Government guidance changed to permit people with specific health needs to exercise outside more than once a day and to travel to do so where necessary

Bindmans LLP are pleased to confirm that, following pre-action correspondence, the Government has today confirmed that it has amended the leaving home guidance to make it clear that those with health conditions that require them to leave their homes more than once a day, and travel beyond their local area, are expressly permitted to do so.

In particular, the guidance has been changed to provide that:

You can leave your home for medical need. If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can do so. This could, for example, include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day – ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.

Jamie Potter and Emma Varley of Bindmans, and Steve Broach of 39 Essex Chambers, were instructed on behalf of two families with children with autistic spectrum disorder whose conditions necessitate them leaving the house more than once day for their own well-being. One child in particular is deliberately taken to a quiet location that is not local to them, because of their particular needs and where there is a far more limited risk of infection (of him and others) than if he were to remain in an urban environment. 

It was submitted that adults and children with certain health conditions (including those with autism and mental health conditions) were disproportionately impacted by the inflexible policy which required everyone to only leave the house for exercise once per day, and which was therefore unlawful and discriminatory. The restrictions in the policy were was also not reflected in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, the legislation that restricts citizens’ movement.

Jamie Potter, Partner at Bindmans, has said:

We welcome this proportionate and sensible amendment to the Government’s guidance, which provides much needed clarity both to our clients and other people with health conditions.  Given the unprecedented nature of the current circumstances, it is essential that everyone is clear as to what is and what is not permitted.

One of the affected families instructing Bindmans has said:

We are delighted that the government has now clarified this guidance which will enable us to support our autistic son’s needs, while maintaining social distancing, without fear of breaking the rules. The coronavirus pandemic is a crisis for everyone, but humanity and compassion, as well as our basic rights, must still prevail. We are grateful to Steve Broach of 39 Essex Chambers and Emma Varley and colleagues of Bindmans for their expertise and sensitivity as they carried out this important work.

More about this challenge is set out here.

NHS asks people to share their coronavirus symptoms to help others.

A new Coronavirus Status Checker will help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the COVID-19 outbreak.

A new Coronavirus Status Checker that will help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the COVID-19 outbreak has been launched today by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.

People with potential coronavirus symptoms are now being asked to complete the status checker and answer a short series of questions which will tell the NHS about their experience.

It is open to anyone in the UK to use on the NHS website and in its initial phase the NHS is particularly keen for anyone who thinks they may be displaying potential coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild, to complete it.

Click here for further information on how you can help.

Coronavirus COVID 19 Domestic Violence Update

Nationally, there has been a big increase in domestic abuse and it is likely to increase even more, the longer the pandemic lasts.  In many cases this is because the order to stay home has put people who experience abuse inside their homes with their abusers for many more hours, every day of the week.  It also means organisations that would usually spot physical signs of abuse have less contact with people.

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is more than physical violence.  It can also include, but is not limited to:

  • coercive control and ‘gaslighting’
  • economic abuse
  • online abuse
  • verbal abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse

Where to get help

If you are being abused, or worried you may commit domestic abuse, please use the following services which can help you.

If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of domestic abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.


Abuse is unacceptable in any situation and if you are in danger or feel at risk of abuse, please remember there is help and support available.  A number of safeguarding services are still open and Bristol social workers are providing essential support across the city.

The government has confirmed people who need to leave the house to seek help, can. 

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.  If you are unable to talk on the phone, call 999 and then press 55.  This will transfer your call to the police who will assist you without you having to speak.

If you are not in immediate danger but need support, contact whichever of the organisations below that offer the support you need – including if you need support to move out of the house.

While we self-isolate across Bristol, neighbours and communities can support by looking out for children and adults, including elderly people, who may be harmed in their homes.  If you suspect that your neighbours or those in your community are victims of abuse, we encourage you to report it to the police.

