COVID-19: Help and Support
To keep up the latest reliable information about COVID-19, the Government have launched a WhatsApp service. Add 07860 064422 to your contacts and send “Hello” as a message to the number on WhatsApp to receive updates.
What You Have To Do
● Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
● One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
● Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
● Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
These four reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are two metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
There are only two exceptions to this rule:
● Where the gathering is of a group of people who live together – this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.
● Where the gathering is essential for work purposes – but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.
In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.
The Government will therefore be ensuring the police and other relevant authorities have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The symptoms of the disease which are requiring people to stay at home are a high temperature and a new and continuous cough. If you have any of these symptoms, please stay at home. Do not go to a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy.
There is no need to ring NHS 111 if you are staying at home. Use of the number is encouraged, however, if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.
If you are an essential worker suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, you can get tested for the virus by requesting a home testing kit or visiting a regional testing site.
Shielding the Most Vulnerable
Public Health England are advising that people aged 70 and over, regardless of medical condition, strictly adhere to social distancing measures. This is because they are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
The same advice for the same reason is being given to people with the following underlying health conditions who are aged under 70:
- Chronic respitory diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, COPD or emphysema
- Chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- Chronic neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, motor neurone disease, MS or Parkinson’s disease
- Spleen problems, such as sickle cell disease and spleen removal
- Being seriously overweight, with a BMI of 40 or above
- Possession of a weakened immune system as a result of chemotherapy, HIV or AIDS, or steroid tablets
To summarise, this is any adult who is instructed to receive a yearly flu jab on medical grounds.
There are also a number of clinical conditions which put people at an even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
These clinical conditions are outlined in the accompanying graphic.
If you fall into these category of vulnerability to severe illness from COVID-19, you will be directly contacted by the NHS in England who will advice you about the more stringent measures they should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. You should contact your GP if you fall into these categories and the NHS have yet to contact you.
The Government are strongly advising that people with these clinical conditions shield themselves from the outside world for a period of at least 12 weeks.
This means that they are to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact with people who do not live with them.
The people who live with them are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves.
Visits from health and social care providers should continue during this period.
It is also possible for people who are shielding themselves for 12 weeks without the support of family and friends to ask for help from the Government in getting deliveries of essential supplies such as food.
You can register yourself or somebody else as an extremely vulnerable person to receive support online or by calling 0800 028 8327.
Morrisons have also prepared Meat Eater and Vegetarian food boxes containing essential food and household items, intended to cover two adults for one week which may be of interest to those shielding.
Signing up is easy! Join the team today. Once you have been registered and checks have been completed, you will be provided with a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app. When you are free to help, switch the app to ‘on duty’, and you will see live and local volunteer tasks to pick in your area.
To ensure that people are adhering to Government guidance, responders may be required to show the active task they are carrying out if prompted. The majority of the volunteer tasks can be undertaken while social distancing. Volunteers will receive guidance with regard to carrying out tasks safely via a Getting Started pack.
There are four NHS Volunteer roles:
Community Response Volunteer
Role: Collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.
Patient Transport Volunteer
Role: Providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge, and ensuring that they are settled safely back in their home.
These driving volunteers require an enhanced DBS check.
NHS Transport Volunteer
Role: Transporting equipment, supplies and medication between NHS services and sites, and assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.
Check-In and Chat Volunteer
Role: Providing short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.
This support can be provided by people in higher-risk groups, including people aged over 70, pregnant people and people with underlying medical conditions.
Call for Retired Police Officers
Due to the impact of COVID-19 on policing and the community, Greater Manchester Police are looking to re-engage retired police officers.
Currently, 1,332 police officers and staff are away from work because of COVID-19. 1,350 police officers retired from the Greater Manchester Police between 2014 and 2019.
Retired police officers are therefore being asked to re-offer their services to the community.
There are a range of roles available:
- Dealing with local investigations
- Front Line roles
- Supporting call handling
- Taking reports from the public
If you are a retired police officer able to help Greater Manchester Police during these unprecedented, please email Covid19Rejoiners@gmp.police.uk.
