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Advice and resources during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Just wanted to say how I impressed I am with this at present; it is even more a helpful resource than usual. Thank you." - Rehabilitation Officer for the Visually Impaired on WCB's information service.

If you would like to include or revise information about your services, please contact us on 02920 473954 or email richard@wcb-ccd.org.uk.

We at WCB would like to reassure members that we are still working and will continue to provide advice and support via telephone or email.

Telephone: 02920 473954

Staff Email addresses:

Owen Williams (Director) - owen@wcb-ccd.org.uk
Rebecca Phillips (External Engagement Officer) -
bec@wcb-ccd.org.uk
Richard Bowers (Communications Officer) -
richard@wcb-ccd.org.uk

Contents:

SUPPORT IN YOUR AREA.

Go here for UK and Wales-wide general sight loss and specialist organisation contacts.)

For contacts in local authorities (local community support and local sight loss organisations):

These are also available as patient booklets in Word format.

CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION AND ADVICE.

How to book a test if you have symptoms.

Anyone experiencing these coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature and continuous cough – is able to apply for a home testing kit using the new UK online portal. For further information and a link to the booking website visit: 

Alternatively, members of the public can apply for a home testing kit by phoning the free number 119. 

People with hearing or speech difficulties can call 18001 119.

Welsh Government links to help and information in Wales.

https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support/

Insight Radio talks to Gwyn Williams on the current state of Opthalmology and Optometry services in Wales under Covid19 measures. (MP3)

Sight Cymru's Bablin Molik talks to Rhagu Ram about the situation in Cardiff's Ophthalomology cinic in this Zoom video.

Bablin talks to Sali Davis of Optometry Wales about the situation with optometry low vision services in this Zoom video.

Advice from ACAS for employees and employers.

Vulnerable people and high-risk

Health and behavioural advice.

For advice and updates about the Coronavirus, visit these official websites:

Information in other languages.

Information from Public Health (England) in a number of languages (inc. Welsh) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

Covid 19 videos in a number of languages: http://hawaherts.co.uk/covid-19-advice-in-other-languages/

More language videos: https://www.bradford.gov.uk/health/health-advice-and-support/coronavirus-covid-19-advice/

Government Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp.

To use the free GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp, simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

Welsh Government issuing letters.

Letters to individuals identified as in need of shielding are being sent out. Accessible formats are being produced. If you haven't received a letter and you feel you should due to an underlying health condition, take a look at this statement: https://gov.wales/get-coronavirus-support-extremely-vulnerable-person

Older People's Commissioner for Wales.

Older People's Commissioner for Wales coronavirus information hub.

ACCESSIBLE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION.

This advice on communication needs has been compiled for health workers in Word and PDF. Additional material from Welsh organisations can be found in Word format at communications_needs_wales.docx

Accessible coronavirus advice.

There is signed information at signhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/

and NHS has the following:

Welsh Ambulance Service.

The following BSL and audio videos talk about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), what it is and why you may see our staff wearing it:

The following explains the new Covid19 Symptom Tracker App and encourages all to download and report  their symptoms daily, even if that means reporting having no symptoms:

Covid App BSL & English Audio – https://youtu.be/U8bvXlWiXwQ

Covid App BSL & Welsh Audio – https://youtu.be/uyhj_8vy-5E

A wide range of information in Easy Read can also be accessed on the NHS Direct Wales website https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/easyreads/articlelist/Coronavirus (COVID19)

Transcriptions.

Pia Publishing are a 'critical supplier' so they are continuing to produce Braille. www.pia.co.uk

Wales Council of the Blind is able to produce Audio CDs as usual. We will be focusing on materials that are critical for vulnerable people for the time being. Contact Richard Bowers richard@wcb-ccd.org.uk. We shall, when print versions of Sylw and Roundup are produced, distribute Audio CDs as normal.

READING SERVICES / TALKING NEWSPAPERS

Talking News Federation: https://www.tnf.org.uk/

South Wales Talking Magazine Association currently shall continue their service as normal.

