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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 Tuesday 13 October 2020.

If you've been shielding

If shielding has paused in your area, the support you can get with shopping and prescriptions will change. National food box deliveries have stopped. But you can keep getting priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, if you’ve already signed up for them.

In England, anyone with MS can call the Royal Voluntary Service to get help from NHS volunteers with shopping and collecting prescriptions: 0808 196 3646. And if you’re worried about support, get in touch with your local council to see how they can help. Find your local council at gov.uk.

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

In Wales, the prescription delivery service continues until the end of September. To find more support, the Welsh government website has contact details of your local authority or voluntary organisation.

In Northern Ireland, you can contact the COVID-19 Community helpline to find support with getting food and medicines.

If you’re in an area with local restrictions, you can contact your local council for help with getting essential supplies and prescriptions. Find your local council on the UK government website.

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.

In England, anyone with MS can call the Royal Voluntary Service to get help from NHS volunteers with shopping and collecting prescriptions: 0808 196 3646

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 Northern Ireland, contact the COVID-19 Community Helpline for information and guidance from Advice NI.

In Wales you can get help from local voluntary organisations.

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.

If you go shopping, check the latest guidance on face coverings and social distancing in your area.

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.

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. 

The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has a list of companies who can deliver groceries, ready meals and recipe boxes. The list shows whether they take orders by phone, online, or both. Find a food delivery company with the DEFRA list

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 Tuesday 13 October 2020.

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