The Financial Inclusion Team can be contacted over the phone (0300 561 1111) from Monday to Thursday, 8:00am to 6:00pm and Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.
Jigsaw Homes can be contacted over the phone (0300 11 11 212) and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm.
If you are a Stockport Homes tenant who is expecting to or is currently experiencing a reduction in income due to self-isolation or illness with COVID-19, contact the Rents Team as soon as possible. They are here to support you through these difficult times. Those who do get behind with their rent payments should talk to the Rents Team so that they can understand your situation and make an affordable arrangement for future payments.
The Rents Team can be contacted over the phone (0161 217 6016, Option 3 then Option 3) from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm.
At this time, no renter in either social or private accommodation will be forced out of their home.
From 26 March onwards, landlords have to give all renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession. This buffer will apply in law until 30 September and it may be extended if needed.
From 27 March onwards, all ongoing housing possession action is to be suspended, including any cases currently in or about to enter the system. This will initially last for 90 days, but may be extended if needed.
The Government has also released guidance for those moving home during this “stay at home” period. They are urging parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes.
The Government have announced measures for private renters during this time, including a suspension of new evictions from social or private rented accommodation over this period. Emergency legislation will be introduced so that landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period.
According to Government guidance:
“At the end of this period, landlords and tenants will be expected to work together to establish an affordable repayment plan, taking into account tenants’ individual circumstances.”
Schools, Colleges and Apprenticeships
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, schools, colleges and childcare providers will be closed to the majority of pupils until further notice.
The Government is expecting the majority of education settings to stay open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children so they can continue to attend their usual provider, but acknowledge that this will be impossible for some.
Where a setting is unable to stay open, the Government will work with the local educational authority, regional school commissioners and neighbouring providers to find an alternative setting for their pupils.
Public examinations, such as GCSEs and A-Levels, will not take place this year.
The Government are committed to supporting apprentices and their employers in continuing to build skills and capabilities during these turbulent times.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency are responding to the COVID-19 outbreak by taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they may need to take.
These supportive steps include:
- Allowing end-point assessment arrangements to be modified, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible
- Apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to their assessment timeframe
- Clarification on how to record breaks in learning so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
- Clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19, have their end-point assessment rescheduled
- Confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, alternative employment will be found for them as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks
- Enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to COVID-19 is greater than 4 weeks
- Encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely via e-learning as far as is practicable
Please note that guidance may change in the coming weeks and months. As such, be sure to keep an eye out for the latest updates on the Government website.
Business and Premises Closures
As announced by the Prime Minister on 23 March, the following businesses and premises must now close.
- Betting shops, bingo halls and casinos
- Bowling alleys
- Fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools and other indoor leisure centres
- Galleries and museums
- Skating rinks
- Soft play centres and similar premises
- Bars and nightclubs, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
- Cafes, including workplace canteens
- Public houses
Exclusions: Food delivery and takeaway. Cafes and canteens in care homes, hospitals and schools. Prison and military canteens. Services providing food and drink to the homeless.
- Boarding houses for commercial use
- Caravan parks and sites for commercial use
Exclusions: Any of the above where people reside as an interim abode or in which key workers require accomodation.
- Cinemas, concert halls and theatres
- Community centres, youth centres and similar premises
- Places of worship for services
Exclusions: Community centres, youth centres and similar premises hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks and homeless services. Places of worship hosting socially distant funerals, livestreaming services with no audience and open to solitary prayer.
- Enclosed spaces in parks, including outdoor gyms, pitches, playgrounds and sports courts
- Auction houses
- Car showrooms
- Hair, barbers, beauty and nail salons
- Piercing and tattoo parlours
- Message parlours
- All other retail businesses and premises
Exclusions: Supermarkets and other food shops. Health shops and pharmacies. Medical services. Petrol stations. Bicycle shops. Home and hardware shops. Laundrettes and dry cleaners. Garages and car repair shops. Car rentals. Vets and pet shops. Corner shops and newsagents. Off-licenses. Banks and post offices. Public toilets.
