Coronavirus advice for vulnerable residents

The council is making contact with vulnerable residents and tenants and is also working with partners to proactively support rough sleepers. Residents who have serious underlying health conditions have been strongly advised by the government to follow 'shielding' measures and the council has robust processes in place to support this highly vulnerable group. Find a map of local and community-led organisations that are able to provide support services during this time.

More on coronavirus: Westminster Connects, residentsbusinesses, updates. You can also sign up to our email newsletter for daily updates.

1. Ask for help

In the first instance if you need help or you know of anyone who needs help as a result of COVID-19, send the details to westminsterconnects@westminster.gov.uk or phone us on 020 7641 1222 (9am to 6pm, 7 days a week).

If you are concerned about an adult who you think requires social care and support, or you have a safeguarding concern, please phone 020 7641 1444 or 020 7641 1175 or email adultsocialcare@westminster.gov.uk

If you are concerned about a child and you have a safeguarding concern, please phone 0207 641 4000 or email AccesstoChildrensServices@westminster.gov.uk

Find a map of local and community-led organisations that are able to provide support services during this time.

2. Food delivery services

Supermarket deliveries

Many are now prioritising delivery services to older and vulnerable people, people with disabilities and carers. They are also offering a ‘first hour’ for these priority groups after opening. Please check with your local supermarket for exact times of opening and delivery.

Government's supermarket referral delivery scheme

Westminster City Council is taking part in a government-run scheme to support eligible vulnerable, non-shielding residents in accessing supermarket delivery slots during COVID-19.

The government has provided local authorities, including Westminster City Council, with access to supermarket delivery slots to allocate to eligible residents who are able to both order and pay for their own shopping online.  

The scheme is a partnership between the Department of Energy, Food and Rural Affairs with supermarkets Iceland and Tesco.

The number of delivery slots allocated is limited and so will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Please call the Westminster Connects team on 020 7641 1222 (9am to 6pm, 7 days a week).

Commercial food options

The government has produced a summary of commercial food options including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers.  This summary has been compiled by the Department for Energy, Food and Rural Affairs based on publicly available information. 

London Dairies

London Dairies offers next day home deliveries within London postcodes supplying your basic dairy needs and now offers this with their small fruit and vegetable box offer. Call 020 8440 0619 or email info@londondairies.co.uk

Urgent food 

If you have an urgent food requirement we can assist you in contacting North Paddington Food Bank or Westminster Food Bank.

Non urgent food

If you are self-isolating, in the first instance we request that you ask friends and family to help you with your essential shopping or use a supermarket delivery service. If you don’t have anyone to help you, Westminster Connects volunteers can assist you using our Volunteer Shopper Service.

Volunteer Shopper Service

Westminster Connects is offering a shopping service for residents who don’t have friends or family available to help them with their shopping. Our volunteers will contact you to get details of the essential items you need and your shopping budget then they will carry out the shopping on your behalf.

They will provide you with the shopping receipt, reference number and details of how to pay for this service. You will only be asked to pay for the shopping provided and not the service and delivery as this is carried out by volunteers.  We ask that you repay this as soon as possible so that we can continue to provide this service for other vulnerable residents.

Our shopper service is for essential food and household items only such as pasta, fruit, tinned goods, soap, shampoo, nappies, sanitary products.

We have partnered with supermarkets across Westminster and our volunteers are given priority access to these shops for a short period of time. We will try where possible to source the most reasonably priced food and essentials, but this may not always be possible.

Shielded residents

If you have received a letter from the NHS advising you to shield for 12 weeks and you have registered via gov.uk, then your essential food and household items will be provided by the NHS central government hub.

If you need to supplement this with extra food or household items, you can use the shopper service carried out by volunteers. These extra items are not free, and you will be charged for them.

If you are unable to pay for food and are not on the NHS shielded list

North Paddington Food Bank and Westminster Food Bank can help you with essential items and delivery.

