You can now help fight the spread of Coronavirus by downloading the free NHS Test and Trace App onto your smartphone .

The new NHS Covid-19 app for Apple and Android devices has launched today and can be downloaded from your app store. The app is free and is part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England and Wales.

The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in via QR codes.

The Thomas Poklinton Trust have been involved in ensuring that the app is as accessible as possible for blind and partially sighted people.

If you need access to information about the app in large print, braille or another format, you can request it by emailing nhscovid-19accessibilityissue@nhsba.nhs.uk .

The link below takes you to a BBC news story with more information.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-54270334

New Covid -19 information films in multiple community languages are now available

Covid-19 information videos in community languages including English http://ow.ly/tQF350BezGf

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG), with Community Access Support Service (CASS) in partnership with community groups and volunteers, has made two videos in more than ten community languages about Covid-19 and the lockdown.

These were made to address the need for information for non-English-speaking people in the community who did not have access to reliable information about the outbreak in their own languages.

The videos are:

• Protecting others – with a number of key messages about social distancing, gatherings, where you can go and so on

• Mental health – about looking after your mental health and wellbeing at this time.

The languages are:

Pashto, Kurdish Sorani, Arabic, Farsi, Albanian, Urdu, Bengali, Tigrinya, Somali, Punjabi, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Turkish [please note the videos in Albanian and Trigrinya are not available yet, so any help to find volunteers in both languages would be appreciated].

We hope these videos are helpful and that you will share them with relevant members of the community.

CASS has been working closely with @BNSSG_CCG and local volunteers to help create 2 Covid19 videos, each in Bristol’s key community languages including English. One is on Protecting Yourself, and one on Looking after Mental Health. 

Please watch and share more widely  http://ow.ly/tQF350BezGf

Translated text used for the videos will be available shortly, please get in touch via info@cassbristol.org to request hard copy printed materials for distribution out into the community.

Coronavirus Update’s: New Coronavirus information videos in multiple languages & Free counseling from Bristol Mind are now available.

Coronavirus News 5th September 2020

1. Coronavirus information in community languages

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) – which is responsible for spending our local NHS funding – has created coronavirus information videos in a range of community languages, such as Arabic, Bengali and Cantonese. You can find them on its YouTube channel by clicking on this: coronavirus information in community languages to find a video in your language – including English. One is about how to Protecting Yourself, and one is about Looking after Mental Health.

Translations of the text used for the videos will be available soon. If you would like please get in touch viainfo@cassbristol.orgto request hard copy printed materials for distribution out into the community.

2. Free counselling from Bristol Mind

Free counselling is available to people who are shielding as a result of the pandemic, particularly those who are:

older or Disabled people;

part of a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic community; or

living in Avonmouth, Barton Hill, East Hillfields, Filwood, Hartcliffe & Withywood, Knowle West, Lawrence Hill, Lawrence Weston, Lockleaze, Southmead, St. Pauls, or Whitchurch Park.

The service is available from September to December 2020. You can self-refer, or be referred by a family member or an organisation you are in touch with. Email counselling@bristolmind.org.uk, or telephone 01179 800 370, to be sent a registration form. 

For more information on this service, go to: http://bristolmind.org.uk/

Coronavirus Update: Social gatherings of more than six people will be banned from Monday 14 September


Stop Press Social gatherings of more than six people will be banned from Monday 14 September

Limits on the number of people you can see socially are changing.  From Monday 14 September, when meeting friends and family you do not live with you must not meet in a group of more than 6 indoors or outdoors.

From 14 September – when the new rules apply – it will be against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble).  The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines.

There will be exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people, including: – where everyone lives together or is in the same support bubble, or to continue existing arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parent;- at work, and voluntary or charitable services;

  1. – in education, training, or registered childcare;
  2. – a wide range of formal, organised activities.

Please visit this website for more details of when the new rule does, and doesn’t apply: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing/coronavirus-covid-19-meeting-with-others-safely-social-distancing
The government will be providing more information on the changes on Monday 14th September.
However, please do not get too anxious about the rise in the number of cases.  For now, the new cases are mostly among young people and those who have travelled, with the number of deaths still low.

Shaping Our Lives: New Covid19 survey

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A second survey request from Shaping Our Lives, this time about using technology during the pandemic.