Closure is enforceable by law in accordance with the Health Protection (Coronavirus Business Closure) Regulations 2020.
Council Enforcement Officers from both Stockport and Tameside Councils will be checking that local businesses which remain open are complying to the new guidance. Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers will be working in partnership with the Greater Manchester Police to follow up on all complaints about businesses breaching regulations.
Guidance for Employers
Employers are now able to make an online claim for a grant to cover 80 percent of their furloughed employees’ salaries, up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month, via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
This scheme will be open until the end of June, 2020.
If employers want to receive a payment by 30 April, they will need to complete an application by 22 April.
- Read all the available guidance on GOV.UK
- Gather all the information and precise calculations required, aided by a payroll provider (if applicable) or by using the GOV.UK claim calculator
- Access the simple, step-by-step claim guide on GOV.UK
Call lines are expected to be extremely busy, therefore employers are encouraged to use the above resources or GOV.UK web chat services to ensure that call lines are kept open for those who need them the most.
- Keep a note of or print-out their claim reference number for future reference
- Retain all records and calculations for their claims in case HMRC require them
- Expect to receive funds 6 working days after making a successful claim
- Ask furloughed employees not to directly contact HMRC as information cannot be provided about individual cases
- Be vigilant of potential scammers and opportunist criminal activity
Guidance for Employees
The Government have released guidance for employees during this period, including:
- Advice on staying at home
- Sick pay
- Guidance for furloughed workers
- Guidance on claiming benefits
For workers who are still required to work during this time, Public Health England guidelines need to followed.
This includes maintaining a 2 metre distance from other workers and customers to ensure the safety of all.
The Government have announced a new COVID-19 Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which will give grants to self-employed workers. Eligible workers will be able to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of their trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months (March to June). This may be extended if needed.
Your self-employed trading profits must be less than £50,000 and more than half of your income come from self-employment. This is determined by at least one of the following conditions being true:
- having trading profits/partnership trading profits in 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your total taxable income
- having average trading profits in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19 of less than £50,000 and these profits constitute more than half of your average taxable income in the same period
Only those already in self-employment and who have submitted a tax return for 2019 will qualify for the scheme. However, those who have not yet submitted their 2019 tax return have 4 weeks from 26 March to do so. The tax return must be filed by 23 April.
The scheme is not yet open, but it will be no later than the beginning of June. When the scheme opens, HMRC will contact you if you are eligible for the scheme and invite you to apply online.
Citizen’s Advice suggest that if you’re self-employed and you can’t work because you’re sick with Coronavirus, you might be eligible to claim contribution-based or ‘new style’ ESA (Employment and Support Allowance). Find out more on the Citizen’s Advice website.
It has also been made easier for you to make a claim for Universal Credit, providing that you meet the usual eligibility criteria.
In order to support self-employed people with the economic impact of the outbreak, the requirements of the Minimum Income Floor are going to be temporarily relaxed from 6 April to allow self-employed workers to follow self-isolation and social distancing rules. This change will apply to all Universal Credit claimants and will last for the duration of the outbreak.
Fact Checking COVID-19 Information
Misinformation is bad for us and our health. One of the best ways we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by preventing the spread of misinformation, especially online.
Full Fact are the United Kingdom’s independent fact checking organisation. They have been fighting against a tide of false claims and exaggerations about COVID-19 from social media users, as well as private messaging app users such as those who communicate via WhatsApp and some journalists in the mainstream media.
To stop the spread of misinformation, Full Fact have launched an online form where users can directly ask questions and share claims about COVID-19 that they would like to be fact checked. Their website also publishes all of their latest fact checks in relation to COVID-19.
Macmillan Cancer Support
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Macmillan has seen a stark increase in the number of people contacting their Support Services about the disease – accounting for over a quarter of the people who contacted them in the past week. People living with cancer are rightly concerned about how COVID-19 will affect their health, their care and treatment, and their work and finances.
Macmillan Cancer Support have therefore launched a COVID-19 Information Hub to provde clear advice, information and support about the disease to people living with cancer, their families and their carers.
Cancer Research UK also has a useful page with information about Coronavirus and cancer.
