Coronavirus information

Coronavirus (Covid-19) useful information

All information here can be translated through Google Translate. You can find this feature at the bottom of each page of this site.

Coronavirus latest

Current guidance

What to do if you are unwell

Masks and gloves (PPE)

Information in alternative formats

Where to get help

Where to get urgent food and medicine

Where to get Council service information

Where to access medical help

Utility Services

Where to get financial and welfare advice

Loneliness

Domestic abuse

Mental health and wellbeing

Support for families

Support for carers

Giving support back to your community

Staying well

Healthy eating

Exercise

Learn something new

Limiting alcohol intake

Quitting smoking

Staying safe

Safeguarding

Avoiding scams

Shopping and food deliveries

Noise and nuisance

Advice for pet owners

Current guidance

Stay alert, protect the NHS, save lives.

Everyone must stay at home as much as possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus. 

The current guidance is:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Further details on what you can and can't do.

What to do if you are unwell

Do not leave your home if you have coronavirus symptoms:

  • a high temperature - this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.

Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. 

Babies and children

Call 111 for advice if you're worried about a baby or child.

If they seem very unwell, are getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call 999.

Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.

Self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms

Do not leave your home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does. This is called self-isolation. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll need to self-isolate for 7 days.

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.

If you get symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days.

If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.

If you are self-isolating, you must:

  • not leave your home for any reason - if you need food or medicine, order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
  • You can use your garden, if you have one. Any exercise should be taken at home.

After 7 days:

  • if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to self-isolate
  • if you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal

You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

To help yourself stay well while you're at home:

  • rest and sleep
  • drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration - drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
  • take paracetamol to lower your temperature

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse

Masks and gloves (PPE)

Please don't discard used gloves and masks as litter. Throw used PPE away in a general waste bin or litter bin, if you're out. 

Please do not buy medical grade masks or respirators. These are prioritised for healthcare workers working in more high-risk environments.

Guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering

Information in alternative formats

Easy read

Mencap has produced a series of easy read guides for coronavirus. 

Learning Disability England have put together important information about Coronavirus and have posters, Easy Read guides and key links.  

Alternative languages

The Government has released translated guidance for self-isolation; social distancing as well as shielding vulnerable people into the following languages: Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Gujarati, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Urdu and Welsh. 

Accessible information

If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, you can call 18001 111 on a textphone or access the NHS 111 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service through www.nhs.uk/111 

British Sign Language

Visit our BSL support page

You can contact the information officer at Reading Deaf Centre on 0118 9594969 Mobile/SMS 07754 361592 or by email info@readingdeafcentre.co.uk 

Sign Health has produced videos with information about coronavirus in British Sign Language.

Sight advice

RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) have put together key information for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Information for autistic people and families

The National Autistic Society have created an online resource hub which contains information for autistic people and their families.

Get the latest information on WhatsApp

WhatsApp have a Corona advice page, letting you know how you can get reliable information. 

To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word 'hi' in a WhatsApp message to get started.

Where to get help

How to get urgent food and medicine

If you need extra help during the Coronavirus outbreak, don't be afraid to ask a friend or neighbour. Alternatively, ask a support organisation you already know. Although public buildings are closed, the organisations you would usually contact for help are running services, including the Council, Brighter Futures for Children, the Citizens Advice Bureau and local charities. 

You can also get food and medicine delivered and left outside your door - if friends and family are unable to help, register at GOV.UK or contact the One Reading Community Hub.

Pakistani Community Centre is also offering help with groceries, errands and language support (or call 0118 926 9031).

One Reading Community Hub

The One Reading Community Hub has been created for Reading Borough Council residents needing additional support during the outbreak. Through this service, you can arrange for an urgent delivery of food or medicine, connect with befriending services, or contact other sources of support.

How to give back to the community

Our communities are strong and resilient and there are simple things you can do to help them continue to thrive. Firstly, do check in on any vulnerable family, friends and neighbours. Sometimes just helping with shopping or checking they have everything they need can make a big difference. If you're providing help to people who are self-isolating, make sure you follow government advice to leave deliveries of groceries, medications or other shopping at the door. 

If you'd like to volunteer further to help your community, visit Reading Voluntary Action's website, call 0118 937 2273 or email info@rva.org.uk.