RNIB

RNIB have increased the number of Talking Books for USB users so you can now have three books at a time. In anticipation of potential issues producing and delivering USB sticks over the forthcoming months, RNIB would encourage as many customers as possible to receive Talking Books via their new digital service. For further information or to register, call 0303 123 9999.

Calibre Audio

Calibre Audio are allowing their members to stockpile a few audiobooks. They have increased the number of memory sticks and CDs you can borrow in one go to 10 of each. You can also listen to their books online 24/7.
Website: www.calibreaudio.org.uk/

Contact Calibre Audio on: 01296 432339.

PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL WELLBEING

Top Five Accessible Mindfulness Apps.

The team at Vision Support has identified their top 5 mindfulness apps:

1) Headspace (seven day free trial, subscription) - Chances are that if you are at all interested in mindfulness apps, you will have heard of this one. Headspace is worth mentioning, however, because of its large variety of features and its colourful, user-friendly design.

2) Moodfit (Free) - This great app allows you to track moods, set goals and complete tasks to help your physical and emotional wellbeing. It encourages a proactive approach while still focusing on self-compassion. It also features a bold, simple design.

3) The Mindfulness App (Free with in-app purchases) - A good alternative to Headspace, the Mindfulness App can be synched with Apple Health for a more integrated way of keeping on top of your wellbeing.

4) Ten Percent Happier (Free with in-app purchases) - Designed ‘for the sceptics’, this is a self-help app that focuses on small steps toward emotional wellbeing. It features a minimalistic interface and is easy to set up.

5) Breethe (Free with in-app purchases) - Now with features designed to help you during lockdown, this app allows you to tailor your wellbeing goals with a variety of relaxing ambient sounds and guided meditations.

OTHER USEFUL ORGANISATIONS.

Age Cymru check-in and chat for over 70s.

Age Cymru have launched a check in and chat service for anyone over the age of 70 and living alone as a way of helping to combat self isolation

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/cymru/information-advice/age-cymru-advice/check-in-and-chat/

AgeUK

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/befriending-services/sign-up-for-telephone-befriending/

Care and Repair "Keeping in Touch" Telephone Support Service.

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak Care and Repair in Bridgend are offering a telephone befriending and advice service to older people?who are self-isolating.

They want to help as many older people to get the help and support they need during this difficult time by "keeping in touch" and offering advice over the telephone to help you keep well, feel less isolated and more connected to your community.

If you don't have any family or neighbourhood support or know another older person who could benefit from a "keeping in touch" telephone call, contact Bridgend County Care and Repair on Tel: 01656 646755.

Address: Avon Court, Cowbridge Road, Bridgend CF31 3SR?
Email: enquiries@bridgendcareandrepair.co.uk
Web: www.careandrepair.org.uk

Diabetes UK.

Information for people with diabetes, including the impact of Covid-19: www.diabetes.org.uk/

Jobsense project (COS) (North Wales).

Following Government Guidelines all COS staff are home working, but are continuing to work with participants either by phone or video call.  WEFO have also relaxed the eligibility criteria during this period so we can continue to take referrals and sign up new participants to the programme.

Jobsense (South Wales).

Due to the recent Government guidelines and like many other organisations, the JobSense team have begun to work from home. We are still however fully operating our pre-employment support, with our phone lines and emails open to participants and new referrals. 

If you are aware of anyone using your services who would benefit from the support on JobSense, please do not hesitate to contact myself or my colleagues, who are taking on new referrals in the following areas;

Mutual aid groups.

Here's a searchable list of Mutual Aid Groups. Find your local groups.

EYE CARE SERVICES.

Welsh Government has issued the following advice to eye care professionals:

Low Vision Service Wales.

Welsh Government has taken the difficult decision to suspend the Low Vision Service until further notice in order to try to shield their vulnerable patient group. If patients or stakeholders have any particular queries, contact the Service Manager on 01267 248794 or by email: Donna.Martin@wales.nhs.uk

Optometric practices.

Practices open during the coronavirus outbreak.