Where to get help

  • Next Link provide 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 (10am-4pm, Monday-Friday).
  • If you are worried that a child is being harmed or at risk of harm you can contact the First Response team on 0117 903 6444 or the NSPCC 24 hour helpline: 0808 800 5000 (free from a landline) or text 88858 (service is free and anonymous).
  • If you are concerned about abuse of a vulnerable adult you can call Care Direct on 0117 922 2700.

No-one ever ‘deserves’ abuse so don’t let anyone convince you that you do.  What we all deserve, whoever we are, is to live free from abuse so please do use the organisations out there that can help you make this a reality.

As well as these local providers of support, you can get help from:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline website provides guidance and support for potential victims, as well as those who are worried about friends and loved ones.  They can also be called, for free and in confidence, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.

The website also has a form through which women can book a safe time for a call from the team.

 

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid has provided additional advice specifically designed for the current coronavirus outbreak, including a live chat service.

Men’s Advice Line

The Men’s Advice Line is a confidential helpline for male victims of domestic abuse and those supporting them.  It can be contacted on 0808 801 0327.

Economic abuse

If you are concerned about how coronavirus may affect your finances and leave you vulnerable to economic abuse, please see the advice provided by HM Treasury on what support is on offer.  The charity Surviving Economic Abuse has also provided additional guidance and support.

Galop – for members of the LGBT+ community

If you are a member of the LGBT+ community, Galop runs a specialist helpline on 0800 999 5428 or email help@galop.org.uk.

Hestia

Hestia provides a free-to-download mobile app, Bright Sky, which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone they know.

Chayn

Chayn provides online help and resources in a number of languages, ranging from identifying manipulative situations and how friends can support those being abused.

Support if you are worried about hurting someone

If you are worried about hurting the ones you love while staying at home, call the Respect Phoneline for support and help to manage your behaviour, 0808 8024040.

Support for professionals

SafeLives is providing guidance and support to professionals and those working in the domestic abuse sector, as well as additional advice for those at risk.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update 8th April 2020

NHS updates

  1. Help the NHS help us all

1.1    Do your bit – go to the right place for the right care.  Here are four options to get the treatment you need.

  1. Go to A&E or call 999 with life-threatening emergencies only.  This includes symptoms like:
  2. Loss of consciousness.
  3. Acute confused state and fits that are not stopping.
  4. Persistent, severe chest pain.
  5. Breathing difficulties.
  6. Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.
  7. Severe allergic reactions.
  8. Severe burns or scalds.
  • Go to Minor Injuries Units with conditions that need urgent attention but aren’t critical. This includes symptoms like:
  • Sprains, strains, cuts and grazes.
  • Arm, foot and leg injuries.
  • Bites, minor burns and scalds.
  • Broken bones.
  • Minor head injuries.
  • Eye problems such as scratches and foreign bodies in the eye.

You can find these clinics at:

South Bristol Community Hospital, Hengrove, BS14 0DE 0117 342 9692.

North Somerset Community Hospital, Clevedon, BS21 6BS 01275 546852.

West Gate Centre, Yate, BS37 4AX 01454 315 355.

  • Contact your GP Practice if you have a minor illness. This includes symptoms like:
  • Sore throat.
  • Rash.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Hayfever.
  • Go to 111.nhs.uk for 24/7 advice.

1.2    New temporary Covid-19 hospital due soon

The new NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol, based at the University of West of England Frenchay campus, is due to accept its first patient week commencing 20 April 2020 and will care for up to 1,000 people affected by Covid-19.

1.3    Easter Bank Holiday

GP surgeries in Bristol will remain open on Good Friday (10 April) and Easter Monday (13 April) as part of measures to ease pressure on local hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak.

–   Practices will treat the two bank holidays as normal working days and appointments will be available for patients on both days.

