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Getting help with shopping and prescriptions during and after lockdown

If you or the person you care for with MS are finding it hard to get food or prescriptions during COVID-19, there’s help available.

We reviewed this information page on Monday 19 July

Getting help while shielding

Even with COVID-19 restrictions easing, there might be support you can get with shopping and prescriptions.

If you’re in an area with local restrictions, you can contact your local council for help with getting essential supplies and prescriptions. 


You can't get priority access to supermarket delivery slots anymore - that scheme has ended. But you can still book as anyone else would for deliveries. 

And anyone with MS in England can call the NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).They can help with collecting shopping if you can't use the supermarket's own service, or to get medications and other essential supplies. 

If you’ve been advised to shield and you don’t have friends, family or a volunteer to help you collect prescriptions, you can call your pharmacy and ask about free medicines delivery. 

If you need other kinds of support, wherever you live, get in touch with your local council to see how they can help.


In Scotland, you can call the government helpline on 0800 111 4000 to arrange essential food and medicine deliveries.


In Wales, priority supermarket slots for home delivery are still available. You can register for these through the supermarket websites.

The National Volunteer Prescription Delivery Scheme ended on 30 September 2020. Instead, you could ask someone to collect your prescription for you. Or if that’s not possible, telephone your chemist and tell them you’re in a high risk group and ask them about free home delivery. 

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, you can contact the COVID-19 Community Helpline on 0808 802 0020 to find support with getting food and medicines.

Whether or not you've been shielding

Across the UK, the COVID-19 Mutual Aid website has a list of local groups that might be able to offer practical help with shopping or friendship.

You can also find out what your local council can do to support you through the UK government website.


In England, anyone with MS can call NHS Voluntary Responders on 0808 196 3646 to get help with shopping and collecting prescriptions.


In Scotland, you can use the Viral Kindness website to find help in your local community including with food shopping and deliveries. Or call the Scottish National Assistance Helpline if you find it hard to get online: 0800 111 4000


In Wales you can get help from local voluntary organisations. And the Welsh government has more information about shoppoing options.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, contact the COVID-19 Community Helpline on 0808 802 0020 for information and guidance from Advice NI.

Going shopping and getting deliveries

Some major supermarkets have priority shopping hours in stores for vulnerable people. Everyone with MS is included on the list of ‘clinically vulnerable', so should be able to use these hours.

Lots of the major supermarkets offer online delivery. And if you can pick up your shopping but don’t want to go round the store, some also have ‘click and collect’ for online orders. 

If you go shopping, check the latest guidance on face coverings and social distancing in your area. And if you're clincially extremely vulnerable, there may be extra guidance.  

Get a Give Me Space lanyard or card

If you’re worried about people not social distancing in supermarkets, you might wish to carry a card, lanyard or badge that encourages others to keep their distance. You can buy these from the Please Give Me Space website, or download for free to print off or show on your phone. 

On the same website you can also find the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. This is recognised by many major supermarkets across the UK. It shows people around you that you may need additional support, help or a little more time.  

There’s also the Distance Aware symbol which is being used in England and Wales. You can print it at home or buy it as a lanyard or badge. Find out more on the Bevan Commission website.

Remember you're not alone

We're here for you. If you’re worried about your MS and coronavirus and want to chat to someone, call our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000. We’re here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays.

If you'd like to talk your worries through online with other people who know MS, visit our Online Community Forum today.

You can join one of our Time to Chat or Virtual Wellbeing sessions and connect online with other people living with MS across the UK. Or you could sign up for an information webinar. We've got plenty to choose from, take a look at our online sessions and see what suits you.

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