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

Coronavirus News In Brief 28th April 2020

Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims

This week saw the start of Ramadan.  We would like to express our sympathy with Bristol’s Muslim communities, who are not able to come together during Ramadan, as they usually would, because of the Coronavirus lockdown. 

Wishing you successful, virtual, daily breaking of fast and Iftars.  Ramadan Mubarak to all.

Getting Food during Lockdown

National Food Service is one such organisation. They are currently doing important work providing nutritious cooked meals to those who need them at this time of crisis, this week delivering 1208 meals across Bristol – a 30% increase on last week.

As demand increases, NFS is looking for volunteer drivers to help with deliveries of food and also people to run their phone lines.  If you think you can help with either of these roles please email

If you or anyone you know in Bristol needs access to food please call them on 0117 325 0450

Coronavirus info in BSL:


The Brislington Park & Ride will resume service between 7:00am and 6:00pm from 27th April 2020.  It will work in unison with the Number 39 service to provide a half-hourly service on the Bath Road.

Don’t Get Fooled!

We are now starting to see an increase in online scams and we would ask you to be careful about emails that claim to be:

  • from the government, offering a tax rebate and asking for your bank details;
  • investment scheme and trading advice, encouraging you to capitalise on the coronavirus downturn;
  • from the World Health Organisation (WHO), with crucial coronavirus safety advice;
  • from a research group that mimics the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO;
  • from the council, offering a council tax refund;
  • from the council, asking for bank details in order to get free school meal vouchers.

Opening attachments or links in these emails could let scammers access your device and personal details, or follow your movements online.  You should always be careful when opening emails from people you don’t know and never give your bank details to people you don’t know.  

More information is available on the council’s scams and overpricing webpage.

Priority Services Register

Have you registered as someone who needs a priority service from the local energy distributor?  In this area Western Power Distribution (WPD) provides our electricity, regardless of which company you buy your electricity from.

This is for people who have essential electric aids or medical equipment in the home e.g. stair lift, automatic door opener, hoist, breathing equipment, etc.  It highlights your need for priority support should there be a power cut.

If you have already registered, you will want to know that WPD is offering extra support, to those who need it, due to the coronavirus outbreak.  As part of this service, they are working with local community partners to deliver support such as food services, friendly calls and energy saving advice. Please contact them via the below methods if you would be interested in such support.

Call: 0800 096 3080


If you haven’t registered yet, do so as soon as you can.  You never know when you might need the extra support they are obliged to provide, during an electricity failure.

See here for further information.

Energy advice and support

Because of the lockdown, many people are spending much more time at home, resulting in increased heating and electricity bills.  This is an extra cost that some people can’t easily afford, but it is also good for the environment to lower the amount of energy your home uses.

If this sounds like you, you will be pleased to know that the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) are offering support to vulnerable residents by providing advice on energy, money, benefits and carrying out home repairs.
CSE’s WHAM (which stands for Warmer Homes, Advice and Money) service is funded by Bristol City Council to help lower your energy bills and make your home safe, secure and warm.  You can get support and find out more about the offer on CSE’s website or by calling the WHAM team on 0800 082 2234.

Paid Parental or Adoption Leave

Furloughed workers planning to take paid parental or adoption leave will be entitled to pay based on their usual earnings rather than a furloughed pay rate.

Entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay, as well as the other forms of Parental or Adoption Pay, are currently based on someone’s average earnings over an 8-week assessment period.  For Maternity Allowance, entitlement and the rate paid is also determined by looking at average earnings over a 13-week period.

The government has changed this, for workers on furlough.  From 25th April they will be assessed on their usual, full pay.

The changes will ensure those intending to take time off following the birth, adoption, or death of a child will not see their entitlement to pay affected as a result of being furloughed in the wake of the impacts of COVID-19.

Laughter in Lockdown

Under the Laughter in Lockdown banner, the Bristol Slapstick Festival is releasing 10 years’ worth of previously unseen footage, including material from John Cleese, Eric Sykes and Tim Vine.
Bristol Slapstick Festival continues to release additional clips every week and you can find the full comedy list on their YouTube channel.

National Theatre Thursdays

The National Theatre is now broadcasting some of its most popular productions for free while the lockdown restrictions are in place.
The new National Theatre at Home programme will show a popular play every Thursday at 7:00pm and these will then be available on demand for seven days.  This week’s production is Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
For the full programme visit the National Theatre At Home webpage.

