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Fruit and vegetables

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 last updated this page on Thursday 5 November

Getting help while shielding

Maybe the part of the UK you live in is under lockdown. Or perhaps where you live is using a system of COVID-19 alert levels instead. Either way there is 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. 

England

In England, if you are extremely clinically vulnerable (were previously advised to shield) you can get help during the lockdown that started on 5 November by registering on the UK government website. This will also apply if, after lockdown, where you live is put at the 'very high' COVID alert level (tier 3). You'll need your NHS number with you when you register. If you had priority deliveries during the first look down, you will keep them.

Anyone with MS in England can call the NHS Volunteer Responders on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).

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

Scotland

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

Wales

In Wales, the National Volunteer Prescription Delivery Scheme ended on 30 September 2020. Instead ask someone to collect your prescription for you. 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 on the UK government website.

England

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

Scotland

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

Wales

In Wales you can get help from local voluntary organisations.

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.

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.

We last updated this page on Thursday 5 November

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