For guidance on how to stop the infection spreading visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19
New national Covid-19 restrictions in England
The Prime Minister has announced that a new national lockdown will come into effect in England on Monday 4 January.
Priority supermarket delivery slots available to blind and partially sighted people in England who need them
After months of campaigning by RNIB, Guide Dogs and Visionary and TPT, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has recognised specific challenges faced by people with sight loss, among others. Defra has secured online shopping slots from a number of major supermarkets for people whose independence has been challenged by the lockdown, including those with sight loss. The scheme is particularly aimed at those who don’t have friends or family nearby who can easily shop for them.
This comes after 22,653 individuals joined us and our sector partners to ask the government to work with supermarkets to ensure blind and partially sighted people have access to vital supplies. Thank you all for your support.
Blind and partially sighted people have struggled to properly access supermarkets and have been unable to find online shopping slots. This is because priority online shopping slots are being given to people the Government has identified as ‘vulnerable’. However the list being used to define this group is based on vulnerability to coronavirus, and doesn’t yet take other barriers to shopping or accessing services into account.
Social distancing also makes it much harder for blind and partially sighted people to shop because many people rely on a guide who might not be part of their household, and some stores have changed their layout or queuing systems to encourage people to stay two metres apart.
Now people in England can be referred to the shopping slots through RNIB’s Helpline. Callers will speak to a member of our Sight Loss Advice Service who will assess the individual’s need and allocate them a slot if appropriate. People can access this new support via RNIB’s Helpline on 0303 123 9999, from 8am to 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.
Read more on this on the RNIB webpage
Listen to RNIB’s Director of Services, David Clarke on BBC Radio 4 InTouch
Food access options
Defra (the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs) has created a document to help local authorities and charities signpost people to commercially available food options including telephone ordering, food box or prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers.
Do you need help from an NHS volunteer?
If you are currently not supported and need some help with shopping, a prescription collection or a friendly chat then NHS Volunteer Responders are ready to help.
Street design guidance for local authorities
In partnership with Guide Dogs, RNIB and Visionary, TPT helped to develop guidance for local authorities on street design in the wake of COVID-19.
Increasing the space available for walking is particularly important for blind and partially sighted people who may struggle to maintain social distancing from other pedestrians they cannot see.
It is important changes, including those intended to encourage cycling, maintain or improve accessibility of our streets for everyone. The guidance outlines the importance of communication with visually impaired people on the changes and their reliance on physical cues such as kerbs, tactile paving and controlled crossings to navigate safely. It also highlights the importance of a physical demarcation between pedestrian areas and cycle tracks. You can read the full guidance here.
E-scooters – guidance for local authorities and e-scooter rental operators
As a result of COVID-19, the government is keen to encourage a greater use of alternative forms of transport. One of the actions it has taken is to approve specifications for e-scooters which are faster, heavier and have greater acceleration than in other European countries.
Micromobility vehicles such as e-scooters are extremely difficult for blind and partially sighted people to see. They operate quietly which makes them difficult to hear. And it may not always be obvious to someone driving a micromobility vehicle that they are approaching a pedestrian with vision impairment. These difficulties make interactions between the two potentially dangerous.
So, a number of sight loss charities, including Thomas Pocklington Trust, have produced guidance for both local authorities considering hosting e-scooter trials and e-scooter operators participating in rental e-scooter trials to raise the issues. Download these here:
How should e-scooters sound? Have your say
As part of the #StreetsForAll campaign, Sight Loss Councils are calling for the installation of Acoustic Vehicle Alert Systems (AVAS) on e-scooters and are conducting research into how AVAS should sound. You can take part by filling in a short survey. Share your thoughts on how you feel e-scooters can be made safer and what sound they should make. The survey is only five questions long and should take you no longer than five minutes to complete.
Access to Work
Thomas Pocklington Trust is leading work with national partners to address Access to Work issues. We are in regular discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and have achieved many easements to support Access to Work customers. These have included accepting email claim forms from customers who request this as a reasonable adjustment, extending Support Worker awards that are coming to an end by 6 months, and extending the timeframe customers have to submit payment claim forms to 9 months. Additionally, DWP is prioritising making grants for new claims from critical workers, those in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and people due to start work within 4 weeks.
As of August 2020, we are pleased to announce further easements from the DWP to support customers. You may now be able to get help with working from home, at your normal workplace, or a combination of both.
If you cannot use public transport safely because of your disability, and your doctor or healthcare professional supports this, funding may be available for extra travel costs. If you employ your own support worker and have additional costs for personal protective equipment (PPE) Access to Work may be able to provide funding.