If you need food urgently today, please call 0207 641 1222.

Staying safe

Westminster Connects volunteers will never ask you for cash, or for you to pay them directly for your shopping.

Westminster Connects pays for shopping on your behalf and then you reimburse the cost. We will leave instructions with you on how to pay when we deliver your shopping.

The volunteers we have assigned to deliver your shopping will be wearing a Westminster Connects vest. If you are worried that someone claiming to be a Westminster Connects volunteer may not be, call us 0207 641 1222 and we will let you know if a volunteer has been assigned to you.

3. Staying healthy

Visit our health and wellbeing section for advice on:

  • social distancing
  • stopping the spread of coronavirus
  • what to do if you or someone in your household has symptoms
  • people at high risk
  • looking after your health

4. Care homes

​Protecting everyone in Westminster is our utmost priority, particularly the most vulnerable. We are working closely with our social care teams to offer advice and support and ensuring care home staff and residents have access to testing. Contact care homes directly for local policies, such as visiting arrangements or contact your social care provider for further information.

Find government guidance for adult social care.

6. Mental health support

We know that for many people the current Coronavirus situation may result in feelings of anxiety, loneliness or depression.

It may be difficult, but by following the government’s guidance on social distancing and staying at alert, you are helping to protect yourself, your family, the NHS and your community.

It’s completely normal to perhaps feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You might also feel low, worried, anxious, or concerned about your health or that of those close to you. It’s important that you take care of your mind as well as your body and to get further support if you need it.

To help, GOV.UK guidance on mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus (COVID-19) is now available. This provides advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing at this time, including how to connect with and support others, manage your feelings and daily routine and where to find support.

If you need support with your mental health and wellbeing or someone to talk to, please call your GP or contact:​

  • Every Mind Matters: now more than ever, Every Mind Matters. Visit NHS Every Mind Matters to get your free online personal Mind Plan including simple tips and advice for you to look after your mental wellbeing during coronavirus
  • Good Thinking has NHS-approved mental health tools and advice to support you if you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or struggling with other mental health concerns.
  • Reach Out  offer talking therapies to adults who are experiencing anxiety or depression. The service is available to Westminster residents and people who are registered with a GP in the area
  • The Westminster Talking Therapies Service (IAPT) provides free, confidential talking therapies for people who may have concerns around coronavirus. The support is offered by qualified therapists and counsellors, and most consultations are provided by phone or video call
  • The NHS Single Point of Access Line - 0800 0234 650 – is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be called if you are in a crisis
  • You can call NHS 111 if you or someone you know needs urgent care, but it's not life threatening
  • The Samaritans – call 0330 094 5717 or freephone 116 123 – open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • The Listening Place – call 020 3906 7676 – open from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week 

Call 999 if you or someone you know experiences a life-threatening medical or mental health emergency.

Online sources to help maintain mental well-being

7. Befriending services

If you are an older person, these schemes allow you to stay in touch over the phone, either through regular one-to-one chats or as part of conversation groups.

  • Independent Age Telephone Befriending service for older people regularly connects you over the phone with someone who cares
  • The Silver Line Telephone Friend service for older people connects you with someone to have a weekly chat to in the comfort of your own home
  • The Silver Line Circles connects you to a group where people with shared interests can discuss topics that interest them
    Both services can be accessed on: 0800 4 70 80 90
  • The Help Hub is an online therapy service offering free 20-minute sessions aimed at people who are self-isolating or struggling, with therapists across the UK

8. Westminster Connects, payments for food

Westminster Connects volunteers are carrying out shopping on behalf of our residents who need help.

Before any shopping is undertaken, Westminster Connects staff will agree what you’d like to purchase and how much they should spend.

If a volunteer has carried out shopping on your behalf, you will have received an email or a receipt with ways to pay including your payment reference number.

We ask that you repay this at your early convenience – you can do so in the following ways:

Pay Online

Please use Quick Pay select emergency assistance from the drop down list and follow the instructions.