Local charities with Covid-19 appeals

Readifood, Reading's food bank is seeking donations of food and other items.
Berkshire Community Foundation is raising money to be split between local charities in Berkshire
Berkshire Women's Aid, which supports women and their children affected by domestic abuse 

Where to get local service information

Although our offices are currently closed, many council services are available online 24 hours on this website. You can see our latest service updates here

Our customer services team is available from 8.30am to 5pm (Monday to Friday) via 0118 937 3787 (out-of-hours emergencies: 0118 937 3737)

You can also check the council's social media for regular updates: 
www.facebook.com/readingcouncil
www.twitter.com/readingcouncil

Where to access medical help

  • If you have coronavirus symptoms, to protect others do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
  • Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do
  • Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Non-coronavirus medical support

Prescriptions

Reading Walk-in Centre

Medical advice for children

Health visits

Dental treatment

How do I access non-coronavirus medical support?

Patients who have a medical problem that is not related to coronavirus can ring their surgery as normal. Please do not attend the surgery in person. All GP appointments will initially be on the telephone with the GP doing all they can to help over the phone. If you feel you need a face-to-face examination then an appointment can be arranged.

Prescriptions can be sent straight to a pharmacy of your choice. This limits the number of people visiting the GP practices. You can request repeat prescriptions by using the NHS App which means that you do not have to phone or visit the surgery.

If you are seriously unwell Royal Berkshire Hospital's Emergency Department is still a safe option for medical care, despite the coronavirus outbreak. If you have symptoms relating to a serious medical issue, such as strokes, heart attacks or breathing problems, please do not avoid visiting A&E and seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

Can I get my prescription collected?

Healthwatch Reading have launched a Reading Prescription Delivery Scheme to ensure medicines can be delivered to isolated and vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis. Your GP, local pharmacy or the One Reading Community Hub can refer you to Healthwatch for support.

Reading Walk-in Centre

A special medical hub has been set up for local people who are showing symptoms of Coronavirus but don't need immediate hospital treatment. The hub is based at the Walk-in Centre in Reading's Broad Street Mall.
This service will only be available to patients who have already gone through a medical assessment. Anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms of a constant cough and/or high temperature will still initially be asked to self-isolate for seven days and seek advice from NHS 111 online if required. Patients will then be referred on to their GP practice and/or the hub where appropriate. Find out more about primary care hubs

GP services for registered patients at the Walk-in Centre have been temporarily moved to: Milman Road Health Centre, Reading, RG2 0AR. The phone number to contact remains the same: 0118 902 8300.

Medical advice for children

If your child has a medical condition or injury, they should access treatment and attend medical appointments as recommended by their hospital, GP or healthcare professionals. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPSH) has put together this handy traffic light guide to help you know what to do when your child is unwell or injured.

Children's vaccinations

It is important we all continue with childhood immunisation programmes, to avoid outbreaks of serious vaccine-preventable diseases that could increase the numbers of patients requiring health services. Providing your baby and you as a parent or carer are well and not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or other infections, routine immunisations for babies are still being given - please contact your GP to discuss this.

Due to the current closure of schools, the school-aged immunisation programme (ages 4-16) not delivered through GPs is suspended. If your child has missed a planned immunisation session or clinic appointment the Children, Young People and Families services team will reschedule this as soon as they can. 

Health visits

Wherever possible, the work of the Health Visiting Team for children and families will continue although, in some cases, not in the way you may be used to.

The Health Visiting service will be reduced to new birth and 6-8 week checks, and these will mostly be undertaken as non face-to-face appointments:

  • an online video consultation (similar to a Skype or What's App call)
  • a telephone consultation
  • professional advice on how to manage your own care.

For general queries such as infant feeding support, weaning, behaviour, toilet training and sleeping, you can still use the health visitor duty line: 0118 9312111 option 1 or email: Hvdutywestberks&reading@berkshire.nhs.uk

Additional information is available online including the option of a new evening health visitor phone service running 4.30-8pm Monday to Friday on 07771344503

Dental treatment during coronavirus

During the Covid-19 pandemic all routine NHS and private dentistry has stopped. Patients who have scheduled appointments in the coming weeks are being contacted by their dental practice. 

The NHS is continuing to provide urgent and emergency dental care. This will be available to both NHS and private patients. If patients have a dental emergency they should call their dental practice during opening hours for further advice. If they do not have a regular NHS dentist they can search for a local dentist on the NHS website and call them. In the evening and at weekends patients can contact NHS 111 who will provide advice and direct patients to an out-of-hours service if necessary.

Utility Services

Thames Water Priority Service

If the water supply gets interrupted, Thames Water will try to deliver bottled water to people with water-dependent medical conditions (such as at-home dialysis) and to those with mobility issues as a priority. If you have a pre-existing health condition, or communication needs, please tell Thames Water by registering on their priority list

Energy

If you experience a power cut:

  • Telephone: 105 (a free phone number)
  • Visit www.powercut105.com 
  • If there's a serious immediate emergency risk, call the emergency services too.

Contact the Citizens Advice Helpline if you need additional help with an energy problem - for example with your bills or meters. Go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk/energy or call them free on 0808 223 1133. 

