COVID Special Issue - April 2020

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Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief   
To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see

Scams come in many forms; uninvited contact is received by email, letter, and telephone or in person making false promises to con victims out of money. The criminals attempt to trick people with flashy, official looking documents or websites, or convincing telephone sales patter, with the aim of persuading them to send a processing or administration fee, pay postal or insurance costs, buy an overvalued product or make a premium rate phone call.

Doorstep scams are crimes carried out by bogus callers, rogue traders and unscrupulous sales people who call, often uninvited, at people's home under the guise of legitimate business or trade.

Beware of people offering or selling:    
Virus testing kits – these are only offered by the NHS.
Vaccines or ‘miracle cures’ there is currently no vaccine or cure .
Overpriced or fake goods to protect yourself against Coronavirus such as anti bacterial products.

Protect yourself and others:  
Don’t be rushed into making a decision – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take time to think before parting with money or personal details.
Don’t assume everyone is genuine.
If someone claims to be from a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money ‘up front’.  Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.

Please note that Friends Against Scams is not a reporting or advice service. If you require advice on scams we recommend you contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.

To report a scam or suspicious activity please contact Action Fraud  at or telephone 0300 123 2040  

Visit our Forum page at where you will find topics to follow or start your own.

Alternatively please contact me on  or text me on 07853 038933.

SCAN’s members are primarily volunteers who either have a disability themselves or work with people with disabilities. 

New members/volunteers are encouraged to join both SCAN and this forum.  The meetings bring together service providers and users to influence the solutions to any problems or access issues encountered by people with Physical, Sensory and Cognitive Disabilities.  

Because of Coronavirus we have had to reschedule the forum meetings. We will publish updates on our website  when new arrangements have been made.    

If you are one of the 1.5 million who have received notices from the NHS and will not be able to use your vehicle because you are ‘shielding’ for the foreseeable future, here are some tips for maintaining your vehicle.

If possible, start and run the engine for at least 15 minutes every other day which should prevent the battery from going flat. But do not leave the vehicle unattended while the engine is running

Keep the tyre pressures topped up at the correct pressure.

If you know you will not be able to use your vehicle for several months, you could contact the DVLA and declare the vehicle as off road (SORN).  Some of the tax that has been paid or is due to be paid will either be refunded or cancelled but you will then need to renew the tax before you are able to drive the vehicle again.

There are still a few garages and independent mechanics operating but they have introduced strict social contact/distancing policies.  Services & repairs will need to be pre-booked and cash payments will not be accepted. The cars will be collected from customer and wiped down with antiseptic wipes before being driven away and again after they have been returned to the customer. Check with your regular service garage or mechanic, if you have one, for further details.

Community Helpline number: 0300 200 1008 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm)
SCC have set up a new community helpline to direct you to services that can help during the coronavirus pandemic.

This community phone line is here for two things:

To help direct residents who need support, if friends and family are unable to help with such things as picking up shopping, prescription collections or having someone who can be a telephone friend, and other services that can help.

To provide advice on where to register your offer of help to support your community.

The Community Helpline will not be able to provide any public health advice (please use existing services such as 111) or answer general enquiries relating to council services.

The county council is working with all key agencies on communicating to residents, staff, businesses and the health and care workforce and ensuring people follow the national guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Our local effort is focused on reducing the spread of the virus, supporting the NHS and protecting vulnerable people in our community.  

SURREY MATTERS - Managing your waste during the Coronavirus pandemic.  Published: 31 March 2020  
Three things to be aware of:
The Coronavirus pandemic has meant some changes to the county's waste management system and there is new advice on how to deal with your waste during this time.

To keep updated on waste and recycling information during the Coronavirus pandemic visit the Surrey Environment Partnership website.

Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) now closed  
All 15 of Surrey's CRCs are now closed. If you're working in your garden or clearing out your home, please hold onto your waste until they are open again.

2. Impact on bin collections  
We're doing everything we can to keep bin collections running as normal. But it's likely that services will be impacted soon because of staff shortages due to parental leave or sickness. To help us prepare, here are some things that you can do to help:

Help bin crews operate  
Due to reduced traffic, your usual collections time may change. Please put your bins out early and leave them out until they've been emptied

Please be considerate when parking your car on a collection day, this will help to ensure the collection vehicles can access your road

Please make sure your bin lids are firmly closed to help prevent crews unnecessarily touching them

Wash your hands before and after touching your bin

Compact your recycling into bins as much as possible to maximise space and only put bins out when they are full

Bin crews are working hard to keep this essential service going during this difficult time. If you see them, please let them know you appreciate what they're doing and give them a wave or a smile!