The list can be found here: http://www.eyecare.wales.nhs.uk/coronavirus-information

Welsh Government have advised all optometric practices that they are to cease delivery of routine sight tests and other local and national services, including domiciliary work. However, if a patient attends with what is determined to be the need for an 'essential' consultation, they will be able to see the patient. An example would be the need for a repair of spectacles.

Low Vision Services have also been stopped but again, always a good idea to visit your optician (optometrist) and just speak to them about any problems or concerns you might be having. Your optician (optometrist) will, where they can, want to help and they can see you if they deem it to be 'essential' to your ability to function etc. Welsh Government have asked health boards to support local practices to ensure that where safe, services that you might have to access can be delivered.

If you have any queries, contact Sali Davis, CEO, Optometry Wales on 01443 400796 or email Salidavis@optometrywales.com

TRANSPORT

Transport for Wales guidance

https://tfwrail.wales/covid-19

First Cymru

https://www.firstgroup.com/south-west-wales/news-and-service-updates/coronavirus-covid19-service-information

Arriva Buses

https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/coronavirus/

Cardiff Bus

https://www.cardiffbus.com/coronavirus

Traveline Cymru

https://www.traveline.cymru/coronavirus/

Guide Dogs advice for taxi and minicab drivers.

Guide Dogs have prepared advice on how to work with customers who are blind and partially-sighted.

Uber

Uber has issued the following useful advice to customers, which equally applies to other providers:

The most important thing you can do right now is stay at home unless absolutely necessary - this is especially critical if you're feeling unwell. This will help slow down and limit the spread of the virus.

If you must travel, keep the wellbeing of your driver in mind by following the guidance below:

When taking rides:

More advice from Uber is at https://www.uber.com/gb/en/coronavirus/

DRIVE Taxis

DRIVE taxis in Cardiff are offering FREE local shopping trips for the elderly and vulnerable. All drivers are DBS checked and extreme care will be taken when interacting and delivering those much-needed essentials. Telephone 02920 140140.

Dragon Taxis.

https://www.dragontaxis.com/covid-19/

TECHNOLOGY

British Wireless for the Blind Fund.

BWBF provides a range of specially adapted audio equipment including DAB/FM radios, USB (memory stick) players, CD players and more, all designed to make it simpler for someone living with sight loss to use.  The equipment is given free of charge to those who meet BWBF’s criteria. 

Ordinarily, this equipment would be delivered to the recipients’ homes by a BWBF volunteer who would install and provide training to the recipient. However, due to social distancing, this is no longer an option. Therefore, the charity have launched BWBF Connect – a modified version of the standard service which will see the charity adapt how it supports its beneficiaries, many of which are vulnerable and isolated, especially during these challenging times.

The BWBF Connect service allows the recipient to receive their chosen piece of audio equipment via a doorstep delivery.  Further ongoing telephone support is offered to the recipient to ensure that they have successfully received, unpackaged and installed the equipment.

If you or someone you know is interested in receiving a device, please contact BWBF on:

Connect by Tech.

Would you like to get more out of being online? Macular Society Connect by Tech is a brand new service to help people make the most of things like tablets, smartphones and smart speakers to stay connected.

They can help you do the things you want to do, or help if you are curious about trying. Perhaps it’s a video call, joining a chat group, online shopping, finding health advice, exercise ideas or listening to the latest best-seller. Just let them know what you want to do and one of their friendly volunteers will be in touch to help.

Email your name, and what you would like to be able to do to techtalk@macularsociety.org or call Advice & Information Line on 0300 3030 111.

Tech support from Sight Cymru.

Sight Cymru offers technology support and equipping people to do zoom calls on all types of devices including those with synaptic. The demand for this has increased and so we are doing what we could to support people in reaching their loved ones virtually where possible.

Dolphin

To ensure their customers have all the help and support they need now and in the coming months, Dolphin has put together a series of video trainings, phone-ins and live action webinars.

If you're not technical, you just need to be able to make a phone call. And if you're a little more computer or app savvy, they've got webinars and online meetings.

Browse the complete list or find out more at: www.YourDolphin.com/webinars. Their support and sales teams are all open and fully operational. Call 01905 754 577 or email dave.salisbury@yourdolphin.com.

