National lockdown: Stay at Home restrictions. More information.

A helping hand for residents

Green and white banner advising residents to wash their hands regularly, wear a face mask if thyey are outside and are able to, and to keep 2m apart from anyone outside their household.

This is where you can find information about coronavirus (COVID-19) including what you can do to protect and help yourself.

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1. Winter support

This winter the council has brought together a comprehensive £750k package that supports the families and vulnerable people who have been most impacted by the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic continues to be a challenging time for many families in Westminster and we want to ensure that no child goes without food or warmth over the winter months.

Schools and the council are continuing to work to ensure that extra support reaches families. Through the work we do in the community we have the information necessary to ensure that this extra funding package meets the most vulnerable families over the winter period.

The package consists of:

  • free school meals

In December the council delivered more than 6,500 vouchers for eligible children and young people to support families during the Christmas break.

For February half-term break, vouchers will again be distributed through schools to the families of almost 6500 eligible children. This will ensure that thousands of families will get an extra £15 per child to help reduce food poverty and support low-income households.

Schools will be contacting eligible families with more information on how to access this support.

  • food vouchers to low-income families

This voucher, which has been distributed to more than 1600 families by the council, aims to provide a helping hand to households that have been identified as in most need of extra support. This covers more than 3000 children and provides a boost of £70 per child to use to help with food over the winter period. 

  • vulnerable families grant

Delivered through our multi-agency Family Hubs, a discretionary voucher will be available to identified vulnerable families. We estimate that there are 700 families within Westminster that may require this additional support and our Family Hubs team are working to ensure that this grant meets families in need.

  • housing hardship fund

We’ve extended support for council housing residents and those with housing needs through the Housing Hardship Fund for fuel and food. This is being delivered by our Housing Services team on a case by case basis to tenants that are identified as needing extra support over winter. 

  • other support

We’re also providing targeted support to the youth sector (c£30k), support for vulnerable adults (c£20k) through support for local charities and for care leavers through a one-off grant. Residents may also be eligible for help because of an emergency or a crisis, through a Local Support Payment available online.

The extra funding has provided as part of the governments ‘Winter COVID grant scheme’ and ensures a range of grants for low-income families and vulnerable people.

If you are worried about your own safety or the safety of your child, please contact the access team on 020 7641 4000 (9am–5pm weekdays) or email accesstochildrensservices@westminster.gov.uk. Outside of these times, please call 020 7641 2388.

2. Schools

On Monday 4 January 2021 the government has announced a delay to the full reopening of schools, colleges, and universities across the country, as part of a national lockdown.

The full return for all year groups in primary and secondary schools and in colleges will be delayed until after the February half term (Monday 22 February 2021), but online learning will continue. Schools will continue to remain open for vulnerable children and the children of key workers if they require it.

Who is eligible to attend during lockdown? (updated 11 January)

  • all children in early years settings. Parents/carers with children in school-based nursery classes should contact their school to confirm arrangements
  • all vulnerable children (children with a social worker or special educational needs) across all year groups in primary, secondary and special schools, alternative provision and colleges
  • children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.
  • all children who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)

All schools have had remote learning in place since September for those children unable to attend and this will continue. Your school will be in contact directly with further details.

Detailed information on eligibility for schooling during lockdown

Why are Early Years settings open? 

The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. The government continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely. 

The wider restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown enable us to prioritise keeping nurseries and childminders open, supporting parents, and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children. Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. 

  • Public Health England advice remains that the risk of transmission and infection is low if early years settings follow the system of controls, which reduce risks and create inherently safer environments
  • 0-5 year olds continue to have the lowest confirmed rates of coronavirus of all age groups, and there is no evidence that the new variant of coronavirus disproportionately affects young children
  • evidence shows that pre-school children are less susceptible to infection and are not playing a driving role in transmission - there is no evidence the new strain of the virus causes more serious illness in either children or adults and there continues to be strong evidence that children are much less susceptible to severe clinical disease than older people

Early years settings have been open to all children since 1 June and there is no evidence that the early years sector has contributed to a rise in virus cases within the community. Early evidence from SAGE showed that early years provision had a smaller relative impact on transmission rate than primary schools, which in turn had a smaller relative impact than secondary schools. Public Health England will continue to monitor the data.  

We appreciate that this is a challenging time for families and that some parents and guardians have understandable concerns about education. We encourage parents and guardians to have a conversation with their child’s school where a member of staff will be able to discuss their approach and address any specific concerns.

To access guidance and service information relating to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), please visit our SEND Local Offer webpage.

Read the government’s guidance for schools

Visit our Family Information Service website

4. Mental health

It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and get further support if you need it. 

Information, tips and simple steps to look after your wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak

5. Test and Trace

NHS Test and Trace is a vital tool in the protection of people and our communities. The NHS Test and Trace service will help to control the rate of reproduction (R), reduce the spread of the infection and save lives.

Visit our dedicated Test and Trace webpage for the latest information from the council about how we are supporting NHS Test and Trace, including links to the NHS COVID-19 app as well as central government and NHS health advice.

 

 

7. Child and domestic abuse

Child abuse

Working alongside Kensington and Chelsea Council (RBKC), we’ve launched a campaign to encourage those who may have concerns about potential child abuse to reach out to those who can help. Find out more.

Domestic abuse

The COVID-19 outbreak brings new challenges for people who are living through domestic abuse. The advice to stay at home may cause anxiety for those who are experiencing, or at risk of, domestic abuse. It is important to remember that support is available. Whilst people should stay at home wherever possible to avoid the spread of COVID-19, anyone experiencing domestic abuse is still able to leave and seek refuge.

This page provides an overview of support that is available to victims and survivors in Westminster during this difficult time.

In addition to the resources below, there is also Home Office guidance for those experiencing or at risk of domestic abuse, including numbers that people can contact.

Support from the police

All support from the police is continuing as normal and police stations remain open. If you are at risk, there are steps the police can take to remove an abuser from the home. In an emergency, always call 999 and ask for the police. If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55. This will transfer your call to the relevant police force who will assist you without you having to speak.

For non-emergency support, call 101. There are safeguarding teams and specialist investigators on duty 24 hours a day for advice and help.

Support from domestic abuse services

The Angelou Partnership

The Angelou Partnership is the support service for the boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith. It can provide support if you have been subjected to domestic abuse, sexual violence, stalking, forced marriage, so called honour-based violence, female genital mutilation and child exploitation. It provides specialist support to the Black, Minority and Ethnic and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities.

Angelou support is moving from face-to-face sessions to telephone and online based support. please contact the number below for support and details of service provision.

0808 801 0660 (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm and Wednesday, 6pm to 9pm)

Women’s Aid

Where telephone support is not safe, Women’s Aid have an online service to support you. This includes an instant messaging service (Monday to Friday, 10am to 12pm), email support (response within 5 days), a survivor’s handbook (to get help on housing, safety planning, dealing with police and more) and a community of survivor’s forum.

Hestia’s Bright Sky app

Bright Sky is a free to download mobile app providing support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship. The app displays as a weather app. It has a secure journal tool to record behaviour via text, audio, video or photo, without the content being stored on your device.

Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA)

Economic abuse can happen when an abuser restricts how their partner acquires, uses and maintains money and resources, such as accommodation, food, clothing and transport. SEA have put together a helpful resource which provides an overview of support available to anyone who is experiencing economic abuse. It also contains information on financial support that is available.

Additional local and national helplines

Last updated: 18 January 2021