I am worried about accessing products and services during the coronavirus pandemic, who can help?

Supermarkets are open but are offering reduced opening hours. Some of the bigger supermarkets are offering special opening hours, to allow vulnerable and blind and partially sighted customers to shop as safely as possible. For links to all the supermarkets and their current hours please visit our Essential links and information on supermarket opening.

Certain other retailers such as hardware stores and garden centres are also now allowed to open. 

However, the government advises its still important to stay at home unless its necessary to visit shops that are permitted to be open, for items such as food and medicine. If you do need to go out use your symbol cane if you have one to let others know you have sight loss. Supermarket and store staff will be willing to help you find the items you need. 

The general advice is to wear face coverings when in public, but this advice may change or might be different depending on where you live. Please follow your government’s guidelines. For more information on face masks and social distancing, visit the gov.uk coronavirus (Covid-19) web pages, with additional information for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Getting to the shops

The London Taxicard scheme has introduced extra services for customers. You can now use you Taxicard for:

  • Taxicard drivers to pick up and deliver essential supplies for you; and 
  • Allow friends and family to travel on your behalf using your Taxicard for the same purpose

Please check their website for full details and further information.

Further Help

The NHS Volunteer responders may be able to help you if you meet specific criteria, or consider yourself vulnerable for another reason (for instance, you have Parkinson's, Epilepsy or are vulnerable due to a mental health condition) and you need help collecting shopping, medication or would like a telephone ‘check in and chat’.

The specific criteria for help can be found on their website but it does include:

  • People aged 70 years and older with underlying health conditions
  • People who have a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010
  • If you are in the ‘extremely vulnerable’ to Covid-19 group and have been sent a letter asking you to shield from the virus 

If you meet the specific criteria you can call them on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm) to arrange volunteer support.

If you have a medical condition which makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (Covid-19), and live in England, register on the gov.uk website to let them know whether or not you need support.

If you live in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales further information can be found on the following links:

For further information please also see How do I engage with my local support networks? and I can't go out; can I get my shopping delivered?

If you need further advice or support during this time, please call RNIB on 0303 123 9999.

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