Priority register

If you or someone you know is vulnerable, of pensionable age or has a disability or long-term medical condition it's important to let your energy supplier know, so that you get the support you need, especially if you are dependent on your supply for medical reasons. Further information about priority users here

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has extended its priority register to include customers at increased risk of severe illness during the coronavirus pandemic. Register online or call 0800 294 3259. If you use a text phone, you can register by calling 0800 316 5457.

Financial and welfare advice

Financial difficulties

Council tax

Paying for energy

Loan and credit card payments

Being paid while off work

Claiming benefits

If you lose your job

Furloughed workers

Housing and homelessness

Welfare advice organisations

Business support

We have closed most of our public buildings but will continue to run essential frontline services. Our priorities at this time are to:

  • ensure continuity of care
  • support vulnerable people
  • support the local economy

If you need to contact us please do it online in the first instance, or by phone on 0118 937 3787 if it is an urgent welfare issue. We appreciate your patience as we deal with enquiries at this busy time. We will prioritise those in most urgent need of our help, and we will respond to everyone as soon as is possible.

Financial difficulties

Council officers are available by phone to provide advice and assistance if you are in financial difficulty. We can help ensure you receive the income and/or welfare benefits you are entitled to. You can contact us on 0118 937 2197 or email debt.advice@reading.gov.uk. Find out more at: www.reading.gov.uk/debtadvice 

The government has suspended new evictions from social or private rented accommodation until the current national emergency ends. If you owe rent you are expected to work together with your landlord to make an affordable repayment plan, and to take immediate action to reduce the level of any rent arrears by claiming benefits you are entitled to. If you are struggling to pay your rent, let your landlord know as soon as you can and seek advice.

Council tax

If you are concerned about paying your council tax you can find out more about the help available here: www.reading.gov.uk/counciltaxhelp

Paying for energy

If you have a pre-payment meter and are unable to add credit due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus, contact your energy provider and discuss what you can do to keep your energy supply. Options include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to your credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top-up card.

If you do not have a pre-payment meter and are in financial difficulty, you should still contact your supplier for help. They may be able to reassess, reduce or pause your bill and/or debt repayments.

Loan and credit card payments

If you are experiencing financial difficulties due to the impacts of coronavirus, contact your bank or lender and explain. Most banks offer a three month 'payment holiday', while some will also not charge you for missed payments or accept reduced payments.

Most lenders will not charge you for missed payments, and some will allow you to increase your credit limit or give you a 'payment holiday'. Be careful when extending your credit limit.

Being paid while off work

The government has issued guidance for households with possible coronavirus to stay at home and self-isolate. Contact your employer as soon as you know you are unable to attend work and discuss arrangements for your pay. Check with your manager if your company has a sick pay scheme; details will be in your employment contract.

If you cannot get company sick pay, check if you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. This is when your employer pays you £94.25 per week while you are unable to work for up to 28 weeks. You are eligible to receive it from the first day you are unable to work (from 13 March 2020). Visit www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay for more information.

If your employer asks you not to work and you are not self-isolating, you should receive your full pay.

If you are self-employed you are not eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay. If you cannot work as you are following government guidance on coronavirus you may need to claim benefits to increase your income.

Claiming benefits

If your income is disrupted, you need to claim all the benefits you are entitled to straight away.

The situation regarding benefit entitlement in relation to the coronavirus is changing day by day. The best way to find out the benefits you might be entitled to is to use an online calculator. Reading Borough Council has a benefit calculator you can use.

If you are already claiming benefits you will need to notify the DWP of your reduction in income so it can be reassessed.    

How to apply for benefit

The local Job Centre is closed for face-to-face support. If you are already receiving benefit payments these will be paid automatically - use your online journal to contact the Job Centre and log queries.

To apply for any benefits please go online: www.gov.uk/benefits   

If you make a claim online, your local Job Centre will contact you. 

  • General advice line for all benefits 0344 4111 444 
  • Universal Credit helpline for claims 0800 144 8444 
  • Text phone for vulnerable adults 0800 328 1344. NGT text relay 

If you cannot hear or speak on the phone: 18001 then 0800 328 5644 

To get more information generally please visit: www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus 

If you lose your job

The coronavirus is having an effect on jobs, with some employers asking employees to take unpaid leave and others having to lay off a number of their employees.

If this happens to you, it is important that you get all the advice available to you so you can make informed decisions and apply for benefits quickly. 

Furloughed workers

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they're unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being 'on furlough'. You could get paid 80% of your wages. Find out more about being furloughed

Housing and homelessness

If you have nowhere safe to sleep tonight, contact the Homeless Prevention Service on 0118 937 2165 Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. This is a voicemail facility. Leave a message clearly giving your name and a contact number. The voicemail is checked every half an hour by the team and you should receive a call back within one hour of leaving a message.