Enjoy your library from home

Keep yourself entertained while you stay at home by joining the library online.  Bristol Libraries has a wide variety of services online which are available to you from the comfort of your own home; from eBooks, audiobooks and eMagazines, to daily newspapers from around the world and even eComics.
There is something for all the family, with the library team now running a number of online events from children’s story time and quizzes, through to a virtual Lego club and a new podcast to keep younger family members busy.

UK Mental Health Helplines

With so much focus on physical health at the moment, it is equally important to look after our mental health and check in with those who are struggling. There is a lot of support out there for people who are in a crisis.

If you need immediate help:

In an emergency:

  • Call 999
  • Go to your local A&E department

If you’re in crisis and need to speak to someone:

  • Call NHS 111 (for when you need help but are not in immediate danger)
  • Contact your GP and ask for an emergency appointment
  • Contact the Samaritans 
  • Use the ‘Shout’ crisis text line – text SHOUT to 85258


Mind offers advice, support and information to people experiencing a mental health difficulty and their family and friends. Mind also has a network of local associations in England and Wales to which people can turn for help and assistance.

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm (except bank holidays). 

Rethink Mental Illness

Rethink Mental Illness works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, recover a better quality of life. It provides effective services and support and campaigns for change through greater awareness and understanding.

(Rethink was formerly called the National Schizophrenia Fellowship)


PAPYRUS is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide. They support young people under 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, as well as people concerned about someone else.

Open 10am-10pm on weekdays and 2pm-10pm on weekends and bank holidays


  • Parents helpline: 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 4pm)
  • YoungMinds Crisis Messenger: text YM to 85258

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

A helpline for men in the UK who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support.

5pm to midnight, every day of the year


SANE services provide practical help, emotional support and specialist information to individuals affected by mental health problems, their family, friends and carers.

  • Support Forum:
  • Saneline: 0300 304 7000 (local rate on BT landlines) Open 4:30-10:30pm every day

Off the Record (Bristol)


Bristol based Young Person’s Mental Health charity offering free and confidential emotional support and advice to anyone aged 11-25 (inclusive) living in the Bristol council area. Also offer free counselling, art therapy, groups and workshops on issues affecting young people. Training for professionals working with young people.

  • Mon 9.30am-7.30pm,
  • Tue 9.30am-8pm,
  • Wed 9.30am-8pm,
  • Thu 9.30am-7.30pm,
  • Fri 9.30am-5.30pm,
  • Sat 9.30am-3pm

Womankind – Bristol Women’s Therapy Centre

Helpline providing listening support for women experiencing mental health issues, women in distress and women suffering domestic abuse. The Team can help with issues including depression, anxiety, an acute crisis, rape, relationship difficulties, enduring problems arising from past physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Calls to the 0845 number will cost 5p per minute plus your telephone provider’s Access Charge. Calls are charged at local rate for landlines – please check costs with your telephone provider. Womankind also provides women in the Bristol area with free or affordable professional counselling, psychotherapy and on-going support.

Self Injury SupportOur services

Self Injury Helpline – 0808 800 8088

TuesdayWednesday andThursday  from 7pm – 9.30pm. 

Call us for free, confidential, non-judgemental emotional support around self-injury.

For more information click here.

TESS text and webchat support

Text us on 07537 432444. For Webchat, click on the box on this page.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7pm – 9.30pm.

For more information click here.

Confidential and anonymous helpline run by women offering emotional support, listening and signposting for women affected by self injury. Calls are not recorded and no personal information is passed on. Helpline number will not appear on telephone bills and is free to call from mobiles and landlines. Also run TESS text and email support for girls and young women up to 24 who self-injure. The Team aim to text back within half an hour and to email within 24 hours during opening times. Can also provide information and publications about self-injury, offer talks and self-injury training courses to professionals and support self-help groups. The Charity can also provide workbooks, information booklets and training packs for family members or supporters of people with learning difficulties. Maintain a UK-wide database of self harm support groups and organisations on website and run a monthly good practice ebulletin.

MindLine Trans+ 0300 330 5468

MindLine Trans+ is a confidential  emotional, mental health support helpline for people who identify as Transgender, Agender, Gender Fluid, Non-binary…

We are also here to support family members and friends and to provide signposting to other services and resources.

We are a national helpline, you can call us from anywhere in the UK.

The MindLine Trans+ provides a safe place to talk about your feelings confidentially. We don’t record calls nor ask for any personal details. Our listeners will try understand the multitude of feelings and concerns that may be going on for you. We are here to listen and offer our support.