Be My Eyes

The 'Be My Eyes' app is reminding vi people that their volunteers are available to help: https://www.bemyeyes.com/

Be My Eyes is a free app that connects blind and partially sighted people to sighted volunteers for visual assistance through a live video call. The app is available on iOS and Android devices.

SUPERMARKETS
Measures in place to assist elderly and disabled people.

Iceland

The first hour of each trading day will be reserved for vulnerable and elderly customers only.

Iceland store locator

ASDA

Corona statement

Asda store Locator

Sainsbury's

Sainsbury's have reserved the first hour of opening every Thursday for elderly and vulnerable customers only to ensure they do not miss out on essentials. They will also help elderly and vulnerable customers access food online. From Monday, 23rd March, their online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots.

Tesco

Tesco is prioritising one hour every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning between 9am-10am for vulnerable and elderly customers (except for their Express stores).

Essential food for shielding letter recipients.

Those who have been sent a letter instructing them to stay home for 12 weeks can receive a weekly delivery of essential food items if they are unable to access support from friends or family. Contact your local authority hub to organise this (information via the local support links).

For those who have not been categorised as 'extremely vulnerable', Welsh Government advises that you should contact your local authority hub to organise support from volunteers: https://www.wlga.wales/welsh-local-authority-links

Supermarket gift cards.

Supermarket gift cards are being used as a good payment alternative for those who are doing shopping for others. People are able to purchase a gift card online (or over the phone in some cases) and then receive physical or electronic gift cards to give to the person who is shopping for them. This helps with the problem of getting cash out and the volunteer having to handle cash. This service is available from ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco (in-store purchase only).

Home delivery service from Co-op.

The Co-op is offering a vulnerable person’s home delivery service. Call: 03300 417784

Cash withdrawals via Post Office Ask-a-Friend scheme extended.

The Post Office has extended its Ask-a-Friend scheme to allow people who may be shielding or self-isolating to authorise a trusted person to withdraw cash for them. More at the BBC site: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52229698

Advice to retailers on serving blind and partially-sighted people.

https://www.rnib.org.uk/sites/default/files/APDF-Supportingblindandpartiallysightedshoppers.pdf

BENEFITS

Disability benefits have been affected due to the coronavirus outbreak. The following information has been announced by the Department for Work and Pensions:

All face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for at least three months, effective from 17th March 2020. This will affect new claims for, and existing claimants of, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), those on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), some on Universal Credit, and people who receive Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. If you have a face-to-face assessment appointment scheduled from 17th March onwards, you do not need to attend and you will be contacted to discuss the next steps and alternative arrangements. Further updates will be available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/face-to-face-health-assessments-for-benefits-suspended-amid-coronavirus-outbreak

The DWP is continuing to accept new claims for all benefits. Anyone already receiving PIP, ESA, Universal Credit or Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, will continue to receive their current payments as normal while alternative arrangements are put in place to review or reassess their claim. You now have more time to complete and return your form. 

Personal Independent Payments

Website: https://www.gov.uk/pip/how-to-claim

Personal Independent Payments Enquiry Line: 0800 121 4433

Some information here: Temorary Changes to PIP

Attendance Allowance

Website: https://www.gov.uk/attendance-allowance

Attendance Allowance Enquiry Line: 0800 731 0122

Disability Living Allowance (if you are under 16)

https://www.gov.uk/disability-living-allowance-children

Disability Living Allowance Enquiry Line: 0800 121 4600

OTHER RESOURCES

Direct Payments.

If you are worried about how Covid-19 affects your Direct Payments, check the following links:

English: https://socialcare.wales/service-improvement/flexible-use-of-direct-payments-during-the-pandemic

Cymraeg: https://gofalcymdeithasol.cymru/gwella-gwasanaethau/defnyddio-taliadau-uniongyrchol-mewn-ffordd-hyblyg-yn-ystod-y-pandemig

For information, here are the generic direct payments web pages:

English: https://socialcare.wales/service-improvement/direct-payments-a-guide

Cymraeg: https://gofalcymdeithasol.cymru/gwella-gwasanaethau/taliadau-uniongyrchol-canllaw

Sight Advice information

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

Survivors' Network

Great list of resources:

https://survivorsnetwork.org.uk/online-resources-available-during-social-distancing-and-self-isolation/

Government support for charities

The Government is looking at how they can support charities during the Coronavirus outbreak. For further information, visit their website: government-in-talks-with-voluntary-sector-to-offset-covid-19-effects

Job retention.