Shaping Our Lives has been given some money from the National Lottery Community Fund to do research about the impacts of the Covid19 pandemic. This, their second survey, is about using technology for keeping in touch, having meetings and appointments during the Covid19 pandemic and lockdown.

During the Covid19 pandemic many appointments, meetings and leisure activities have taken place remotely. Shaping Our Lives want to find out if remote communication technology is a good way for you to take part or receive a service. Or, if remote ways of communicating are difficult or impossible for you to use.

Shaping Our Lives would be very grateful if you answer a short survey. This survey is only for d/Deaf and Disabled people. Disabled people are people with sensory, cognitive, neurodevelopmental conditions, learning disabilities or physical impairments, mental health issues and people with long term health conditions.

You will not be asked to give your name and all answers will be kept anonymous. What you and other people tell Shaping Our Lives will then be used to tell people in national and local government the support d/Deaf and Disabled people need to use remote communication technology and if it is suitable all the time.

To complete the survey you can either:

  1. Use this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Technology_Survey-Shaping_Our_Lives-Covid19 to complete your answers online.
  2. Send an email to: information @shapingourlives.org.uk and we can send a Word version of the survey for you to complete.
  3. Call Becki on 07956 424511 and do the survey over the telephone or by Zoom.

The survey will take about 15 minutes. There is no involvement payment offered for completing this survey. This is a different survey to the one Shaping Our Lives recently launched about the impact of Covid19 on Independent Living and we would like people to complete both surveys if possible.

Thank you for taking part and contributing to this research.

The Law on Face Coverings Changes, Again

On Friday 24th July it became law that people (shoppers, etc) must wear face coverings that cover the nose and mouth – for example, a fabric covering, scarf or bandanna – in a lot more indoor places.

This is as well as washing our hands and being careful to social distance.

  1. Where Do We Have to Wear a Face Covering?

Face Coverings must now be worn in:

  1. shops,
  2. supermarkets,
  3. shopping centres,
  4. when buying food and drink to take away from cafes and shops, and
  5. public transport hubs e.g. indoor train stations and terminals, airports, sea and river ports, and indoor bus and coach stations or terminals.

We must also keep on wearing face coverings in hospitals and when we are travelling on public transport: trains, buses and coaches.

2. Where Don’t We Have to Wear a Face Covering?

You won’t have to wear a face covering in the following venues that have measures in place to protect staff and the public from COVID-19. These include:

  1. hairdressers and close-contact services,
  2. eat-in restaurants, cafes and pubs (but you will in cafes or take-away restaurants when you aren’t going to eating there),
  3. entertainment venues, including cinemas, concert halls and theatres,
  4. visitor attractions (such as heritage sites, art galleries or museums),
  5. gyms and leisure centres,
  6. dentists or opticians (but you do need to wear them in hospitals).

3. Who Doesn’t Have to Wear a Face Covering?

The new law doesn’t apply to children under the age of 11 or anyone who can prove their health or impairment[s] means they cannot wear a face covering. This includes people:

  1. with impairments or health conditions that make it really difficult to breathe, or other conditions seriously affecting heart or lungs,
  2. who can’t put on a face covering due to conditions affecting their ability to use their hands/arms (dexterity),
  3. with a condition or impairment that means wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress,
  4. with cognitive impairments, including learning difficulties and dementia, if they would not understand or remember the need to wear a face covering,
  5. with vision impairments that include a restricted field of vision, that means they can only see at the lower edge of the normal field of view,
  6. with any other impairments which would make it difficult to put on or take off a face covering safely, accurately, consistently or without pain,
  7. travelling with, or being a support worker or carer to, someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.

But, people are going to get quite confused because the new law also doesn’t apply to shop or supermarket staff. The government do strongly recommend that employers think seriously about making their staff wear face coverings but the law doesn’t say they must.

Face Coverings must be worn in all shops from this Friday (24 July)

 In order to help protect you and your loved ones from the spread of coronavirus, from this Friday (24 July), nearly everyone must wear a face covering in shops and supermarkets as well as on public transport and NHS buildings.  It’s the law.


By face coverings the government means coverings, such as cloth masks, scarves and bandanna.  They are asking that people do not wear medical grade PPE masks, unless they work in the NHS, a Care Home or provide intimate personal care to someone in their own home.