3. How to deal with your waste when self-isolating.

The Government has advised that anyone who is self-isolating with symptoms of Coronavirus, including those with a diagnosis of the virus, should treat their household waste as follows:

Personal waste e.g. used tissues, and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste within your own room. This should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin.

Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.

When cleaning you should use your usual household products like detergents and bleach as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Clean frequently touched surfaces.  

Published: 31 March 2020 - Edited  
Latest services impacted by Coronavirus  
Here is an overview of some of the latest Surrey County Council services impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. For a fuller list visit the Coronavirus Community Hub website .

Countryside car parks  
While residents can still visit the countryside, they should be staying at home. If any residents are going out once a day for exercise they should visit quiet locations close to their homes and not travel.

Surrey County Council offices  
Our offices remain open for key staff only. The reception desks are closed, members of the public should not visit.

Parking restrictions  
As most residents are staying at home, single yellow line parking restrictions in quiet residential roads are not being enforced. Residents should check with their district or borough council to find out about any flexible arrangements for council car parks, or if temporary parking permits are being issued. Parking on double yellow lines, zig zags and single yellow lines on main roads and in town centres will be enforced as normal for safety reasons. For more details visit Surrey County Council Parking web site .  

Emergency shopping support service     
We are providing an emergency shopping support service for older people who cannot get out of the house and have no-one else to turn to.

The service is being supported by fantastic volunteers who have stepped forward to help. We have seen an 80% increase in volunteer offers – thank you so much to everyone.

Telephone befriending support for clients
The Age UK Surrey Help at Home service continues to support clients wherever possible – following government guidelines to keep both client and Home Help safe.

For people who normally receive a befriending home visit and for clients who are no longer able to go to one of our social group activities, we aim to keep in touch by telephone to help to improve wellbeing and reduce any increased feelings of social isolation.

Working together
Age UK Surrey is working closely with other voluntary organisations, Surrey County Council and Local Authorities to support our older vulnerable community.

How to contact us
Please leave a message on 01483 503414. Alternatively, email:

If you are an existing Age UK Surrey client, please telephone or email your usual contact. Regional office telephone numbers for the Help at Home service can be found on our website.

For links to information and advice from Age UK and the NHS about the virus, please click here: 

EVERY MIND MATTERS – Mental Wellbeing - Staying at Home  
Taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important while staying at home because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also be low, worried or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or those close to you.

It's important to remember that it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass. Staying at home may be difficult, but you are helping to protect yourself and others by doing it.

The tips and advice here are things you can do now to help you keep on top of your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel while staying at home. Make sure you get further support if you feel you need

The government also has wider guidance on staying at home as a result of coronavirus.

STAINES SHOPMOBILITY  is pleased to report that we will continue to remain open to support our customers. The service will offer reduced opening hours but these will be aligned with the current special hours the food stores are offering to vulnerable groups.

The shop will be open: Wednesday 9am-3pm, Thursday 8am-3pm, Saturday 9am-3pm.  

Current special hours for vulnerable groups are:  Iceland Monday to Saturday 9-10am, Sunday 10-11am, Marks & Spencer's Monday & Thursday 8-9am. Check For Any Updates At   

Essential Businesses    
Stores currently open and selling essential products and services:  
Specsavers: Open 10am to 4pm – essential care only  
Boots: Open 9am to 5pm  
Iceland: Monday to Saturday 9am-6pm and Sunday 10am-4pm (see Staines Shopmobility for vulnerable group times)  
Holland & Barrett: Open 9am to 5pm  
Grape Tree: Open 9am to 5pm    
Marks & Spencer's: 8am-7pm Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 4.30pm Sunday  
Pets Corner: 9am-6pm Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 4.30pm Sunday  
Sunset Pharmacy: 9am-6.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm Saturday  
Superdrug: 10am-5pm  
Wilko: 9am-5pm  
Vitamin Shop: 11am-5pm  

Banks are Open  
Post Office – inside WH Smith  
The Market is open in the High Street for food only


Join us for our virtual walk and talk, Every weekday 2.30 pm – 3.00 pm.  Anyone over 18 can join in.  It’s free and an opportunity for people to chat whilst doing some gentle activity in their own home.

How can I join in?  
Join us every Monday for a good catch-up!  11.00 am – 12.00 noon.  Anyone over 18 can join for free, you just come along when you want to for some light-hearted discussion over a cup of tea or coffee.