–   Local minor injuries units in Yate, Clevedon and South Bristol will also be available over the Bank Holiday weekend, and many community pharmacies will be open on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

The four-day Easter Bank Holiday weekend is likely to be warm and sunny and, while everyone understands the temptation to ‘get outside and make the most of it’, we all need to resist it.  So, don’t forget that the Covid-19 risk is very, very real and “keep your social distance”!

2.   Adult Social Care

2.1    Direct Payments employers

The Council’s Employment Support Team is spreading the word about local temporary vacancies.  If you are looking for temp (or new) staff, please send any local vacancies to chris.mitchell@bristol.gov.uk who will promote them through our Ways2Work network. Some will also then appear on the Council’s feeds.  Employment Support helps residents into work free of charge. 

2.2    PPE supplies

Following delivery of PPE for Health & Social Care across BNSSG on Tuesday this has been sent to care providers (internal and external).  BCC will continue to rate each provider in relation to their access to PPE and support them with accessing appropriate provision through sharing existing stocks.  Adult Social Care is following national Public Health England (PHE) guidance on the use of PPE for care providers and front line social workers.  Updated guidance is being shared with employees including all frontline care staff, social workers and other practitioners who undertake visits to people’s homes.

We have asked the Council what they are doing to get these supplies to those Disabled and older people who have personal care support at home – from care workers, family, friends or volunteers.  We will let you know as soon as we get a response.

3.   Volunteering

So far over 3,000 people have put their names forward to help through Can Do Bristol.  The more people we have involved across more communities and neighbourhoods, the wider this support network will reach.

The Council is currently in the process of matching volunteers’ skills to roles.  The roles we’re focusing on right now are reaching out to those people most isolated by the current situation and helping make sure those in need can get their shopping, medicines and other essential supplies.

If you or your colleagues, friends and family and neighbours wish to volunteer please direct them to Can Do.

If you need a Can Do volunteer to support you with shopping, walking your dog, collecting medicines, or you need some carer/PA cover to assist you in your home:

  • Call the We Are Bristol freephone number – 0800 694 0184 (currently open 8:30am-5:00pm Mon-Fri and 10:00am-2.00pm Sat-Sun)or
  • If you can’t telephone, email coronavirus@bristol.gov.uk.

4.   Employment

Increase to Working Tax Credits

Are you on Working Tax Credits?

As part of the government’s support package during the Covid-19 pandemic, they have increased the basic element of Working Tax Credit by £1,045 to £3,040 from 6 April 2020 until 5 April 2021 [link].

How you can support Bristol Disability Equality Forum from the comfort of your own home

These past few months have been a trying time for everyone amid the Coronavirus pandemic which we are facing. There is still a great level of uncertainty to what the future holds.

We at the Bristol Disability Equality are committed to providing our support to Bristol’s Disabled communities, who are now-so more than ever prone to isolation and loneliness. So far we have reached out to our membership and offered weekly catch up sessions via phone, to provide advice and support to those who want it. We are also running an online version of Making Change Happen in which Disabled people can video chat and discuss their concerns, views and opinions on self-raised topics.

If you would like to access any of these services we are providing please contact:

We are still finding our feet with how to best operate away from our office, and still continue our projects and plans in a way we are able to seamlessly transition when we are back to a sense of normality. Our financial and funding situations are in the balance and we are trying to be as sustainable with our funds as possible. We could really do with as much support as possible during this time. This is how you can help us from the comfort of your own home.

Easyfundraising – Easyfundraising is an online donation service which will give us at BDEF a donation free of charge on top of your online shop. Whether you are doing your weekly shop with Sainsbury’s online or looking for your next insurance provider, as long as you purchase something through the links on easyfundraising you can raise funds for us and it will cost you nothing more!

Easysearch – Easysearch is just a regular search engine like Google or Bing, the only difference is that with Easysearch you can raise much needed funds for a charity or cause of your choice. So next time you are looking for a new recipe to try or find some new information, consider using easysearch to support us.

Colston Hall – Keeping you entertained during Lockdown.