We have volunteers with lived experience of Trans+ or are Allies responding to your calls as often as possible and are open 2 evenings a week Mondays and Fridays from 8pm to midnight.

Please feel free to download and share the MindLine Trans+ Flyer or visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for service updates.

Mental Health and Money Advice

For Mental Health and Money Concerns visit

NHS mental health services

Find information, advice and local services on the NHS website. You can also get advice from the NHS 111 phone service.

Bristol GWR Railway Upcoming Work

What’s happening?

On the weekends of Saturday 25 & 26 April and Saturday 2 & 3 May, we will be replacing sections of track on the large junction (‘Bristol East Junction’) just outside Bristol Temple Meads. This is the first bit of track work ahead of the full renewal of the junction, planned for summer 2021.

During the same two weekends, we will also be completing further drainage work alongside the railway line that runs between Bristol Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood station, and carrying out follow up work in the Pilning area, between Bristol and south Wales.

Working within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

Safety of our workers and the public, as well as preventing the spread of the virus, is paramount. We have been reassessing all planned work with Government guidelines in mind. All necessary steps are being taken to mitigate against the risk on site and enable our workers to continue with essential maintenance in line with current advice.

Travel advice

During the coronavirus outbreak, please only travel if it is essential.

If you do need to travel please bear in mind the following:

Weekends of 25 & 26 April and 2 & 3 May:
Coaches replace trains:

  • between Bristol Temple Meads and Newport/Cardiff Central (not calling at Bristol Parkway)
  • between Bristol Parkway and Newport

Low-floor buses will also run:

  • between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway
  • between Bristol Temple Meads and Clifton Down/Avonmouth/Severn Beach

A taxi will run between Bristol Parkway and Pilning (and back) on the Saturdays at 08.05 and 14.05.

Please check before you travel at or

Further details:

Please read the attached newsletter for updates on:

  • Bristol East Junction
  • Filton Bank drainage work
  • Bristol Portway station
  • Safety improvements at Bristol Temple Meads

Stay Safe and Secure from Fraudsters – Fraud Top Tips from Co-operative Bank

Unfortunately during these uncertain times, there are still some individuals who prey on others when they are most vulnerable. Thankfully Co-operative Bank have put together their top tips in order to protect yourselves from fraud!

Fraud top tips from Co-operative Bank

  • You will never be contacted by anyone to ask you to log into your online bank account to check if you have received a refund, or to return an overpayment – Never tell ANYONE your online banking verification codes, not even your banking provider!
  • Never agree to download software or an app onto your device.
  • You can contact a genuine company by using a trusted number from their website.•If you are unsure if a text message or phone call from your bank is genuine. Stop! Don’t panic, and contact your bank using the number on the back of your card, ideally using another telephone as the caller could try to stay on the line.

Impersonation Fraud

Fraudsters are using Coronavirus as a way of pretending to pose as genuine organisations that they know people look to for advice, such as banks, the police, government and even the World Health Organization (W.H.O). They’ll use bogus emails, phone calls, text messages and even social media posts to try and get you to disclose your personal or financial information. Don’t be pressured into doing something you’re not sure about, any legitimate requests will allow you to check it out.

Health Scams

Be wary of any texts or emails that look like they’re from trusted sources, like the W.H.O. who are asking you to open attachments or click on any links, as they may contain malware. Watch out for any advertising that promises to help combat or cure Coronavirus, from face masks to testing kits – If cures or help are available then it will be shared by the government or W.H.O. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Official Impersonations

Be vigilant to any ‘out of the blue’ contact either by text message or from a telephone call, especially those claiming to be from the police or fraud teams that ask you to move your money to another account. We would never ask you to do this. Do not respond to any calls, emails or texts from companies saying that your computer or internet may be compromised. If somebody calls you, no matter who they say they are, it’s important that you never agree to download an app or software on to your laptop, computer or mobile device. Especially if they then ask you to log in to your online banking accounts. Remember never tell ANYONE your online banking verification codes, not even us!

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

Do not respond to any emails, calls or texts from HMRC saying you’re owed a tax refund, or have an overdue tax bill. If you have any concerns contact HMRC directly, not by using any of the links and the telephone numbers in the email.

Visitors at your Home

Some fraudsters are even knocking on doors claiming to be from local health authorities, trying to collect donations, or good Samaritans offering help. Remember that there is no door-to-door testing for Coronavirus and take extra care if someone is requesting personal information from you. If in doubt do not open your door.