For evenings, weekends or Bank Holidays, contact the Emergency Duty Team on 01344 786543.

For less urgent queries you can contact the Homeless Prevention Team via email. This will only be checked on Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm: housing.advice@reading.gov.uk 

If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough please refer them to Reading's Street Outreach Service: www.streetlink.org.uk 

Welfare advice organisations

For general queries and advice, you can contact Citizens Advice and ACAS.

Reading Community Welfare Rights provides support to vulnerable members of the community in Reading who are facing hardship. It is still working remotely and supporting existing clients. New clients looking for benefits advice can also get in touch: email advisor@readingspecialist.co.uk, call 0118 955 1070 and visit: https://readingspecialist.co.uk/

Communicare offers advice and guidance on a range of topics including debt, benefits, housing and form filling: phone 0118 9263941 or email: office@communicare.org.uk 

Business support

If you are a business owner and need help, call the government's business support helpline on 0300 456 3565 or visit the government's dedicated business support website.

For local business advice, including financial help for businesses and charities, the self-employed and individuals, as well as licensing, regulation and related guidance, visit: www.reading.gov.uk/c19business 

HMRC have changed their helpline number to ensure those needing help and support can reach their advisers during this time of high demand. Call: 0800 024 1222, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm.

Staying well

Mental health and wellbeing

Loneliness

Healthy eating

Exercise

Limiting alcohol

Quitting smoking

Learn something new

Support for families

Support for carers

Mental health and wellbeing

We know that staying at home for a prolonged period of time can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people. During this challenging time, it's important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
It's also important to remember it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass.

Every Mind Matters is an NHS service that provides simple tips and advice to help you take good care of your mental health. The website also has special sections for coping with isolation

Top tips for staying well:

  • Try to stay virtually connected with friends, family and neighbours - pick up the phone or have a conversation online through conference or social media apps.
  • Keep active - look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website.
  • Eat well - try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.
  • Activate your brain - do things you enjoy such as reading, cooking, learning a new craft, or mindfulness exercises.
  • Structure your day and make plans for what you can control. Keep to your normal routine as much as possible - set your alarm, eat at regular meal times and go to bed as usual.
  • Reach out for help if you are struggling.
  • Have a back-up plan in case somebody you normally rely on or look after needs to self-isolate.
  • Should you need someone to talk to you can contact the One Reading Community Hub on 0808 189 4325. They can help you access emotional as well as practical support.
  • Although it's good to feel you're in touch with the world, limit how much time you spend listening to the news and stick to reliable sources. There is a lot of misinformation circulating about coronavirus. You can check facts here: https://fullfact.org  

Physical symptoms of stress and anxiety

The physical symptoms of stress and anxiety can be more distressing during isolation. It is quite common to experience short-lived physical symptoms when your mood is low or anxious. Symptoms can include:

  • faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat
  • feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  • headaches
  • chest pains or loss of appetite

It can be difficult to know what is causing these symptoms, and the best way to manage them. Many people find that trying to concentrate on something else can be helpful. There are good quality tips and advice online from the NHS.  

Local Mental Health Support

Compass Recovery College offers a range of courses that aim to promote good mental health and improve personal wellbeing. You don't need a diagnosis or a referral and you can still sign up as a new student during this time. A member of the team will call back to chat about your personal situation and goals, and how Compass can help. Call 07739 823140 or email compass.opportunities@reading.gov.uk 

Berkshire West Your Way offers individually tailored one-to-one and peer support to help people deal with the personal and practical impacts of mental health issues. Call 0118 9660240 or email berkshirewest-yourway@together-uk.org 

Talking Therapies is a NHS service that offers support if you're coping with challenges such as depression, stress, anxiety or phobias. Call 0300 365 2000 or email talkingtherapies@berkshire.nhs.uk 

Depression Xpression is a depression and anxiety peer support group. Email depressionxpression@gmail.com or phone 07852 732194.

No5 provides free, confidential counselling and support to children and young people aged 11-25. Call 0118 901 5668 or email info@no5.org.uk   

Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) works with young people who are experiencing significant, severe and complex difficulties with their mental health. If you have urgent/significant concerns about your child's mental health call 0300 365 1234 (8am to 8pm, Mon-Fri excluding Bank Holidays). Outside of these hours, please contact the Crisis Team on 0300 365 9999. 

Loneliness

Although sticking to the advice is essential in the current crisis, staying at home with limited human contact can have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing - and in particular - feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can affect people of all ages, particularly if they are quarantined at home.

