We all need to stay at home to protect ourselves and others. However, those who are well and not at risk can provide essential support for their family, friends and neighbours who cannot leave the house.
During this challenging time, it’s really important that we take care of ourselves and others. And that’s the case no matter where you live - from a flat in a city to a croft on an island.
The information below explains how you can provide essential support safely.
Neighbours, friends or family who have to stay at home because someone in the household has coronavirus/symptoms.
Neighbours, friends or family who are 70 and over, or have and health conditions (that means you are offered the flu jab on grounds of health each year)
Providing practical help
There are simple ways you can help your neighbours without exposing yourself or them, if they cannot leave the house:
You could do some food shopping for them when you are doing your own.
You could place an online shopping order for them or talk them through the process over the phone.
You could pick up their prescriptions or arrange a pharmacy delivery where available.
You could support with general errands such as posting letters or putting the bins out.
If you are helping with prescriptions, you should remind people that they must only order the medication they need in their usual quantities; nobody should be stockpiling.
How to do this safely
Try to limit the amount of time you spend outside of your home by picking up essential items for others only when you do your regular shop.
You should not physically visit people who are self-isolating as this would put you at risk of infection, or risk spreading it to others. This means you shouldn’t enter their house or go on a car journey with them.
Keep a distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you are helping – if you have to see them on the doorstep
Leave any shopping or other messages on the doorstep, but make sure that they have been collected before leaving.
Remember to wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
Do not place yourself in compromising positions where you may feel unsafe, for instance helping late at night.
Be aware that if you are helping someone you don’t know personally, they may not want to share personal details with you like phone numbers.
You should also warn those you are helping not to let strangers into their home – and not to give strangers money under any circumstances.
Providing emotional support
Self-isolation can be a really lonely time. However, Government advice is available to protect the most vulnerable in our society. We can help each other by staying in touch – whether neighbours or friends and family who live further away. You can do all of these from your own home:
You personally can help with regular calls, text messages and contact via social media.
You can also help by talking people through the setup for video calls so they can connect with their friends and family remotely.
You can encourage people to stay mentally and physically active with activities such as cooking, reading, gardening, online learning or watching films.
Swap suggestions about how to keep busy. If people are well enough; encourage them to do some light exercise and keep active around the home, perhaps by using an online exercise class.
Share trusted sources of information. It’s easy to become worried by online information, some of which may be deliberately designed to mislead people. Help your community by sharing trusted information from websites like
If someone you don’t know calls at your home, always ask for valid ID and always ensure you are comfortable sharing details like your phone number or address. Only provide information on a need-to-know basis and if you have seen valid ID. Do not share financial details like credit/debit card numbers.
Do not feel pressured into providing information. If you have doubts about those who are approaching you, and are concerned, it is advised that you don’t engage, and report serious suspicious behaviour to police.
Remember that genuine volunteers have been instructed not to enter your home and should all have documentation proving their status.
Community Resilience Groups
There are a large number of local community groups that have already started to rally local support. Look out for these on Facebook and in local community channels, and join in.
If you would like to set up a new community resilience group, we have guidance available. These groups provide great help not only during the current challenges, but also in future during bad weather or other disruption.