COVID-19 has changed our lives, both at work and at home. While you work to support other people during this time, we know that you still have to deal with everyday challenges in your personal and home life. Here are some of the questions you might be asking:
Trying to get the things you need can feel stressful just now, particularly if you need to shop in supermarkets, where social distancing can be difficult. Some companies have arranged dedicated shopping times and are offering discounts on their products. The Scottish Association of Social Work has put together a list of help and support currently on offer for key workers from various organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to find the list. We’re also linking you here to an NHS England site that keeps an up-to-date list of confirmed dedicated opening times and staff offers across the UK, so please have a look to see what might be available to you.
Information on offers by businesses and community organisations across Scotland, and a system for accessing them at local level, is currently under consideration. Further information will be uploaded here in the next two weeks.
If you’re at higher risk of severe illness and you need help with food or medicine deliveries, you should contact your Council’s shielding support service. A new national helpline has been set up to provide essential assistance to people who don’t have family or existing community support and can’t get online, but who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19. You can contact 0800 111 4000 or go to these pages for further information.
There may also be organisations or community groups in your local area who can help, so try searching the Community Assistance Directory on the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) website for assistance with non-medical matters.
If you need to access a food bank because you have no money for food, the Trussel Trust website provides up-to-date information about local food banks, opening hours and how you can access them. The link to their website is here.
Most people will feel the financial impact of COVID-19 and some of us will need help to get through these difficult times. You may have had to reduce your hours for child care or other caring responsibilities, your partner may have been furloughed or lost their job, or there may have been some other change that has affected your household income. So if you’re worried about money and paying bills it’s important to get advice quickly before it affects your health and wellbeing.
There are lots of sources of money advice to help you sort out your finances and make sure that you’re getting everything you’re entitled to. If you’re self-isolating or sick, for example, you need to know that you’re entitled to statutory sick pay or sick pay in line with your usual sickness policy. If you’re caring for a dependant in your household who has developed COVID-19, you are also entitled to SSP, and if you’ve lost your job you should be eligible for unemployment benefit. There may also be top up benefits that you’re entitled to.
A range of extra supports and measures have been put in place to help people with all of this. You’ll find more information here. You may also be able to access to financial support services through your workplace.
At the Money Advice Service website you’ll find information on help with finances, your rights to sick pay, and changes to claiming benefits. For help with planning how you spend your money, and how you can make sure that you have enough to buy what you need and pay your bills, you can access their budget planner here.
Debt advice organisations can offer specific support and guidance on dealing with any debts you may be worrying about, so here are some links to organisations that may be able to help:
Debt Advice Foundation
Scotcash is a Scottish organisation which provides affordable credit without credit checks, using other ways to provide loans to people who might not get one from traditional financial organisations. It also provides financial support and guidance to help you make the most of your money. Applications can be made online or an appointment can be booked to talk to an adviser. Their website can be accessed here.
If you’re worrying about keeping up with your mortgage payments, you should be entitled to a 3-month ‘mortgage holiday’, so try contacting your mortgage lender to discuss this. If you’re a tenant, you may be able to get support through the Scottish Welfare Fund, and for information about eviction or rent arrears you can try Shelter Scotland’s housing advice page.
If you’re a member of a trade union, they may be able to offer welfare advice on support, so please contact them to find out what help is available. For support and guidance on how to maximise your income and make the most of your money, you’ll find help from Money Saving Expert Limited and from Pension Wise.
For help with any of these money worries, and for advice about benefits or employment rights, you can also contact Citizens Advice Scotland.
“We’re open and here for you if you need help with money worries”
This is a tough time for everyone with kids, so don’t worry if you’re wondering how you’re going to get through this. Just remember, if your child is feeling loved and secure right now, then that’s the most important thing of all. When it comes to childcare, decisions about access for key workers are made locally, in line with the guidance available here: www.gov.scot/keyworkerchildcare. If you’re a key worker who is eligible for childcare, please go easy on yourself, as it’s likely that you’ll end up feeling guilty whatever you decide to do. If you’re not a key worker and are struggling with childcare, we suggest you liaise with your regular childcare provider or school, or contact your local council directly for any further advice and support they may be able to provide. If this doesn’t produce a solution, you can email a dedicated team within the Scottish Government and they’ll try to help.
If you’re home schooling, try not to worry too much. No one’s expecting you to become a teacher, and your child’s school will do its best to provide as much support and advice as it can. Other parents will also help by sharing their top tips and strategies on social media. You’ll find advice and ideas online too, on sites like the Parent Club website.
For many of us, the biggest worry is that we’ll get the virus ourselves or pass it on to our loved ones. Living in the real world, we know that despite taking every possible precaution, there’s no guarantee that we’ll stay safe. So sometimes the best we can do is find a way to live alongside the anxiety and fear. Hopefully some of the resources on this website will help you do that.
In the meantime, try to stay as informed as you can be about COVID-19. The best place for reliable and up-to-date health-related information is the NHS Inform website: NHS Inform. Here you’ll find advice and guidance, including what to do if you or someone you live with has COVID-19 symptoms, how to reduce your chance of getting the virus, and how to help protect people who are most vulnerable or at risk. You’ll also find practical help, for example if you need a sick note due to COVID-19, you can download an isolation note directly from NHS Inform: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note
If you have to self-isolate you can find tips on how to cope here.
Advice is also available for people living with a specific health condition who are worried about how COVID-19 might affect their health. The Scottish Government has issued tailored guidance on the following conditions: ophthalmic conditions, cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, neurological conditions, rare diseases, respiratory conditions and rheumatic conditions. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tailored-advice-for-those-who-live-with-specific-medical-conditions/
“My top tip is have your videoconference on mute!”
It’s difficult enough working from home in the middle of a pandemic, but add kids in to the equation and it will sometimes feel impossible. So remember, lots of people are doing this for the first time and we’re all in it together. We won’t always be as productive as we usually are, but that’s totally fine. To help you keep up with the juggling have a look at this site, which includes tips that every parent can try out.
“Juggling home life work and working – it helps to have a structure”
Public health measures to control the spread of COVID-19, like staying at home, social isolation and reduced access to support, have created more opportunities for perpetrators of domestic abuse to offend and have increased the risk for women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse. Although men do experience domestic abuse, evidence suggests that in a significant majority of cases the perpetrator is male and the victim is female.
If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic abuse or other forms of violence and control at home, support and services are still available and operating.
Now more than ever, it’s important for you to know that you’re not alone and that you can contact support services in confidence. In particular, you need to be aware that the rules include ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving the home if there is a risk of harm.
Also, if it’s safe to do so, speak to a manager if it’s difficult to work or you need support; for example, if the abuser is preventing you from working or not sharing childcare to make working more difficult for you.
If you need to talk to someone in confidence, the following national helplines are there to help:
National Domestic Abuse Helpline Helpline: 0808 2000 247
Scottish Women’s Aid Helpline: 0800 027 1234
Men’s Advice Line Helpline: 0808 8010327
Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline: 08088 01 03 02 Text: 07537 410 027 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline Tel: 0800 027 1234 or email email@example.com
National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline Tel: 0800 999 5428 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amina Muslim Women’s Resource Centre Helpline: 0808 801 0301
Action on Elder Abuse Helpline Tel: 0808 808 8141
The Safer Scotland website has further information on helplines, and the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre holds an up-to-date list of all violence against women services available during the COVID-19 outbreak, including FGM; legal rights, immigration, victim support and housing. Their website can be found here.
If you’re worried about someone else’s safety, the Safe and Together team have produced How to be an ally to someone experiencing domestic violence.
Guidance produced by the Scottish Government can be found here.