A few people won’t have to wear a face covering.  These are: children under 11 and some people with a physical or mental impairment or disability that includes:-   people who can’t put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability;-   if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress;-   if you need to to eat or drink or to take medication; or-   if you are shopping with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip-reading to communicate.”

To promote the changes Bristol City Council will be launching a campaign called Are You Covered? 

Council staff including the Mayor, cabinet members and the Director of public Health, will be handing out free masks to the public in Broadmead, The Galleries, Cabot Circus and the Bus Station on Friday.

Please support the campaign on social media by looking out for and using the hashtag #AreYouCovered?

And please remember to use a mask, social distance and stay safe.”

Coronavirus Update 9th July 2020

Coronavirus Update 9th July 2020

Are you starting to find the relentless number of updates and changes from government a bit mind-numbing?  We are!

We hope that you find our ‘round-up’ of developments a better way to keep up-to-date with what’s going on.  If not, please let us know what you would rather we did instead, by emailing bristoldef@gmail.com

1. Tourist Centre opens

Bristol’s Tourist Information Centre has reopened in its new home – the Galleries in Broadmead, opposite Peacocks & Edinburgh Woollen Mills.  The centre is for visitors and locals alike, and offers everything from help with bus timetables to souvenirs and gifts. 

2. Chancellor’s new economic measures to support the UK’s economic recovery and reduce levels of unemployment in the coming months

This includes: 

  1. Cutting VAT from the current rate of 20% to 5% for the next six months, on food, accommodation and attractions.  The cut lasts from Wednesday 8 July until 12 January 2021.
  1.  A new jobs retention bonus: businesses will be paid £1,000 to retain furloughed staff.  Sunak stated that this would cost the Treasury more than £9bn if every job furloughed is protected.

3. Majority of children no longer need to shield: 

The government has announced that the majority of children currently considered extremely clinical vulnerable to coronavirus will be able to be removed from the shielded patient list [link].  

However, the child’s GP or consultant will discuss the matter with the child and their family or carer before any decision is made about whether the child needs to continue shielding, or not. 

The latest shielding guidance was updated on 7 July [link]

4. More professional sports and culture start up again

The Culture Secretary has announced agreements to allow selected sporting events and production on film and television to get underway safely [link]. 

These agreements mean that international cricket, Champions League and Europa League football, the PGA British Masters Championship and the World Snooker Championships can all take place.  Other major darts, horse racing and other sporting events are also expected to follow. 

Don’t expect to buy any tickets to watch them though – only those people essential to staging these events, including the sports stars, event officials, coaches, medics, mechanics and incoming members of the media will be able to take part – so, still no live audiences allowed!

Also, indoor gyms, nail bars and swimming pools are still closed, mass gatherings are still prohibited, and social distancing is still essential.

5. VAT on PPE supplies

PPE will stay free of VAT until the end of October [link].  The decision comes after a temporary zero-rate of VAT was applied to PPE sales for an initial three months from 1st May 2020 to 31st July 2020.

6. Other VAT changes

VAT on food, accommodation and attractions will be cut from the current rate of 20% to 5% for the next six months.  The cut lasts from Wednesday 8th July until 12th January 2021.

The government has done this help prevent some hospitality businesses (those providing cafes, restaurants, hotels and other tourism services, etc) from having to close down.

Don’t Blame Care Homes, Boris

The Prime Minister has caused outrage by claiming that care homes didn’t follow the correct procedures.

This is not the first time a government has refused to take responsibility for its actions: it is a habit that has got even worse over the past 12yrs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tried to reduce the amount of criticism about his comment without any apology or admission that the responsibility is 100% that of government. Why do we say this? Because:

– the government told the NHS to move everyone who didn’t absolutely have to be in hospital into a care home while they recovered from whatever had led to the going into hospital in the first place;

– it was the government that failed to start a programme of testing from the very start of the pandemic;

– it was the government that failed to provide PPE supplies to care homes, despite the known difficulties individual people and individual businesses were having in getting hold of these supplies, until after many people in care homes had died.

We must not let government get away with refusing to accept responsibility by shifting blame to others. So email or tweet your local MP, and the Prime Minister, demanding that government accepts responsibility and, at the very least, apologies tfor causing the deaths of so many Disabled and older people.

You can find contact details for your MP and government at: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP and email the Prime Minister at: boris.johnson.mp@parliament.uk.

Don’t delay – Do it today!