Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 5th May 2020 SEND Special

1.    SEND service changes and COVID-19 support:

Lifetime ServiceSirona care & health, Children’s Hospice South West and Jessie May are working together to meet the urgent and essential needs of the families that we care for through this challenging time.  The first priority is to ensure that children remain cared for and supported in the community wherever possible and appropriate. From 11 April, a dedicated telephone number offering 24/7 access to advice and support from a nurse with hospice/community care experience has been provided to families directly.

Speech and Language Therapy – Some regular clinical activities are paused until further notice.  This includes:

Early Years Advice Drop ins

  • Training Sessions
  • Group therapy sessions and support groups
  • All school based activities.

Telephone advice and information services:

There are now dedicated telephone advice and information services, including the following specifically for SEN and Disabled children and young people.

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Bristol and S. Glos: call 0300 125 6207 or 0300 125 6206.
  • Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, all areas: 07917 393196
  • Specialist Community Paediatrics, Bristol and S. Glos.:  01454 865190
  • Speech and Language Therapy, Bristol and S. Glos.: 07825 016335

 These phone lines will run until further notice, and will be staffed from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. For health information and advice about coronavirus, please go to the NHS 111 website in the first instance.

2.    Coronavirus (COVID-19): Special Educational Needs and Disabilities update for parents

To find out about a range of service updates, click here: covid-19-special-educational-needs-and-disabilities-update-for-parents

3.    Council and CCG response to the OFSTED and CQC Reports on SEND provision in Bristol

The Council and CCG have released the details of how they plan to address the weaknesses of SEND provision for the people of Bristol, along with written evidence that their proposals have been accepted.

You can find full details, and more information at:

4.    Coronavirus (COVID-19) and related resources for SEND children and young people

Contact – Information for families with disabled childrenInformation about coronavirus and helpful resources for families with Disabled children.
Bristol Royal Hospital for Children – Easy read information about coronavirusEasy read for children and young people with disabilities of learning difficulties .
Book Island – Picture books on VimeoAward-winning Bristol based publisher of picture books
    Bristol Autism Team – Preparing for more time at home      Tips for parents of children with autism for spending more time at home
Bristol Autism Team – Tips for supporting children with autismAdvice on supporting children emotionally and practically.
Bristol Educational Psychology Service – Improving concentration at homeStep-by-step guide on improving concentration for the whole family.

If you have trouble reading section 4, you can access more information on what’s available at:

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Coronavirus Update Monday 4th May 2020 – Local Update

  No VAT on PPE – for now

From 30th April, PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 are free from VAT for a three-month period [link].

Bristol Ageing Better Support Hub

Bristol Ageing Better has launched a new Support Hub for older people and their families to cope with the impact of Covid-19 in Bristol. They provide a range of practical, emotional and social support. The Support Hub has been developed by a partnership of several voluntary organisations that already work to support older people in Bristol [link].

Need cheering up?

Belly Laughs at home will be a night of Bristol-based comedy raising money for four good causes on Sunday 10 May [link].

COVID-19 testing

The Council has also written to Direct Payment recipients to ensure their personal assistants can access testing if they meet the criteria, thanks to Bristol Disability Equality Forum’s influencing work.

“Last week we had a question from Laura Welti of Bristol Disability Equality Forum with reference to Personal Assistants being added to the key worker list.  I’m very happy to tell you that, following a conversation between myself and Sally Hogg, we can confirm that Personal Assistants are now on that list for testing. …….. thank you, Laura.”. (Sandra Meadows, Voscur CEO).

Worried about a vulnerable person’s safety?

While we all stay home across Bristol, we need to look out for children and vulnerable adults, including elderly people, who may be harmed in their homes.  If you are worried about someone you know, we encourage you to tell someone so they can get the right help.  If a child or adult is at immediate risk of harm call the police on 999.

Help for children:

If you are worried about a child’s safety, you can call Bristol’s Children and Families Services on 0117 903 6444 for advice, support, or let them know about a child you are concerned for.

If you want to speak to someone anonymously about any worries you have for a child, you can call the NSPCC 24 hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or text 88858

Childline continues to run their services for children who want someone to talk to at this time, including online chat.

Help for adults:

Next Link provides support services, and can help arrange emergency accommodation, for women and girls who have experienced domestic or sexual abuse. You can speak to someone on live chat or by calling 0117 925 0680.

Support for male victims of domestic abuse is available from Victim Support on 07432  504 692 or email: bristolmens.dasupport@victimsupport .

National domestic abuse 24 hour helpline: 0808 200 0247

If you are concerned an adult may be being neglected or abused call Bristol’s Care Direct on 0117 922 2700.

