Health and wellbeing support during coronavirus

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Coronavirus can affect our health, but it can also affect our mental health and wellbeing. You may feel low, anxious, 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 get further support if you need it.

Here you can find information, tips and simple steps you can take to look after your wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.

1. Staying healthy

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay alert in order to control the virus and save lives.

Social distancing: what you need to do

To stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with. When outside your home, it’s very important to stay either 2 metres (3 steps) away or 1 metre ‘plus’ – which is one metre plus mitigations - from anyone you do not live with. 

This is called social distancing.

Other things you can do to stop the spread of coronavirus

It's very important to do what you can to reduce the risk of you and other people getting ill with coronavirus.
You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.

  • stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) or 1 metre ‘plus’ away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble) when outside your home
  • wash your hands with soap and hot water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • if you can, wear something that covers your mouth and nose in places where it's hard to stay away from other people you do not normally come into contact with. Visit the GOV.UK advice on face coverings for more information
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

For more information about how to avoid getting and spreading coronavirus, visit staying safe outside your home on GOV.UK.

What to do if you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms

Do not leave your home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

Get a test if you have symptoms. If you have one or more symptoms of coronavirus, you must also book a test using the NHS ask for a test website or by calling 119. Testing is available for people of all ages.

If you test positive, you will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace who will help you identify who you have been in contact with and will gather their contact details. You must isolate for 10 days. People identified as having been in close contact with someone who has a positive test must stay at home for 14 days, even if they do not have symptoms.

Please visit the NHS advice on self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms.

Advice for people at high risk

​Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill, but there are some people who are at a higher risk.

Please see the NHS advice for people at higher risk from coronavirus for more information and advice on extra things you can do to avoid catching coronavirus.>

Advice in other languages

Coronavirus guides are available in other languages on GOV.UK. This covers government advice on shielding, staying at home, and for contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection who do not live with the person.

Looking after your health and wellbeing

To help yourself stay well while you're at home:

  • stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media
  • try to keep yourself busy – you could try activities like cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
  • do light exercise at home or outside
  • consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day if you're indoors most of the day – this is to keep your bones and muscles healthy

For more advice, see:

Stay up to date on the latest health advice by visiting NHS Coronavirus.

2. Staying active

Exercise apps

Staying active is vital to everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing.

If you are unable to get outside for exercise, there are loads of great ways you can get and stay active at home or out in your garden (if you have one).

 

3. Stay connected 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.

4. Ways to get healthier

Support to stop smoking

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health, and the health of your family at any time.

If you’re a smoker looking for ways to stay healthy, why not make an attempt to quit smoking? How you choose to stop smoking is up to you – One You Westminster is here to help you kick the habit for good either online or over the phone.

Alcohol and substance misuse

If you are worried about how much you are drinking, about your drug use or the drug and alcohol use of someone you know, free support continues to be available.

The Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing Service (DAWS) -  offers free advice, support and recovery services for residents affected by drug and alcohol misuse in Westminster.

The Alcohol Service provides free, confidential support for anyone affected by alcohol use in Westminster. Whether you are looking to stop drinking, cut down, or you’re concerned by the drinking behaviour of someone close to you, the Alcohol Service can support you.

5. Mental health support for adults

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 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

6. Mental health support for children and young people

We know that the uncertainty and significant changes taking place currently will have an impact on the emotional wellbeing and mental health of many children and young people.

It is critical that all children, young people and their families are aware of the available support and are able to access this over the coming weeks and months.

There is a wide range of support available that can be accessed online, by phone and by text. In addition, our usual face-to-face services are adapting their approaches so that they can continue to provide support remotely.

For more information visit gov.uk children's mental health guidance.

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. 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.

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 don’t have any food for today or tomorrow, call 0207 641 1222.

We have partnered with Unity Kitchen who have created packages of essential food items. We can deliver these to you the day after you call. The food package will comprise a range of staple products such as (subject to product availability) pasta, cereal, soup, baked beans, fruit and vegetables, and tea, milk and orange juice.  There is a small charge to cover the costs and you will receive a reference number and details about how to pay in your food package. Alternatively, if you are unable to pay, we can assist you in contacting North Paddington Food Bank or Westminster Food Bank. We ask that you pay as soon as possible so that we can continue to provide this service for other vulnerable residents.

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.

Last updated: 7 August 2020