Mental Health Support
Whilst we carry out social distancing measures to protect our physical health and the physical health of others, it is possible that our mental health may suffer as a result. It is recommended that despite social distancing, people remain connected remotely and stimulate their brains by keeping up a routine, regularly exercising and engaging in leisure activities such as reading.
Please find below some organisations who can provide help and support to those struggling with their mental health at this time.
A free online course on understanding and preventing the spread of COVID-19 has been launched for all learners. The course is currently open for enrolment and it will begin on 23 March.
Specifically on COVID-19, Open Learn have a dedicated page learners are advised to consult for free courses of infectious diseases, the latest government advice and mental health support.
Bus, rail and tram services have now reduced, with the Trafford Metrolink having opened as planned to assist key workers. The information about these changes can be found here.
Peak time restrictions on concessionary bus and tram passes have been lifted, but travel must be essential.
Refunds are also being made available for some Metrolink 28 day and annual passes.
Please be assured that a rigorous cleaning regime is taking place on public transport for those who do need to travel.
Those on pre-payment meters will receive help if they cannot get out to top up through credit being sent in the post or in funds and funds automatically being added to their meter.
Those who are struggling to pay bills will receive support and no credit meter disconnections will take place. There is also potential for bill payments and debt repayments to be paused, reassessed or reduced where necessary.
Additional information about what can be done about pre-paid energy whilst self-isolating can be found on the Money Saving Expert website.
British Gas customers without smart meters are encourgaed to top up their meter more than they usually would in case they need to self-isolate. If customers do not have family, friends or neighours who can top up for them during self-isolation, British Gas should be contacted for help.
Similarly, if customers are unable to work because of COVID-19 and thus become unable to pay their energy bills, they should contact British Gas.
British Gas can be contacted over the phone (0330 100 0303) from Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm.
The opening hours of live chat are as follows:
- Monday to Friday, 7:00am to 10:00pm
- Saturday to Sunday, 8:00am to 6:00pm
Scottish Power understand that customers may be financially impacted if they need to self-isolate. If you’re finding it hard to pay for your energy, contact Scottish Power. Depending on your circumstances, there are a number of help packages in place including providing greater time to pay, reviwing monthly payments and the Scottish Power Hardship Fund.
Contact Scottish Power over the phone (0800 027 0072) from Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Scottish Power can also be contacted via live chat and the Scottish Power App which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
Volunteering and Mutual Aid
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said:
“The people of our city-region are compassionate – we don’t just walk on by.
“I want to kick-start a volunteering drive that sees the Greater Manchester public befriend their neighbours and others living and working nearby, running errands, collecting and distributing medicines and in general ensuring our older citizens are safe and well.
“We are living in a challenging period, but together we will get through this like we have so many depressions, recessions and dark times before.
“That is the spirit of Greater Manchester.”
A number of Facebook groups have also emerged to provide mutual aid across the constituency. For information about mutual aid groups in other areas, go to COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK.
0161 217 6046
Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm
Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm
0161 342 8355
(Select Option 5 to go directly through to the COVID-19 Call Centre)
Stockport Council are also collating information and resources from local organisations on its website to get vulnerable and isolated people the support they need.
Adult Social Care
The focus is to ensure that statutory duties are met, but clearly we are prioritising essential work. We are in daily contact with our external providers for care homes, nursing homes and home care to ensure that robust continuity plans are in place. We have also established a central distribution approach for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our staff to ensure that PPE, which is in short supply nationally, is prioritised to where it is most needed.
Stockport Council want to know what the key things are that are impacting your business at the moment, so they can work out how best to help you. Fill in the survey here.
Stockport Council has set up Stockport Jobs Match, a one stop service for people who are looking for work during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. It’s a free to use portal to help individuals access available jobs quickly by applying for work in one place. Click here to visit Stockport Jobs Match.
Council Tax Support
Stockport Council have released information on support for paying council tax during the Coronavirus outbreak. Read the advice here.
On 25 March, the Stockport Local Fund will be launched to offer financial support to community organisations that are providing vital services at this time. Grants of between £200 and £1,000 will be available, aimed at helping the people most affected by the pandemic, including older people, children and families and people on low incomes.