MIND has lots of advice on mental wellbeing, and hosts an online support community. It also has details of local groups offering people alternative ways of staying in touch while people can't meet in person.

Engage Befriending is a local charity which links people who are isolated with a befriending volunteer. Normally, they support older people, but they recognise that some younger people may need help to combat loneliness at this time. Call 01189 567 000 and press option 2.

The Campaign to End Loneliness has tips on keeping in touch, particularly for older people.

Age UK has a free confidential advice line on 0800 678 1602. For local support visit www.ageuk.org.uk/berkshire or call 0118 959 4242, and www.ageuk.org.uk/reading or call 0118 950 2480

The Samaritans provide confidential listening support to help anyone work through what's on their mind if they are feeling low. Call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org at any time of the day or night. 

Sunrise Senior Living have produced a simple guide to using Skype so you can stay in touch with others.

Healthy eating

The Eatwell Guide from the NHS has useful information on achieving a healthy balanced diet. The website includes lots of recipes and food tips.  

Change4Life, the government service aimed at helping families be healthier and happier, has lots of quick and easy family meals and meal planning ideas. 

Exercise

Staying active is more important than ever, both for your physical and mental health, but it can be hard to do as much as you would like. If you're fit and well, and showing no symptoms of coronavirus, you can go outside for one form of exercise a day, such as a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of your household. You must follow social distancing guidelines to help protect yourselves and those most at risk - so stay at least 2m (6ft) away from others.

How do I stay active in and around the home?

To stay fit and healthy, it is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or around 20 to 30 minutes a day. Plus, you should aim to do strengthening and balance exercises at least 2 days a week. There are still plenty of ways you can build movement and exercise into your day when you are at home.

You may not be able to go your favourite classes, but the Reading Sport and Leisure team have lots of videos online, including classes with their own coaches. There are activities for everyone, including people with long-term conditions, and it's all free to access: www.readingleisure.co.uk/exercise-classes 

Get Berkshire Active has created an Active at Home website with a range of activities to suit all ages and abilities.

One You from the NHS has a good selection of home workout videos. 

Sport England's Stay in work out portal has a great selection of online fitness options.

Workouts for kids
For people with a disability

We Are Undefeatable has covid-19 advice specifically for people living with long-term health conditions, as well as advice about getting active at home. 

Activity Alliance has advice and links to help adults and children with a disability keep active. 

For older adults

If you are older, you might not be able to do your usual physical activities. It is important to try to stay active in and around your home.

Move it or Lose It is a series of fitness videos for older adults

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has a 'love activity, hate exercise' campaign. It has practical tips for getting started, useful condition-specific insights and inspiring stories. 

The NHS has a seated exercise routine for older people and those with limited mobility.

Limiting alcohol

In times of stress we can find ourselves drinking more often or more heavily. Isolation is disrupting everyone's routine and you might be thinking about how to watch your alcohol intake.

The NHS One You website has a handy guide to drinking less.

Drinkaware has easy guides on how much alcohol is safe and tips on how to cut down while you're in isolation.

Further support for problem drinking and addiction

If you would like to talk to someone about your or a loved one's drinking, support is available. A number of organisations have set up support online or by phone.

Alcohol change has some great resources to support.

Al-Anon Family Groups has further support, and you call their helpline on 0800 0086 811.

Drinklineis a free, confidential helpline for people who are concerned about their drinking, or someone else's. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am-8pm, weekends 11am-4pm).

Change Grow Live, Reading's drug and alcohol service, has support if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.

Breaking Free Online also offers virtual/online 24/7 recovery support.

SOURCE, Reading's Young Person's drug and alcohol service, has support for young people struggling with addiction. Call 01189 373641 or email source@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

Quitting smoking

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you'll ever do for your health, now more than ever. Smoking and breathing in second-hand smoke can make the impact of the coronavirus worse.

It is still vitally important for smokers to quit because smoking harms the immune system. Smokers are therefore less protected against infections like coronavirus and therefore at greater risk of:

  • getting acute respiratory infections
  • infections lasting longer or being more serious than for someone who does not smoke

Although quitting is never easy, help is at hand. You'll have more chance of quitting if you enlist the help of an expert.

Smokefreelife Berkshire is a local free personalised service offering advice for people wanting to quit smoking. Although face-to-face clinics are closed, there is still a huge amount of free virtual support available to you from your home. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is available through the post and the service is VAPE friendly. Call 0118 449 2026, text QUIT to 66777 or use the Quit with Bella app.

One You: Quit Smoking Support from the NHS has daily support emails, personal quit plans and options to beat the cravings. You can also download the Smoke Free app to track your progress, see how much you're saving and get daily support wherever you are.

Learn something new

We are all spending more time indoors at the moment. There are so many online resources available to us, so it can be a great time to learn something new.