Testing in care homes

When the Forum, asked how we can possibly get an accurate picture on the number of COVID-19 deaths in the city, when hardly anyone in care homes is tested – even if they have COVID-19 systems, Sally Hogg, from Public Health said:

“This week testing is now going to be available to everyone in care homes, staff and residents, so we will soon have a much better picture of what is happening”.

This is good to hear as it is highly likely that a high number of the deaths of Disabled people are completely hidden because, until now, only the first two people in a care home who develop symptoms were tested – no matter how many others in the care home became ill, or died.

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How are you experiencing the COVID-19 outbreak? BDEF Survey

How are you experiencing the
COVID-19 Outbreak?

We are asking you to complete this survey so we can make sure that Disabled people are getting their needs met and being treated fairly. We will use the information to negotiate any improvements that are needed with local councils and the NHS locally. 

Thank you for completing this survey. We will use the findings to make sure you get the support you need, and to prioritise what support we offer at this difficult time.

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Services being offered by Brigstowe

Information taken directly from Brigstowe May 2020 E-Bulletin

Telephone Befriending
Not having someone to talk to regularly can be lonely, particularly at a time like this. During the COVID-19 situation Brigstowe will be offering a  telephone befriending service where one of our trained volunteers can chat with you on the phone weekly.  
Hearing a friendly voice can make all the difference in times like these. The befriender will check in with you, see how you are getting on & provide you information on support available if you need it.

Hardship Grant
In recognition of the financial impact that COVID-19 is having on many of our clients, Brigstowe has set up a Hardship Fund to assist clients with the following needs:

  • Mobile Bundles (including internet data)
  • Computer, tablet or smartphone
  •  Other urgent needs (excluding rent)

Many factors will be taken into consideration when awarding the grants including level  of income, level of isolation and the need for an internet    connection.  We have limited funds available and therefore we may not be able to assist everyone who asks for help.

The decision of Brigstowe is final and there will be no right of appeal.

For more information on either of these services or if you, or someone you know, require any form of support please contact your Support Worker in the usual way, call the Office on: 0117 955 5038 or drop us an email on:

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COVID-19 Update 30th April 2020

1.          Care Homes

You will probably have heard on the news that people in care homes are at high risk of catching COVID-19.

We have been lobbying the Council about not discharging people from hospital into a care home while they are assessed about what support they need to return to their own home, since the start of the COVID-19 Lockdown.  

We have been saying that care homes are high risk places and that patients should not be discharged to them, because it creates a further risk for those who already live there, and for those being sent there.

Perhaps now that national figures show we were right, and that there are no less than 35 care services in Bristol with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases, they will listen to us.

2.          Council supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment) supplies for your PAs or carer[s]

We are getting different feedback on the difficulty of getting PPE supplies if you employ your own PAs e.g. you’re on Direct Payments, or are supported by one or more carers. 

We want to collect evidence about how well the system is, or isn’t, working.  To do this we need to know about your experience so can you please answer the following questions and forward the to us:


Post: Bristol DEF, St. Paul’s Learning Centre, Grosvenor Rd, Bristol BS2 8XJ

Text only: 07810 506730


Twitter: BDEFbites

Instagram: BDEFbites

a. Have you asked the Council for PPE supplies for your PAs or carer[s]?

b. Have you received them yet?  

c. If the answer is Yes, how long did it take to get them?

d. If the answer is No, how long have you been waiting?

Please send us your answers by Friday 8th May 2020.

3.          Employ your own PAs?

Bristol City Council have said they are writing to Direct Payment recipients to ensure their personal assistants can access testing if they meet the criteria e.g. they have symptoms of COVID-19.  

This has only happened because the Forum highlighted to the Council that PAs to people on Direct Payments need testing as much as care home workers.  The Council listened, and very quickly added PAs to the official list of who is a key worker.

The demand for testing has been very high so, if you have a PA who fits the criteria listed in the letter, or you do yourself, book your slot as soon as the letter arrives.

4.    Hours reduced, redundancy, furloughed and qualify for Universal Credit?

The Council’s Future Bright employment support programme, funded by the DWP and WECA has expanded its eligibility to include 1 to 1 support, not only for those who are in work and claiming benefits to get by, but to now include:

–   Those who have been made redundant, laid off or are at risk of redundancy, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic;

–   Employees whose hours have been significantly reduced, and who therefore have a lower income (e.g. zero hours, cut from full to part time);

–   Self-employed workers, where their ability to earn has been severely impacted due to the nature of their business;

–   Furloughed employees, if their reduced income means they are eligible for Universal Credit.