Groups can apply for anything they need to support people, including: equipment, emergency supplies, food provision and parcels for vulnerable people, practical support, resources, running costs, transport, volunteer expenses and other necessities. To apply, community organisations should follow this link.
If people would like to share any information about local community and voluntary groups, please email email@example.com.
Highways and Grounds Maintenance
From 25 March, no grounds maintenance will be taking place and only essential highways works will be carried out. This is to ensure that there is the resilience in the workforce to redirect staff to vital front line services where needed.
Parks and Open Spaces
In line with Government guidance, open spaces and parks remain open to provide places for people to exercise once a day in the fresh air. We have put up signs in our parks reinforcing the social distancing measures that people must take when they are using these spaces.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority have now closed all 20 household waste recycling centres across Greater Manchester.
Whilst every effort was been made to try and maintain a full service, the impact COVID-19 has had to staff numbers means that there is an insufficient number of drivers available to maintain a normal service. As such, the following changes to bin collections in Stockport are taking place.
- Customer services
- Tameside housing advice
- Taxi licensing counter service
- Welfare rights and debt advice
- Adult community education
- Local studies and archives
- Museums and galleries
- Public counter Dukinfield Crematorium
Tameside Council have set up a dedicated page for Employment and Individual Support, containing job listings for current oppourtunities and vacancies. It will also be updated with advice and guidance around mortgage and rent support, and changes to Universal Credit.
The Grow in Tameside Facebook page will continue to be updated. Both Baby Babble, Small Talk and Toddler Talk, and Littler Learners and Baby Group participants are encouraged to use this page for activity ideas to do at home.
The Young Parents Wriggles and Giggles Group will continue to be supported through the WhatsApp group.
All those currently completing or due to start a programme will continue through a different means of communication. Those on waiting lists will be contacted when normal service resumes.
Following further measures on social distancing, Tameside Council have taken the difficult but necessary decision to restrict chapel services to 10 mourners. The council is supporting families and offering webcasting or to rearrange services at a later date.
In line with national guidance advising the UK public to avoid unnecessary social contact, and in line with other Local Authorities in our areas, Tameside Council have taken the decision to close all Active Tameside venues to the public from 10.30pm on Friday March 20th.
Active Tameside will develop an alternative offer for residents including the use of Skype and videos on social media and on their website. They will be contacting members in due course with regards to memberships and block bookings – memberships will be automatically ‘frozen’ for an initial period of three months at no charge.
Active Medlock and the Tameside Wellness Centre – Denton will remain open in order to maintain commissioned services for the most vulnerable of our residents and the council will also continue to deploy sports coaches in schools to support vulnerable children and children of key workers.
In order to observe new social distancing measures and regulations, Hyde Indoor Market will temporarily close on Friday 27 March at 3:00pm until further notice.
All Outdoor Market activity has now been suspended, including the regular Ashton and Hyde Outdoor Markets.
Waste and Recycling
Bin crews are continuing to work hard to empty as many bins as possible in difficult circumstances. However, to catch up with missed rounds, all brown bin collections are going to be cancelled for the rest of this week (commencing 23 March). We hope to resume a full service again next week (commencing 30 March).
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority have also now closed all 20 household waste recycling centres across Greater Manchester.
For Young Carer groups and holiday activities, the team will be making regular phone calls to all families on the register to ensure they are supported. Referrals for Young Carers support can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business Growth Hub
For businesses in Greater Manchester, the Business Growth Hub is an invaluable resource which can help guide you through this difficult period. Support can be accessed over the phone (0161 359 3050) and online.
Affected businesses are being recommended to take 10 steps now, the aids for which can be found on the Business Growth Hub website:
2. Signpost your employees to trusted advice and support
3. Promote good hygiene in the workplace
4. Manage self-isolation, sickness absence and school closures
5. Follow the advice on business trips, event attendance and overseas travel
7. Assess the risks in your supply chain
8. Engage with your key business partners
9. Carry out Pandemic Planning
10. Check your insurance