Reading Museum has lots of interesting online local history and collections that you can explore from home.

You can also download learning and fun resources for children

Reading Libraries offers a wide range of e-magazines, e-books and e-audio. The e-magazine service has the latest issues of the top 140 magazines in the UK. There is also a huge range of online learning resources at www.reading.gov.uk/online-learning. The library is also posting quizzes, local history pictures and children's storybook readings on its social media channels.

New Directions, Reading's Adult Learning College, has free online resources and courses for students. Students can register at Learn my Way using the New Directions ID code 4972: www.learnmyway.com/subjects and makeitclick.learnmyway.com/directory

The National Careers Service provides free, professional and impartial advice on getting a new job, changing careers, training or education. It is accessible to anyone aged 13+ and living in England. To access the service, call 0800 100 900 or visit the website.

The Berkshire Record Office holds the archives of the Royal County of Berkshire for those with an interest in local history. They look after nearly 900 years of the County's history.

Support for families 

Reading's Family Information Services provides free impartial information and guidance about a wide range of services for children, young people and their families.

Brighter Futures for Children provide local support for parents and children, including information on schools.

NSPCC has tips and advice, whether you're working from home with your kids for the first time or supporting children with anxiety due to coronavirus.

Berkshire West Safeguarding Children Partnership, a group of leading local health and social care organisations, has produced a new guide offering support to families struggling during the covid 19 lockdown. It signposts people to a range of information and groups across Berkshire who are experts in dealing with mental health, anxiety, stress, self-care, wellbeing and sleep issues.

Support for carers

Many carers juggle caring with paid work and other family responsibilities. Coronavirus may mean previous arrangements are now unmanageable.

Carers may find themselves under increased mental and physical pressure during the lockdown. Some may take on additional responsibilities for loved ones to avoid care agencies visiting. There may be people who would not ordinarily care for vulnerable loved ones who have now taken on carer responsibilities, for example when a regular carer becomes ill or is required to self-isolate.

Following social distancing guidelines can be more complicated for carers. Carers providing essential care are still allowed to visit those they care for, even if that person is in the shielded category. Where possible, carers should try to maintain their distance, and definitely stay away if they have COVID-19 symptoms or underlying vulnerabilities.

Looking after yourself

Caring can be demanding, physically and mentally. This can have a huge impact on your own health and wellbeing, even more so during lockdown. It's important to take time for yourself. It's also important to understand what advice and support may be available for you and those you care for - including to cover the possibility of you becoming ill or needing to self-isolate, and so that you can continue to care safely and without putting your own health and emotional wellbeing at risk.

Reading and West Berkshire Carers Hub offers a range of support for carers, to help you look after yourself as well as the loved one you care for. Call 0118 324 7333, visit their Facebook group or email ask@berkshirecarershub.org  

Carers UK has lots of advice for carers available, including help on understanding how to work with the Council, care agencies, local voluntary groups and your employer to manage caring at this time.

Young Carers

If you are a young carer or know a young carer who needs support, call 0118 937 6545 or visit www.reading.gov.uk/young-carers

Staying safe

Safeguarding

Domestic abuse

Scams

Shopping and food deliveries

Noise and nuisance

Information for pet owners

Safeguarding

Supporting vulnerable adults and children is a key priority for the Council during the Covid-19 crisis. Safeguarding remains an ongoing priority.

Safeguarding is everyone's business. Safeguarding means looking out for and trying to protect others in our community who are vulnerable or may be at risk of harm. If someone is at risk, an alarm needs to be raised. Everyone can make a difference.

Please report safeguarding concerns to the Council's safeguarding team on 0118 937 3747 (01344 786 543 outside of office hours) or email safeguarding.adults@reading.gov.uk 

Safeguarding people with reduced mental capacity

Living with conditions such as dementia, stroke or brain injury at any time brings everyday challenges for the person and those around them. For these people, coronavirus is making daily life much harder. Similarly, people with learning disabilities, autism or with mental health issues may also struggle to understand the situation and to follow the necessary guidelines to protect themselves and others. Individuals may feel anxious, scared or lonely. But they are not alone - help is available.

If you have concerns about a relative, friend or neighbour placing themselves and others at risk due to limited mental capacity, please contact us for support and advice. If the situation is urgent please call the Council's safeguarding team on 0118 937 3747 (01344 786 543 outside of office hours) or email safeguarding.adults@reading.gov.uk 

The following organisations offer support: 

  • Alzheimer's Society's new personalised support service, Dementia Connect, has a support line: 0333 150 3456
  • Visit Stroke Association or call 0303 3033 100
  • Headway, the brain injury association or call 0808 800 2244
  • Mencap, for those with a learning disability or call 0808 808 1111
  • Reading Mencap is helping local children and adults with a learning disability and their families. 