For further information contact or call 0117 9222250.

5.    Council-run cemeteries and crematoriums open again

Council-run cemeteries and crematoriums will be open again from Thursday 30 April.  BUT, this will be on restricted hours: 

  • from 4pm-8pm on weekday evenings and 
  • from 10am-6pm on weekends. 

They are only open to those who have friends/families whose remains are there, NOT for exercise.

Please respect these spaces for people to grieve and mourn their loved ones, and take your daily exercise in the parks.

6.    More funding for local authorities but nowhere near enough

Government has announced another £1.6billion funding for local councils.  In Bristol, that means we’ve received £13m so far, and are due to get approx. £12.5m from the latest announcement.

However, between the extra costs of dealing with COVID-19 and the lost income, the figures are:

£29m spent on additional social care and other costs;

£80m in lost revenue;

= £109m, 


£13m received previously, and

£12.5m due.

This means the Council has received £89.5m less than it needs, and this excludes the spending that will be needed to help people in Bristol recover financially from COVID-19.

So, if you have any influence at a national level, please do tell the government that, if more funding isn’t provided to local councils, there will be no money left to provide any local services by the time the pandemic has ended.

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Forum success in getting PAs listed as key workers

We’re delighted to announce that, thanks to our work with Bristol City Council, PAs to those Disabled or older people on a Direct Payment – or who’s income means they don’t qualify for financial help with their social care costs – are now officially listed as Key Workers.

This means that you/they can access the extra support that is only available for key workers e.g. getting PAs who think they might have COVID-19 tested, so that you can quickly find out if they can continue to support you or need to take time off.

We are also working to:

a. get more information provided in accessible communications e.g. by post as well as internet, in community languages, in Easy English, in other formats, and produced so it is accessible for everyone, regardless of impairment or literacy;

b. increase Disabled people’s access to essential PPE (personal protective equipment) for when someone has COVID-19;

c. keep you up-to-date on all local COVID-19 information that is useful to Disabled people;

d. stop people being discharged to care homes – at least until they stop being places with a very high risk of catching CVID-19.

If you are experiencing issues, as a Disabled person or elder with and age-related condition[s], that no-one seems to be addressing make sure you let us know. You can do this when you use our telephone support service, our daily, online (Zoom) meet-ups or by emailing

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Want to help test a vaccine?

People who live in some parts of Bristol can volunteer to take part in a coronavirus vaccine trial, which pays out £235 to each person.

The potential Covid-19 inoculation, developed at the University of Oxford, will be trialled on humans in the UK from tomorrow (April 23).

Bristol is one of only three areas where volunteers are currently being recruited, the others being London and Southampton.

To take part in Bristol, you must live in the BS1-6 or BS8 areas.

You must be healthy, aged from 18 to 55, and not pregnant or breastfeeding.

Volunteers must not have tested positive for Covid-19 or taken part in a previous trial with an adenoviral or coronavirus vaccine.

Participants will have four to 12 visits over a six-month period, with an optional extra visit one year after vaccination.

Participation is voluntary and people are free to change their mind and withdraw at any time.

Anyone looking to take part can find out how to apply here.

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Coronavirus ‘Good News’ Update 21st April 2020

1.      Missing the lack of a cultural life?

The Harbour Festival may be cancelled but not all music is lost!  Bristol DJs’ ‘virtual festival’ for the NHS is now online [link].

2.      Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The national Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme isofficially open, with businesses, charities and Direct Payments’ users able to claim 80% (up to £2,500 a month) towards the wage of each member of staff who has to be ‘laid off’ or who is unable to work for Coronavirus-related reasons.  Updated information can be found here.

3.      Having to work from home?

You may be able to claim tax relief for some of the bills you have to pay because you have to work at home on a regular basis.  You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.
You can only claim for things to do with your work, for example, business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity for your work area.
You cannot claim for things that you use for both private and business use, for example, rent or broadband access.
From 6 April 2020 your employer can pay you up to £6 a week (£26 a month) to cover your additional costs if you have to work from home. For previous tax years the rate is £4 a week (£18 a month). You can find out more and see if you are eligible on the government’s website.

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To Help with Inspiration and keep Spirits up.

To help with inspiration and to keep spirits up, here is some digitally accessible culture from Bristol City Council

Bristol Museums, A dose of culture from home
Watch theatre, music and dance shows at home during the COVID-19 pandemic (ongoing list) Culture to your couch: arts you can experience at home
How to explore the British Museum from home
Take a virtual tour of the National Gallery
Tate online displays
see Bansky’s street art, virtually

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