*If you are joining by zoom for the first time, please download the (free) app here: 

There is now a growing use of all manner of digital communication, anyone can now join in without any worries about keeping two metres apart! 

How could anyone imagine how technology has evolved since establishment of the new local Access Action Groups in the early 1990’s.

‘Spare Time’ to attend ‘physical meetings’ has become a rare commodity for many people today.  It’s not just the time spent at the meeting venue but the travel time involved in getting to and from the venue.  The VR technology has been involving, with the ‘millennium’ generation leading the way, but for some, it has been something ‘to be feared’ when it should be ‘embraced’.

The current pandemic has provided the ‘catalyst’ for the VR technology to ‘take off’ in a big way to bring communities together. Social media has had its ‘bad press’ over the years with the stories of bullying and abuse, but now is the time to promote the complimentary side that can provide support for those who would otherwise be isolated in their own homes.  

We are a Charity (No 1186678) dedicated to providing Local news and information to sight-impaired listeners within Elmbridge Runnymede and Spelthorne. We are sponsored by the local Rotary Clubs and supported by other donors.

ERSTN is a voluntary organisation which provides a free service of local news to blind and visually impaired people, as well as others who have difficulty in reading. It is our aim to reach as many of these people as possible, to enhance their lives by helping them keep in touch with what is going on in their community.

Every Friday two presenters record onto USB memory sticks an mp3 audio file of up to ninety minutes of local news taken from the Surrey Comet and Surrey Advertiser newspapers. The memory sticks are then delivered free of charge through the post, usually to be received on a Saturday, and after listening, listeners return the sticks, again post free. Most of our listeners play the memory sticks on a boom box which can be provided. Anyone having Amazon Prime can also ask Alexa listen.

We also produce a Magazine for our listeners. This contains items of local interest taken from magazines as well as other items appealing particularly to our blind and visually impaired listeners.

If you want to know more, please feel free to contact us at email Our Helpline number is: 01784 435622. By Post to Elmbridge, Runnymede and Spelthorne Talking Newspaper, Rear of New Haw Community Centre, 65 Woodham Lane, New Haw.
KT15 3ND  

HOW ARE PEOPLE WHO NEED CARERS SUPPOSED TO SELF-ISOLATE? Edited from article in The Independent by Emma Vogelman  
For many of us with chronic health conditions, coronavirus presents a paradox. While on the one hand, we’re most at risk of becoming seriously ill if we contract Covid-19, we’re also often the least able to self-isolate. While I’d love to seal myself in a bunker with my dogs, record collection and phone, I physically can’t.

I have muscular dystrophy, and a team of six regular carers; six people who come in and out of my house every week, who could potentially bring in coronavirus. This causes me a lot of worry, but there is little I can do about it. I have asked my carers to wash their hands when they come in, and to let me know if they or someone they’ve been in contact with has symptoms. One of my team has not been able to come in this week as someone they saw last week has a fever. I read how one person has suspended all of her carers unless they agree to completely self-isolate outside of work. I have thought about this option a lot, but I’m not sure how practical this would be.

I work for Muscular Dystrophy UK, where I support disabled young people through the Trailblazers network. We have been inundated with questions from people asking what to do about their carers. Should they stop them coming in? Do their carers get paid if they’ve been told to self-isolate? What safety measures should they put in place to protect themselves and their carers? I wish I had all of the answers, but I don’t.

I am going by the same NHS guidance as everyone else – which, so far, hasn’t provided a great deal of clarity for people in my situation. Strict social distancing just isn’t possible for disabled people who require care. Some people’s families are stepping in to provide care when paid carers cannot come in, but others cannot. I’ve heard from one parent who has stopped carers coming in for her son and is now doing all of his care herself, leaving her exhausted. For disabled people and their families, this is proving an impossible decision.

I called my insurance company to ask whether I have to pay carers if I do not want them to come in. They advised me I can claim Statutory Sick Pay from the government for a carer’s pay if she has been told to self-isolate. My carer was not showing any symptoms herself, but knowing I am at high risk, informed me she had been in contact with someone who had symptoms. When I explained this, my insurance provider said this did not meet the current government criteria, and if I didn’t want my carer to come in, she would need to be paid in full. The fact I am at high risk was not considered. Given this, how are disabled people expected to protect themselves?.

I am proud to be a resource for the disabled community during this crisis, but I am not enough. We need NHS guidance for care staff in home settings, advice for employers who are also high-risk individuals, and acknowledgement that it is impossible for us to completely self-isolate. I want to support my community as I have always done, but right now, I need the government to help me do that.