While music venues all across the world have been forced to postpone their concerts and shut their doors to music enthusiasts. Colston Hall in Bristol are still providing feel good tunes and music of beloved artists to be listened to in the comfort on your own home.

Colston Hall has a Spotify Account in which they have created an array of playlists of various genres, artists and vibes. Check them out now for FREE.

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

Bristol Disability Equality Forum’s Liason with Bristol City Council

BDEF are keen to get the most recent information from the Council, to provide the Disabled community of Bristol the most recent information to topics concerning them during COVID19. Laura, Manager of the Forum has been in email communication with the Council and they have answered the following questions.

  1. What are you and/or government doing to support the voluntary sector – as opposed to the business sector – the vast majority of whom can’t take up loans because they don’t have enough earned income to pay them back and can’t take advantage of the government’s offer on business rates?  You need to give charities with a turnover below a certain level a 100% reduction on rates.  When will you do so?

We understand that this is a real issue and we’re continuing to develop plans in this area. In the meantime Quartet Community Foundation have set up a fund and City Funds are mobilising to provide support. We will also be pressing the government to provide appropriate support to the sector.

– Bristol City Council
  1. What are you doing to support people on Direct Payments?  Where is the database of available PAs for DP recipients to use when their usual PA[s] are off sick or needing to self-isolate?

Bristol City Council are working with Direct Payments Support Agencies WECIL and People Plus to identify the people most at risk and ensure they have the support they need.  There is no specific PA database for Bristol but any DP recipient can have help in finding alternatives to their current support arrangement if they need to, either from their support agencies or Bristol City Council Adult Care.  We are combining some useful guidance for DP recipients particularly for people who employ PAs which will distributed over the coming days.

– Bristol City Council
  1. You say many services are to become telephone and online only but you are cutting off access to the internet.  So what ‘reasonable adjustments’ will you be making for all those people who:  a. don’t have internet access now that you’re closing the libraries?  and b. can’t use the telephone for impairment –related reasons?  NB It is not only Deaf people who have impairments that prevent use of telephones.

As many face-to-face services have been cancelled in response to the coronavirus crisis we must do everything we can to ensure we are making reasonable adjustments. Wherever possible we try to ensure that there are alternative arrangements in place to meet the needs of disabled people who may not be able to access online and telephone services (including for accessing information). Because the council has 50+ different service areas this will need a tailored approach so we’re giving general guidance to Heads of Service to use alternative approaches, letting them know that our Translation and Interpreting Service can provide video interpreting for BSL as an alternative to face to face interpreting. Wherever possible we will be adding options for SMS contact to phone helplines. We should also make alternative arrangements for people to provide signatures and documents as evidence for applications etc. when they can’t do this digitally. Please inform us of any areas where you don’t see this happening.

Bristol City Council
  1. You mention the risk of scammers but fail to say what you will be doing to protect those advised to self-isolate – many of those most at risk won’t have internet access so how will you be getting information to them?

Only 47.8% of people in Bristol aged 65+ say they are comfortable using digital services, compared to 81.8% overall[1]. We will ensure that wherever possible alternative methods are provided to digital services when face-to-face services are not available, as well as making use of any available community volunteer support as appropriate. Our Mayor’s office and external communications team will be liaising with various media providers including press, radio and television to get key messages out. We are working with community teams and partners to directly contact people on the shielded patient list (where we hold that information) and other identified vulnerable groups.

– Bristol City Council
  1. I pointed out yesterday that the Can Do website wasn’t coping with the ‘volume of traffic’ – what have you set up to rectify this?

 The Can Do Bristol website is working now after urgent work with the platform developer and we are rapidly developing a large list of volunteers who we will match to those in need. There will continue to be information disseminated on all of these areas and all teams are working hard to ensure we are keeping up with national developments and putting them in to place, taking account of the vulnerable communities we serve in Bristol.

– Bristol City Council