Coronavirus: Shielding and support

So far, Doncaster folk have played a huge role in helping to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. We’ve stayed at home, made huge sacrifices, all for the benefit of keeping ourselves, loved ones, friends, family and work colleagues safe.

Whilst national guidance has been relaxed for most, there is still a significant number of people that are shielding due to a number of existing medical conditions. For everyone, this guidance will change on 1 August 2020 as the national shielding guidance is paused.

So what do we mean by this?

Despite a number of areas across the country that have had restrictions tightened following localised outbreaks, the spread of the virus is now generally more under control. And as we know more about the virus, people that have an existing or new medical condition will be able to leave their home and do some of the things they used to be able to do before Coronavirus became known in our country.

The virus is still out there and we all need to be aware of this; it’s vital we do not get complacent. But if you have been shielding, you will be able to go out, meet others, go to work and more, following the latest guidance.

We know some people will be scared or a bit apprehensive and that’s completely normal. The following information includes some of the changes that will be live from 1 August 2020:

  • The Government asks you to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures; this means you may wish to go out to more places and see more people, but you should minimise contact with others outside your household or support bubble
  • From 1 August, you can go to work, if you cannot work from home, as long as the business or organisation you work for is Coronavirus safe
  • Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education setting if they are eligible and in line with people at their school; where possible, children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing
  • You will be able to go outside to buy food, visit places of worship and to take exercise, but you should maintain strict social distancing, such as wearing a mask, if you can, and keeping a 2 metre distance from others
  • You should remain cautious; you will still be at risk of severe illness if you catch Coronavirus, so the advice is to stay at home where possible and, if you do go out, follow strict social distancing.

The above changes to guidance will mean that some national services and support will also pause, such as the delivery of food parcels and medication deliveries put in place at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t mean that you are on your own – help and support is available.

Where can I get further information, advice or support?

If you can, it’s often easier to ask your family, friends, relatives and neighbours to ask them for any help you may need. If they are well and symptom free, calling them for a favour or a chat can really help.

In Doncaster, we’re really fortunate there’s more than 1,500 community and voluntary groups. Whilst many aren’t meeting in person for obvious reasons, they can help in more ways than you might think. They can help with connecting you to like-minded people, groups that share your interests and hobbies and even help you get back to a new sense of normal as you start to leave your house in a safe and secure way.

The national NHS Volunteer Responder service will continue to provide support to individuals that have been shielding. NHS Volunteer Responders will continue to operate over the coming months and while restrictions may be easing, the scheme will continue to help people who are at greater risk from coronavirus or who may be cautious about the virus and want to avoid crowded spaces. If you need help or advice, visit the NHS Responders website or call 0808 196 3646.

Locally, the Doncaster Community Hub will continue to operate but at a smaller scale; so if you have nowhere else to go for help, support or advice, please visit the Doncaster Community Hub website or call 01302 430300.

Supermarkets will continue to prioritise individuals that have been shielding for supermarket online delivery slots after 31 July 2020.

Finally, it is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low. You can go to Every Mind Matters for advice and tailored, practical steps that you can take to support your wellbeing, as well as accessing a range of local services. If you are still struggling to cope we would urge you to speak to your GP or contact the Doncaster Community Hub.

After the 1 August 2020, individuals that were shielding will still be kept on the shielded patient list. The Government will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spreads too much, individuals may be asked to shield again.

So please remember, whilst the national shielding programme is pausing, help, support and advice will always be available – stay alert, think about yourself and others and stick to the national guidance.

We’re all in this together, let’s do it for Doncaster.