Pay by phone by calling 020 7641 2210 between the hours of 8am to 6pm quoting the reference number you have been given.

Further help

If you need further help during this period please don’t hesitate to email: westminsterconnects@westminster.gov.uk

You can also visit the ask for help section.

Our team can help you with shopping, getting medication and someone to talk to if you are isolated

9. Taxicard scheme

Taxicard is a scheme that helps London residents with serious mobility or sight impairments to get around. During the COVID-19 crisis, London Councils are varying the rules of the scheme, to allow members to use the subsidy to help them while staying at home. The changes will allow drivers to pick up and deliver essential supplies for members, or allow friends and family to travel on their behalf.

More information on getting or using a Taxicard are available on the London Councils website

10. Ways to stay connected, active and engaged

Keep in touch with friends and family

There are lots of apps that help you keep in touch with people, including WhatsApp from your phone, FaceTime from your iPhone or iPad, and Skype, Zoom, Houseparty and Google Hangouts which work on all devices.  

Digital or home library service

If you have a tablet, phone, eBook reader or computer, you do not need to go out to your local library to borrow a new book or magazine to read.

  • If you are a member of Westminster or Royal Borough of Kensington and libraries, you can borrow and download eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, eAudiobooks and eComics for free onto a dedicated app on your device. Learn more here.
  • If you want a physical book to read, you can contact the Home Library Service. Find out more here.

Online Zoos

Whilst you cannot visit any Zoos in person, you can now bring the Zoo to your screen. A number of zoos around the world are broadcasting live footage from their animal enclosures. Here’s a few:

  • Edinburgh Zoo (UK) - Panda, Koala, Penguin & Tiger Cams HERE
  • Marwell Zoo (UK) - Flamingo, Penguin, Giraffe & Lemur Cams HERE
  • Dublin Zoo (Ireland) - Elephants, Penguins, Giraffes, Rhinos, Ostrich & Zebras Cams HERE
  • San Diego Zoo (USA) - Panda, Penguin, Baboon, Polar Bear, Ape, Koala, Giraffe, Burrowing Owl, Condor, Elephant & Tiger Cam HERE
  • Houston Zoo (USA) - Giraffe, Gorilla, Chimp, Elephant, Leafcutter Ant & Rhino Cams HERE
  • Living Coast Wild Planet Trust (UK) - Penguin Cam HERE

Art, music, drama events online

  • The Philharmonic Berlin invite you to visit their virtual concert hall free of charge. You can listen to over 600 orchestral concerts from the Berliner Philharmoniker in the Digital Concert Hall.
  • The Met Opera in New York have decided to stream several operas (e.g Carmen, La Bohème, Eugene Onegin) for free. Each opera will start at 19:30 local time (23:30 GMT) but will be remain available for 20 hours (19:30 GMT) after the stream has ended and can be accessed via their homepage.
  • The Wind in the Willows the Musical is being made available to stream online for free as theatres are forced to close their doors. The film was recorded live at the London Palladium in 2017.
  • The March Network brings together a variety of home-based, creative ways to support mental health during these unique and uncertain times. They include links to arts and crafts, music and other activities online.

Language learning apps

Self-isolation may be a good time to learn a new skill or keep up with an already existing one. Learning languages can both enrich your mind and allow you to connect with others around the world.

There are a range of apps available on your mobile app store and many are also available for use on desktops and other devices. Go to your app store and type ‘languages’ in the search bar.

11. How the council is supporting care homes

Westminster City Council is committed to working in partnership with the borough’s care homes who have a vital role to play in protecting vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. This letter and implementation plan sets out at high level the support arrangements that are currently in place locally to support care homes to protect their staff and residents.

Care home infection control plan (PDF, 315KB)

Care home support – implementation status (PDF, 180KB)

Social care provider support - annex B in the letter from the Minister of Start for Care, 14 May 2020 (PDF, 85KB)

Last updated: 3 July 2020