In the longer term, work is underway to develop an online portal for Access to Work customers. While there is no date currently set for the release of this portal, TPT and other charities are working with the DWP to ensure full accessibility of the system.
Details of all the changes during COVID-19 are available in the Access to Work: factsheet for customers.
A group of leading disability charities, including Thomas Pocklington Trust, have been lobbying government to make sure information reaches everyone in society, especially the most vulnerable. We have highlighted the inaccessible government updates on coronavirus and asked the Prime Minister to appoint a national lead on the issue. The Government has consistently been sharing vital public health information and other updates in a way that excludes people with sensory or complex disabilities, despite reminders from many disability organisations.
We are delighted to report, following this joint letter to the PM above, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP, has appointed a senior lead for accessible information. Claire Pimm, Director of National Resilience Communications at the Cabinet Office, has been appointed as the senior lead for this.
In response to our comments that the Government had consistently been sharing vital public health information and other updates in a way that excludes people with sensory or complex disabilities, the Cabinet Office has now reissued guidance to all Government Departments reminding them of their duties under the Equality Act that “reasonable adjustments” are made to ensure communications are accessible.
The group has created and shared with Government a checklist of simple steps that should be taken to ensure communications are accessible.
Guidance for self-employed individuals
Many blind and partially sighted people are self-employed and are currently being adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This short guide outlines the support the government has put in place and some tips, you might find helpful, on managing finances.
Guidance for students
We have put together some advice and guidance for students with vision impairment and professionals supporting students entering Higher Education during the Covid-19 crisis.
Guidance for students with vision impairment
Student Support Service briefing: Choosing a university during COVID-19
Guidance for Higher Education professionals supporting students with vision impairment
Support for parents and carers of children with vision impairment
Blind and partially sighted people have been contacting us with a range of questions related to COVID-19. We’ve come together with other sight loss sector organisations to share these FAQs which will be frequently updated:
We have a pulled together an outline on what each of the national sight loss charities are doing during the pandemic with links to their websites and how to get in touch. You can download this here:
Standing up for blind and partially sighted people on vaccines and testing
The Government and NHS is rolling our access to Covid-19 vaccines and community testing across the country. Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) and Sight Loss Councils (SLC) are working with other sight loss sector organisations to make sure that the needs of blind and partially sighted people are considered as part of this important work. Read our guidance.
COVID-19 testing for blind and partially sighted people
COVID-19 tests are now available to anybody in England who has symptoms. You can apply for a test online here.
This test is called an antibody test and will tell you if you currently have the virus. It involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. The tests are available at regional testing centres, mobile testing centres and via home test kits.
At regional drive through testing centres or temporary mobile testing centres blind and partially sighted people can be supported by a sighted driver and advisory staff are available at the centres to provide assistance.
Home testing kits are self-administered and the feedback from blind and partially sighted people is that the instructions are not currently in an accessible format and the test can be challenging to administer.
TPT is currently working with sector partners and the government to improve the accessibility of testing instructions to include alternative formats. We are also aiming to do some targeted work with volunteers to look for ways to make the actual test simpler to administer for blind and partially sighted people. The ambition is to improve the COVID-19 test and any future testing processes that may be developed.
Can you help?
The NHS is looking for volunteers in a number of roles. This includes collecting and delivering shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating; providing transport home for patients who are medically fit for discharge from hospital; transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites or simply checking in via telephone with people who are self isolating. If you think you could help, register here: www.goodsamapp.org/NHS
Advice for our residential tenants
Any tenant occupying one of our properties who has a maintenance issue should continue to contact the Tandem Help Desk:
Telephone – 0203 942 7997
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Any questions concerning the payment of rent or other tenancy matters please contact Stephanie Green at Tandem:
Telephone – 07957 363623
Email – email@example.com
Hammersmith and Fulham Council, the borough in which Pocklington Lodge sits, has launched a community aid network, with a central phone line and email hub – staffed by redeployed council officers and supported by more than 1,300 volunteers who have signed up to help.
The freephone 0800 145 6095 and email firstname.lastname@example.org will be open from 9am to 7pm, offering urgent food deliveries and support for those suffering from loneliness or isolation. Residents who need urgent help – and friends, family or relatives of those who need help – are encouraged to call or email for assistance.
Handy apps during COVID-19
At this time, when technology is so important for enabling blind and partially sighted people to live the life they want to lead, we have created a list of accessible apps and solutions for greater independence, support, communication and entertainment for blind and partially sighted people.
Need to get in touch?
Pocklington Hub is closed and our teams are working from home. If you have an enquiry and know the contact details of that staff member, please contact them directly. For all other enquiries contact: email@example.com or telephone: 0208 995 0880.
Stay healthy. Stay safe.
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