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Look out for each other: How to help safely during COVID-19

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. But there are ways you can support those around you, safely.

As part of Public Health England's 'Looking Out for Each Other' campaign, launched this week, the government have released guidance outlining how you can help others and stay safe during COVID-19.

Focusing on the small things members of the public can all do to help each other during the pandemic, the campaign provides practical guidance about how everyday tasks, like running errands or simply staying in touch, can be done safely.

The people of Wirral have been dealing with the realities of Coronavirus since January, when groups of repatriated Brits were isolated in Arrowe Park Hospital. During this time, volunteers, charities and organisations rushed to support these people, showing that kindness was alive and well across the borough.

As Wirral residents continue to show this kindness of spirit across the borough, the Looking Out for Each Other message is for people to protect themselves, in order to continue protecting others.

A message from Wirral's Director of Public Health, Julie Webster:

Below, we've broken down some of the main points of the guidance into a simple Q&A.

Q. Can I help?

A. According to national guidance, you can only provide support to people who are in isolation if you fulfil ALL of the conditions below:

  • You are well and have no symptoms like a cough or high temperature and nobody in your household does
  • You are under 70
  • You are not pregnant
  • You do not have any long-term health conditions that make you vulnerable to coronavirus.

Q. Who can I help?

A. You can help households who are isolating. This could include friends and family members as well as your neighbours.

If you want to help in Wirral, read about how you can get involved in your community during this time via the Wirral InfoBank volunteering page.

Q. How can I help safely?

A. When helping others you should:

  • stay 2m or six feet away from anyone you do not live with at all times. Do not share a car journey with them.
  • regularly wash your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • not place yourself in positions where you may feel unsafe, for instance helping late at night.
  • try to limit the amount of time you spend outside of your home by picking up essential items for them when you do your own shopping or collect their medicines during the same trip.

If you or someone in your household has shown symptoms, or if you are more vulnerable to coronavirus yourself, then you must stay home.

Q. What can I do?

A. There are many ways you can help friends, friends or neighbours who are in isolation including:

  • Help with food shopping - If people staying at home because of coronavirus need basic necessities, you could do this yourself and leave the groceries on the person’s doorstep. You could also help those who aren’t as familiar with online shopping by placing an order for them or by talking them through the process over the phone.
  • Collecting medication - You can pick up medicines on someone else’s behalf. People should only request medication that they need, in their usual quantities. Remember to keep a safe distance when leaving any items on the person’s doorstep or drop off area, and make sure that they have collected the medication before leaving.
  • Stay in touch over the phone or via social media - Staying at home for a long time can be a lonely experience and may impact on an individual's, or a family's, wellbeing. Just saying hello and regularly checking in over the phone or by video-chat is important, or you could help people by recommending information from organisations like Every Mind Matters.
  • Encourage people to stay mentally and physically active - People who have experienced staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning or watching films. Swap suggestions about how people you are supporting can keep themselves 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 the NHS, Public Health England or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Q. What should I do if I’m worried about someone’s health?

A. Encourage anyone you are in touch with or supporting to use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service. They should only call 111 if they can’t get online, their symptoms worsen or they have been instructed to. Call 999 if you believe someone’s life is at risk.

Q. How do I stay safe when accepting help from others?

A. If you are receiving voluntary help do not share financial details like credit/debit card numbers or personal information.

If someone you don’t know calls at your home, always ask for 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 ID. 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 the police.

Remember: genuine volunteers have been instructed not to enter your home.

For more information, refer to the guidance on staying at home.

For further information on volunteering, NHS responders and more, visit gov.uk/safehelp.