COVID-19 support As per the Government’s advice, everyone must stay alert to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For more information on this along with guidance on how to stop the infection spreading visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19 Supermarkets and shopping Together with RNIB, Guide Dogs and Visionary, TPT has written to supermarket chief executives to ask them how they are helping blind and partially sighted people. For a summary of what the main supermarket chains are doing to help disabled customers, including dedicated shopping times, deliveries and food boxes please visit the RNIB webpage Blind and partially sighted people are struggling to properly access supermarkets, and unable to find online shopping slots. This is often 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 is making 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 are also changing their layout or queuing systems to encourage people to stay two metres apart. Lobbying Government We have written to Rt Hon George Eustice MP with RNIB, Guide Dogs, VisionUK and Visionary to ask the Government to urgently work with supermarkets to ensure that people with vision impairment are considered a priority group able to access online shopping. You can see the full version of this letter here. We have also written to all MPs also asking them to add their voices to our campaign. 22,653 individuals joined us, Guide Dogs, RNIB and Visionary in asking the government to work with supermarkets to ensure blind and partially sighted people have access to vital supplies. We've now handed in the petition and are waiting for a response from Defra. Thank you for your joint support. 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. Defra food access options list 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 during COVID-19 including the current need for physical signatures for claims. We have held detailed discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on this issue and can announce that the DWP has now provided new online guidance about Access to Work during COVID-19: Access to Work: factsheet for customers This includes advice for those making claims and the need to send physical claim forms. The guidance says “If you cannot leave home or ask someone else to post your claim for costs, contact your Access to Work adviser and ask if you can send your claim by email. They will tell you what you need to do. You can also send the email from your employer of your support worker by email.” We have confirmed with the DWP that there is an option to email all parts of the claim form. However, this must first be agreed with the adviser and be classed as a reasonable adjustment. 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 accessibility of the system for all. Accessible communications Together with other disability sector organisations, we are lobbying the Prime Minister’s Office, highlighting the inaccessible government updates on coronavirus and asking him 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. Education Select Committee Inquiry The Education Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services. TPT, in partnership with other sight loss organisations, conducted surveys of both parents and carers, and sight loss sector professionals to feed into this inquiry. This will help committee MPs understand what effect COVID-19 has had on the lives of children and young people with vision impairment and their families, and how they can plan for the future. Your questions answered 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 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: National sight loss charities advice page 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 impairmentStudent Support Service briefing: Choosing a university during COVID-19Guidance for Higher Education professionals supporting students with vision impairment Support for parents and carers of children with vision impairment We have created a guide with useful links for support and other information for parents, carers and families of vision impaired children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Support for families of VI children during COVID-19 It is understandably a worrying time for many parents and children returning to school. There have been changes to SEND law and Education and Health Care plans during the pandemic. This brief guide has some links on how you can find further information around these changes. Guidance and FAQ's from Gov.UK During our recent survey of how children have been impacted by the closure of schools following the pandemic, we have heard from parents who have concerns about their child’s learning during the ‘lockdown’ period and how their mental health has been impacted. Some parents are choosing not to send their child back to school. If this is the case, your child should still have access to home learning provided by the school. ‘Vulnerable’ children, including those with EHCPs (Education, Health and Care Plan) can return to school as of 1/06/20. There are concerns about the safety of children following the wider re-opening of educational establishments. The expectation to send children back to school is subject to the completion or updating of a risk assessment. Risk Assessment Guidance. On 29/05/20, a modifications notice extension was made to EHCPs. This now means that vulnerable children will be returning to school without the legal protection provided by their EHCPs. For further details on this visit EHCP changes. These changes are in place until 30/06/20 and will be reviewed on 1/07/20. The term ”reasonable endeavours" is being used instead of the child’s EHCP being implemented. For further information on this please go to Gov.UK EHCP you can also find further information at IPSEA. TPT, in partnership with a number of other disability and children’s charities, wrote to the new Children & Families Minister, Vicky Ford, about the impact of COVID-19 on children with SEND including the legal changes, preparations for the return to school, and the urgent need to progress the SEND Review. Read the full letter here. If you are concerned about any of the above please contact [email protected] 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 – [email protected] Any questions concerning the payment of rent or other tenancy matters please contact Stephanie Green at Tandem: Telephone – 07957 363623 Email – [email protected] 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 [email protected] 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. Take a look at our handy guide here. 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 protected] or telephone: 0208 995 0880. Stay healthy. Stay safe.