Information for employers who need to claim for their employees’ wages:

UTILITIES.

Western Power Distribution: How to register for a priory service if you are medically dependent on electricity or vulnerable.

A page on Money Saving Expert listing the help with pre-paid cards and keys for energy.

Welsh Water advice and help: https://www.dwrcymru.com/en/helpform.aspx

Council Tax.

With Wales having a disproportionately high increase in Council Tax comared to the rest of the UK, some people may find it difficult to make payments during the outbreak. We shall link to support as it emerges here. Meanwhile: what-if-the-coronavirus-outbreak-means-you-cant-pay/

Pembrokeshire: Western Telegraph article.

CRIME, DOMESTIC ABUSE AND FRAUD.

Domestic Abuse surveys.

Live Fear Free.

The Live Fear Free Helpline offers support to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Welsh Women's Aid offers a National Helpline for Wales and supports women, men and children. They are acutely aware that the period of social isolation when victim and perpetrator are possibly in the same property 24/7 is exacerbating what may already be a volatile situation. The service is bilingual and they can also offer the services of Language Line if required:

Llinell Gymorth Byw Heb Ofn / Live Fear Free Helpline 0808 80 10 800

Di-dâl. Ar agor 24 awr / Freephone. Open 24 hours.

Hate crime.

If you are a victim of a hate crime, or witness one, contact:

Phone: 0300 3031 982
e-mail: Hate.CrimeWales@victimsupport.org.uk
Web: https://www.reporthate.victimsupport.org.uk/

Online Scams.

Remember that banks generally do not message you about payments. Don't click on messages claiming to be from banks. Check this web page for advice on avoiding scams: moneyadviceservice.

Information about a current online scam, which claims to be a bank notifying you of an unpaid bill: actionfraud.police.uk

Staying safe from fraud - Coronavirus phishing scams

The following information has been provided by Gwent Police Cyber Crime Team:

There have been reports of fake Coronavirus emails and text messages being received. These messages claim to be from official sources for example, the HMRC or World Health Organisation. They claim to offer safety advice, tax refunds or similar, but include malicious web links or attachments. Whether a message is received by a phone call, text or email, to help avoid these scams:

  • Do not give out your personal or financial information
  • Do not click on attachments or web links
  • Do not use any contact information in the message itself
  • Verify via your own trusted method.

People are also being urged to be vigilant about other scams offering help with Universal Credit, malicious software sent via fake emails and text messages that can encrypt and lock your device, and emails, texts or calls purporting to be from HMRC and Microsoft.

You can report fraud and cyber-crime to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. For further information, visit their website: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk

National Trading Standards has issued advice to avoid scams:

https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/news/beware-of-covid19-scams/

North Wales Police advice: advice-and-support/fraud/what-is-fraud/

Voice message in Swansea Bay spreading false information.

Swansea Bay NHS has become aware of some scaremongering falsehoods circulating in a voice message. The field hospitals being built in the Swansea Bay area, and all over the UK, are there to help support the main hospitals which don't have the capacity to deal with the numbers of patients coming their way in the next few weeks.

Please disregard the nonsense being spouted in this irresponsible voice message.

If you want to find out the facts about Swansea Bay's field hospitals, go here: https://sbuhb.nhs.wales/news/swansea-bay-health-news/work-begins-on-two-field-hospitals-for-swansea-and-neath-port-talbot/

If you want to know more about the rest of the things being done to prepare for COVID-19 across all their hospitals, go here: https://sbuhb.nhs.wales/news/swansea-bay-health-news/swansea-bay-gets-ready-for-covid-19/

Contact:

This page is being maintained by Richard Bowers: richard@wcb-ccd.org.uk. Please send updates and corrections to him.