Requests for Support

Be careful if you receive any social media or text messages from what appears to be from friends or family asking for financial help during this time. Give them a call first to ensure the request is genuine.

For more information regarding inpersonanation fraud click here.

Take Five to stop Fraud

Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Contact your bank immediately (ideally from a different phone) if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud

Fraud Training

To help you learn more about cyber security, we have collaborated with BPP, a global leader in education. Together we have created interactive activities covering four common areas of cyber security. Each activity will help you learn how to protect yourself online, and take approximately 15 minutes. Click here to access the training.

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.

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.

Looking to do something different to stop yourself be coming bored?

The why not brush up your skills and try one or two of the suggestions below.

People with learning disabilities chat

The self-advocates at Change and People First (Self Advocacy) have set up a weekly Zoom chat called People with learning disabilities chat so self-advocates can link up with each other during difficult times.  The meetings will take place every Wednesday at 11am.

To join the Zoom Meeting just click this link

If you are asked for a password you will need to put in 100.

You can download the meeting into your calendar system by clicking here.

The Zoom Meeting ID: 703 850 589

Coronavirus Tech Handbook

Newspeak House has set up a website full of information relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, including resources for civil society organisations.  Find resources and contribute your own at:

Housing Systems free e-learning

Housing Systems have put together a free e-learning module on Coronavirus and Benefits.

The team at Housing Systems hope you find it useful and would encourage you to share it with anyone who might find it helpful too.

The module can be found here:

Research Institute for Consumer Affairs survey

The Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (RiDC) conducted a snap survey of their panel members, to get information on the impact of government measures on disabled and older people.  Most shockingly, half of respondents who received social care at home report no longer having any in person health or personal care visits to their home.

See more details and remaining survey results:

Coronavirus News in Brief

20th April 2020

The NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol is due to open today (Monday 20 April) at the University of the West of England exhibition centre in South Gloucestershire

The hospital, on which work began two weeks ago, will enhance and support critical care capacity across the Severn network.  In that short time, contractors, staff and partner organisations have done a fantastic job.  The NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol will enhance and support critical care capacity across the Severn network.       

On Thursday, the Mayor sent a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP urging Government to consider extending the financial package to cover the full range of VCSE organisations, including those that are not registered charities.  The letter (attached) was co-signed by Kerry McCarthy MP, Darren Jones MP and Karin Smyth MP.

On Thursday, the Council also launched a campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence, and what support is available if you’re suffering abuse.  Cllr Helen Godwin recorded a short video about how you can access help through the Police, the National Domestic Abuse helpline and through Next Link in Bristol [link].

Good News for Disabled people who employ their own PAs.  The Government has confirmed that thousands more employees will able to receive support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) after the eligibility date was extended to 19 March 2020 [link].

a.   Under the scheme announced by Chancellor last month, employers can claim a grant covering 80% of the wages for a furloughed employee, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month. 

b.   To qualify and to protect against fraudulent claims, individuals originally had to be employed on February 28 2020.  If any employer now thinks they are eligible for support, they can find out more here [link].

The DWP have confirmed people applying for Universal Credit will now be able to use their existing Government Gateway account to confirm their identity, helping to speed up their claim.  This will be available to those residents who have used the Gateway in the last 12 months to access their Personal Tax Accounts, including to check their tax credits, send a personal tax return, or check their state pension.

Others applying for the benefit can continue to confirm their identity using GOV.UK Verify [link]

Coronavirus: The Symptoms and How to Lower your Risk

What are the coronavirus symptoms?

Coronavirus infects the lungs.  The two main symptoms are a fever and a dry cough, which can sometimes lead to breathing problems.

The cough to look out for is a new, continuous cough.  This means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or having three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.  If you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual.

You have a fever if your temperature is above 37.8C.  This can make you feel warm, cold or shivery.

A sore throat, headache and diarrhoea have also been reported and a loss of smell and taste may also be a symptom.  However, a loss of taste and smell is also common if you have a cold so it is not a reliable test of whether you have coronavirus.

It takes five days on average to start showing the symptoms, but some people will get them much later.  The World Health Organization (WHO) says the incubation period lasts up to 14 days.

Lower your risk:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently, especially after coughing/sneezing.
  • Use a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes; throw the tissue away after use.
  • Avoid touching your face.