Safeguarding children

You can raise concerns about a child's welfare via the Children's Single Point of Access (pre-birth to 18 years old) in Reading. Phone: 0118 937 3641 (includes out of hours contact details). Email: cspoa@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

If a child is in immediate danger call the police on 999. Find out more information at https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/concerned-about-a-child

National support and advice: www.nspcc.org.uk   

If you're an adult concerned about a child, call 0808 800 5000

Children and young people can call Childline on 0800 1111

Domestic abuse

Please reach out for support if you are experiencing abuse or worried about another adult you believe may be experiencing abuse.

Escaping abuse is an entirely valid reason for leaving your home during the lockdown. There are many organisations which can help support you to do this as safely as possible. It's important to know that you are not alone. Even if you are unable to leave your home you can still access support through one of the helplines listed below. If you suspect that members of your family, friends, neighbours or those in your community are victims of domestic abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.

How to get help

If you feel you are in immediate danger call 999. Press 55 when prompted if you can't speak. If you can't use a voice phone, you can register with the police text service - text REGISTER to 999.

If your situation is not urgent, call the police on 101 or contact the Housing Advice Service on 0118 937 2165 (01344 786 512 after 5pm) to plan your next steps if you need to move home because you are at risk. Find out more at www.reading.gov.uk/domesticabuse

Berkshire Women's Aid is there to help men, women and families who may be affected by any form of domestic abuse, and its services and refuges remain open. You can call the 24/7 helpline on 0118 950 4003. You can also contact them via Facebook or email helpline@bwaid.org.uk. Just let them know how to contact you and what time to contact you.

Refuge UK supports women, children and men experiencing domestic violence with a range of services and offers support through their 24-hour helpline: 0808 2000 247

Avoiding scams

We all need to be more vigilant against scams, particularly about sharing our financial and personal information, as criminals seek to cash in on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Only accept help from trusted sources or people you know. 

Council welfare calls

The council is calling residents during this time to check on their welfare, particularly if they have been identified as vulnerable. This may include people that are on the NHS England's shielded list and who have care and support needs. We understand some residents may query if these calls are genuine.

Our staff will identify themselves as calling from the Reading Council. They may ask after your wellbeing, if you need any food or medication. They also check if you are able meet your personal care needs or have someone to help you - such as with washing and dressing.

However, they will never ask for any specific personal, financial or bank details from you during these calls. If in doubt, you can contact our customer services team between 8.30am to 5pm (Monday to Friday) via 0118 937 3787 (out-of-hours emergencies: 0118 937 3737).

If you need personal support in these areas, or know someone that does, please call 0118 9373747, where the team will discuss this with you.

One Reading Community Hub food parcels

The Council has set up the One Reading Community hub to provide vulnerable residents with support if they are not able to access help from friends, family or the local community.

Our volunteers will deliver food parcels to people's homes. They will hopefully provide reassurance that the support is from Reading Council and they would never ask for money or to come inside your home uninvited. They should also provide ID on request.

Don't let anyone into your home you weren't expecting and always ask for ID. If you have any concerns about support being genuine and would like reassurance, you can call the hub on 0808 1894325 (freephone) from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

Many other local charities are also providing support such as food parcels. The great majority are genuine and there to help you. However, always ask for ID and never part with any money. If you are concerned, you can seek advice from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service www.citizensadvice.org.uk call 0808 223 1133.

Many local groups are still contactable through their website or usual phone number. Please check the Reading Services Guide for updates on what is happening locally:
http://servicesguide.reading.gov.uk

Be aware of people offering or selling:

  • Virus testing kits - these are only offered by the NHS or official organisations
  • Vaccines or miracle cures - there is currently no vaccine or cure
  • Overpriced or fake goods
  • Shopping, medications collection services, or home cleaning services (only use trusted sources)

If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front.

To deal with scams, follow these three steps:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It's OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you've fallen for a scam.

Don't give money to someone you don't know or in response to unsolicited requests by text message or email. If in doubt, check with the organisation the message claims to come from and if an offer sounds too good to be true - it probably is.

If you'd like to donate, make sure it is through trust/known organisations. The Berkshire Community Foundation are building an emergency fund to help those most affected in Berkshire by the impact of Coronavirus. Find out more information visit www.berkshirecf.org or call 0118 945 0257

Reporting scams

Please report the scam or anything you spot that is suspicious. Your information is useful and may protect others. Contact the police immediately by calling 101 if the scammer is in your area or if you've transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours. If a person is carrying out a scam and their behaviour is threatening or if you feel unsafe call 999. We also advise you contact your bank as soon as possible.

