Getting help with shopping and prescriptions during COVID-19
If you or the person you care for with MS are finding it hard to get food or prescriptions since the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s help available.
We last reviewed this page on Wednesday 6 April 2022
How can I get help with shopping or prescriptions?
If you can't get out for shopping and prescriptions you might find it easier to get things delivered, or arrange for some support. Friends and family, volunteer groups, governments and businesses might all be able to help.
Your local council
Wherever you are in the UK, if you need help with essential supplies, find out how your local council can help.
If you can't get out and don’t have friends, family or a volunteer to help you collect prescriptions, you can call your pharmacy and ask about free medicines delivery. Some pharmacy chains also have information about this on their websites.
Lots of supermarkets offer online deliveries. 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.
Several of the big supermarkets have priority delivery slots for vulnerable and self-isolating customers. You'll find details of those on the supermarkets' own websites.
National support schemes
There are some national schemes to help with essential supplies and prescriptions.
In England the NHS Volunteer Responders can help if you can't use the supermarket's own service, or to get medications and other essential supplies. You can call them on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).
In Scotland the government helpline on 0800 111 4000 can arrange essential food and medicine deliveries or you can find support on the Ready Scotland website
In Northern Ireland AdviceNI has food shopping information
In Wales you can get help from local voluntary organisations. And the Welsh government has information about shopping options
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.
If you go shopping, check the latest guidance on face coverings and social distancing in your area. And if you're considered "highest risk" or "clincially extremely vulnerable", there may be extra guidance.
If you’re worried about people not social distancing in supermarkets, you might want 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 lots of UK supermarkets. It shows people around you that you might need additional support or a little more time.
Our free I have MS card also fits on a lanyard - or in your purse or wallet - and might be useful if you need to explain you have MS.
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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