their homes no matter what. Where able, families are taking food parcels to their elderly relatives, but it’s important to note that food delivery slots will be first of all given to people over 70.  

As mentioned in the food bank section, other bodies are helping deliver food parcels from local community shops to elderly residents. If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth contacting your local shops to see if they’ll deliver your weekly food shop directly to your door.

How safe are home deliveries?  

It’s completely understandable to be worried about the safety of home deliveries. You can only trust the precautions taken by the delivery driver so much, so take your own. 

Ask for the shopping to be placed two metres away from your front door, and use gloves to bring the bags into your home. Before touching anything else, dispose of the gloves. To be extra cautious, you can wipe down the food packages with antibacterial wipes where possible. Also, remember to wipe any and all surfaces that might have come into contact with the food packages prior to you cleaning them.

Supermarket opening hours and priority during the coronavirus outbreak

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Supermarket opening hours have changed up and down the country, so we thought it’d be useful to have all of them in one place, along with their priority access for the elderly and key workers.  

Aldi

Open 8am - 10pm Monday to Saturday  

All day everyday key workers in the NHS, Police and Fire Service will take priority in queues. Stores also open 30 minutes earlier than usual for the elderly Monday to Saturday.  

Asda

Open 8am - 10pm Monday to Saturday  

Only open for NHS workers for browsing Monday, Wednesday and Friday between 8am and 9am.  

Co-op

Most stores open 7am-8pm Monday to Saturday  

Prioritised citizen hour between 8am and 9am Monday to Saturday, and between 10am and 11am Sunday.  

Lidl

Lidl’s opening hours differ from store to store. To check your local Lidl store, visit Lidle’s store locator.  

Healthcare workers are being offered queuing priority.  

Sainsbury’s  

Open 7:30am-8pm Monday to Saturday and regular times Sunday  

The time between 7.30am and 8am will be reserved especially for key workers, while the time between 8am and 9am is reserved for elderly shoppers Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Tesco

Tesco have reduced opening hours in 24-hour stores. Within normal stores, opening hours remain the same.  

The elderly are prioritised between 9am and 10am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. An additional hour is being added to prioritise NHS workers every Tuesday and Thursday.  

Waitrose

Opening hours remain the same.  

Daily essentials are being kept aside for NHS workers, and they have priority queuing at checkouts. Elderly have priority during the first hour of opening each day.  

Food banks and the coronavirus outbreak

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Are food banks still open?

Food banks are a vital part of some people’s lives, that’s why the Trussell Trust’s priority is ensuring the safety of everyone involved while still remaining operational.  

Food banks rely on the generosity of volunteers, who will continue to work through these trying times in order to support their local communities.  

Are people allowed in food banks?  

To put it plainly, no, people aren’t allowed into food banks during the coronavirus. The whole procedure of how people collect their food has completely changed in order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.  

Staff are being instructed to prepare the food parcels, and are taking them outside and placing them on a table where the clients queue two metres apart from one another and wait to collect.  

How do I collect my food if I am vulnerable?  

If you are classed as a vulnerable citizen and do not want to venture outside your home, you can have your food parcel delivered to your door. Your food bank will most likely be aware if you are vulnerable, but it won’t hurt to contact them to double check.  

Food bank deliveries require the support of local communities, but other organisations (such as British Gas) are also pitching in and delivering food parcels to vulnerable people.  

How do I collect my red voucher during the coronavirus?  

Check your local food bank to find out the procedure, but you’ll probably find they are moving away from the red voucher system to an e-referral system to avoid human contact where possible.  

Clients are being advised to contact the referral agency, who will then issue an e-voucher which will be sent directly to the food bank. Food bank staff will then prepare the client’s package and have it ready for them to pick up in a queue system as mentioned above, or they will arrange for it to be delivered to the client.  

What other precautions are being taken?  

The number of staff on a shift at each time has also been reduced, which allows volunteers to keep a safe distance from one another while they work.  

Staff are also told to wash their hands as soon as they enter the food bank before putting latex disposable gloves on. All surfaces the packets of food come into contact with are being cleaned after each use.  

No volunteers over the age of 70 are allowed to work at food banks for their own safety, too.  

Mental health and the coronavirus outbreak

For those who suffer from anxiety, depression and general mental health issues, lockdown and self isolation might prove extremely difficult.

A change in routine, unable to leave your house except for essential journeys, the banning of social gatherings and travel to see friends and loved ones, and the general fear about the virus itself can all have an impact on mental wellbeing, among others.  

Thankfully, there are people to talk to and advice to be given on how to make the best out of a bad situation. Mind’s web page, Coronavirus and your wellbeing, offers some really insightful advice for people who are struggling while having to stay inside, along with helpful exercises and things you can add into your routine to help you cope.  

Mental health and financial support  

Losing income, or perhaps even your job, due to the coronavirus outbreak is going to take its toll.

The UK Government has a page on coronavirus guidance for employees. It talks you through matters such as furloughing, Universal Credit for the self-employed and support for rent costs.  

Furloughing during the coronavirus outbreak  

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If you are unable to continue performing your job because of the lockdown, your employer might choose to furlough you. The Government has said they will pay 80% of an employee’s wages up to £2,500 a month if this is the case.  

If your salary is reduced considerably due to being furloughed, there is extra aid you can apply for such as Universal Credit. You might be eligible to receive Universal Credit if you qualify for any of the following:

  • You’re on a low income or out of work
  • You’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • You’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • You and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
  • You live in the UK

The GOV.UK page on Universal Credit goes into much greater depth, so if you think you qualify for added help, you can get more information there.

Domestic abuse and the coronavirus outbreak

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What help is available to victims of domestic abuse?

If you are a victim of domestic abuse then there is help available, and we’ll take you through those options now. It’s extremely important to note that the isolation instructions due to the coronavirus outbreak do not apply to those who need to leave their homes to escape domestic abuse.  

Calling the police when you can’t make a noise

If you are afraid of calling the police in case you are heard, you can dial 999, listen to the questions from the operator and respond by coughing or tapping the headset. You will then be put through to the Silent Solution, which will end with it asking you to press 55 to be put through to police call management. From here, the police call handler will do their best to get help to you and assist you where possible. Pressing 55 only works if calling from a mobile.

If you are calling from a landline and remain silent, BT call operators will connect you to the police. When 999 calls are made from landlines, information about your location should be made available to the call handler to help provide a response.  

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Refuge runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which can be called for free 24 hours a day on 0800 2000 247.  

Refuge’s website gives advice and support for victims, and can also provide guidance for people who are worried about friends and loved ones. They offer a vast array of help, including step-by-step instructional videos on how to secure electronic devices.

To explore other ways victims of domestic abuse can be helped, visit the GOV.UK’s guide, Coronavirus (COVID-19): Support for victims of domestic abuse.  

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