Citizens Advice Consumer Service

www.citizensadvice.org.uk  can offer support if you or someone you know has been scammed. They will give you advice on what to do next. Visit their website or call 0808 223 1133. You can use the online scams helper: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/reporting-a-scam

The information you provide will be shared with other organisations, including the Council's trading standards team for any local action needed.

Friends Against Scams

www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk has a useful list of the current scams that are circulating.

Shopping and food deliveries

Covid-19 and food

The Food Standards Agency has new guidance to help people understand more about COVID-19 and food. The guidance covers a range of issues including food hygiene, food packaging and social distancing when shopping. There is also advice on storing food at home, to help people manage leftovers and avoid waste.

Find out more at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-consumers-on-coronavirus-covid-19-and-food/guidance-for-consumers-on-coronavirus-covid-19-and-food

Shopping during isolation

  • Make a list of the things you need day-to-day, including food, household essentials and medication.
  • There is no need to stockpile. Shops and pharmacies will keep refreshing their supplies and many have introduced measures to reduce stockpiling.
  • It may take longer than usual to receive online deliveries to your home, so plan ahead.
  • If someone claims to be from a recognised organisation, ask to see proof or check with the organisation itself. 
  • If someone you don't know offers you help with your shopping don't feel pressured to accept help. If you do accept help never hand-over money, bank details or cards to someone you don't know offering to help you.
  • If someone offers to do your shopping, ask for a receipt so that you can pay them on their return to cover the costs of the items.

Find out more: www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/coronavirus/doing-your-shopping--coronavirus-advice/

How to order online

Age UK has produced a guide for staying safe online: www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/work-learning/technology-internet/internet-security. Tips include only using online retailers with a good reputation, as either high-street shops or established online stores. Use the same credit card for internet transactions only. If anything goes wrong, you can always cancel this card.

These are links to some of the supermarkets online/telephone ordering:

Under the current circumstances it may take time to get a delivery slot.

Some supermarkets have set up dedicated telephone lines for people who are shielding, so you can call to register and/or to try to book a delivery slot.

  • Morrisons 0345 611 6111 - select option 5
  • Sainsbury's 0800 328 1700
  • Tesco 0800 917 7359

Other supermarkets have confirmed they are working to ensure slots are available for those who are shielding - if you have an existing online account they will be trying to identify you from the government lists, in order to provide delivery slots.

If you are shielding and struggling to get a food delivery contact the One Reading Community Hub for support and advice on 0808 1894325.

Online takeaway food delivery

Reduce noise and nuisance

Now we are all at home people are noticing noises and annoyances that they may not have done before. A considerable number of people will need to work from home and children will be doing school work at home. The pandemic situation will also result in increased anxiety for many people. With this in mind, please think about how noise from your home could be causing problems and upset to others. For the same reason, we would urge everyone to be more tolerant and patient with noise and activity.

Tips to reduce noise and nuisance:

  • Avoid burning your household or garden waste on bonfires at this time. Although it is not against the law, smoke inhalation can impair breathing in vulnerable people. This may result in additional hospital visits, increasing pressure on the NHS.
  • Reduce your noise if you can and if you are asked by a neighbour to keep your noise down please try to help find a compromise that works for you both.
  • Equally, try to consider the lifestyle of your neighbours; e.g. do they have young children who need to blow off steam in the garden because they cannot go out.
  • Be mindful that what is considered entertainment for one person can be torture for someone else. Avoid playing music so loud that your neighbours can hear it and keep the bass level down. A set of headphones can make life easier.
  • Try to position any speakers away from adjoining walls, floors and ceilings. Loud music in the garden is more likely to cause a problem to your neighbours - try and keep it at or below conversation level or wear headphones.
  • Some people play musical instruments - try to keep practices short and at reasonable times.
  • Some people may choose to complete DIY tasks. While you may enjoy putting your time at home to good use, your neighbours will not enjoy long periods of drilling, sawing or hammering.

The Council can help in certain circumstances if noise is sustained and unacceptable - however, everyday noise is not something we can act against. You can use the noise app to record evidence of the nuisance.
You can also email environmental.protection@reading.gov.uk

The police are urging people to only call 999 if it is an emergency and 101 if it is urgent. If you can, use online services. Please only contact the police about breaches of the 'stay at home' measures if you feel there is a significant issue or serious breach of the restrictions.

Find out more at: www.thamesvalley.police.uk/police-forces/thames-valley-police/areas/coronavirus

Information for pet owners

You can walk your dog once a day provided you are alone or with members of your household. 

Advice for pet owners: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-people-with-animals

Tips and advice from the RSPCA www.rspca.org.uk/coronavirus


 

 

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