COVID-19 support

This page provides Covid-19 advice for blind and partially sighted people  including home testing, accessible communication and Access to Work.

For guidance on how to stop the infection spreading visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

 

Be My Eyes users in the UK can now receive support with at-home COVID tests

COVID testing at home has taken a step further today to being more accessible for blind and partially sighted people as Department of Health and Social Care – DHSC launched free live video assistance to any UK citizen via the Be My Eyes app.

Be My Eyes can now connect people to specially trained NHS Test and Trace staff who can help with as much or as little of the home PCR testing process, from ordering a test kit to taking and returning the test.

TPT and Sight Loss Councils have worked alongside partners RNIB, Macular Society and Visionary throughout the last six months to provide insights, assist in the training of specialist agents and take the service from a critical trial phase to full launch.

Find out more on Be My Eyes

 

Covid-19 home testing

TPT is has been working with sector partners and the government to improve the accessibility of testing instructions to include alternative formats.  After months of campaigning the government is now making all PCR home testing kits more accessible for blind and partially sighted people. Find out more on Gov.uk

Watch the video below of TPT’s Mike Bell discussing this important campaign.

 

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.

We’re continuing to work with the Cabinet Office to get a more accessible lateral flow device – these are the fast tests which you do at home to get additional assurance on your Covid status.

Sighted guiding

Following the relaxation of coronavirus rules in England, we’ve issued revised guidance on sighted guiding, jointly with Guide Dogs and RNIB.

The latest update still recommends people are careful while guiding, particularly if anyone involved was previously shielding, although this is now presented as advice, rather than a requirement.

Advice on sighted guiding in England (Word)

Advice on sighted guiding in Scotland (Word)

 

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. 

Support for parents and carers of children with vision impairment

We have put together advice, guidance and resources for parents and carers of children with vision impairment during the Covid-19 crisis.

Find out more about TPT’s Children, young people and families service

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.

Take a look at our handy guide here.

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.

Support for self-employed guide

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 – helpdesk@envirotechfm.com

Any questions concerning the payment of rent or other tenancy matters please contact Stephanie Green at Tandem:

Telephone – 07957 363623

Email – sgreen@tandem-property.com

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.

Visit the NHS Volunteer Responders website

 

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.

Accessible communications

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.

Read our open letter to the PM 

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.

You can read this checklist for accessibility here

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.

Support for self-employed guide

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

Find out more about TPT’s Student support service

 

Guidance for Pocklington Lodge residents

Photo of man on phone smiling

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 can@lbhf.gov.uk 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.

 

Sighted advice FAQs

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:

www.sightadvicefaq.org.uk/independent-living/Covid-19

Need to get in touch?

If you have an enquiry and know the contact details of that staff member, please contact them directly. For all other enquiries contact: info@pocklington-trust.org.uk or telephone: 0208 995 0880.

 

Stay healthy. Stay safe. 

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