Name: COVID-19 FAQ
Description: COVID-19 FAQ

COVID-19 FAQ

Coronavirus FAQs

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.

The government has published staying safe outside your home guidance on what the new rules mean from Wednesday 13 May. The page sets out key FAQs to inform the public and help you prepare for these changes.


More FAQ's

Where can I get more information about Coronavirus? And what does vulnerable mean?

What food emergency help is there for the people in ‘higher risk’ and ‘extremely vulnerable’ groups?

Where can I find local Food Banks?

Where can I find supermarket opening times?

Can I get help with my medical prescription?

Where can I get help in an emergency?

Can I go to the dentist, my GP or another medical appointment?

How do I report someone I am concerned about?

How can I volunteer to help?

I can’t go to work because I need to look after my child, but my boss is threatening to sack me if I don’t. What should I do?

Where can I get help with my finances, including paying my rent, mortgage or bills?

Can I move house?

Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?

Where can I get gas and electricity top ups?

How can citizens advice help me?

How do I claim Universal Credit?

What happens if I usually get Free School Meals?

I feel like my mental health is suffering. Where can I get help?

How can I stay healthy and sleep better?

I am worried about going to the Post Office to collect my payments, can someone collect my money on my behalf?

I’m worried about my child falling behind with school work, what learning resources are out there?

I’m worried about becoming homeless, what support can I access?

Which other organisations are providing help locally?

Are the cemeteries still open?

Can I walk my dog / look after my horse?

I live in Dartford, how do I contact my local Councillor?


Where can I get more information about Coronavirus? And what does vulnerable mean?

This is a fast moving situation and the latest information is changing frequently.
For national updates you can sign up to the Gov.uk email alerts here.


Who are vulnerable people?

While everyone is at risk of contracting COVID-19, some people are at an increased or “higher risk” due to underlying health conditions and then there are those who are “extremely vulnerable” due to their current health and have been identified by the NHS as being in need of “shielding” or extra protection. The extremely vulnerable group, or those who are “shielded”, are receiving support from central government.


Who is categorised as being “extremely vulnerable” or “shielded”?

The government have issued specific advice to people who are extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition. Specific details of who is affected can be found on the Gov.uk website.

If you have been written to you are strongly advised to stay at home at all times for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. Avoid going out for food and medicine. Ask a friend, neighbour or family member to bring your supplies where possible.


Who is categorised as being at “higher risk”?

The people identified as being at a higher risk from coronavirus includes people who are 70 or over, pregnant or are any age but have a condition that may increase their risk. Specific details of the conditions can be found on the Gov.uk website.


If someone does not fall into these groups can they still get help from the council?

We are connecting people in need with the appropriate specialist organisations who are providing support on the ground. Anyone that is self-isolating or social distancing due to coronavirus symptoms, underlying health conditions or because they have been identified as vulnerable, and who does not have friends, family or neighbours to help them can call us on 01322 343244 (8:45-5:15pm Monday-Thursday or 8:45-4:45pm on Friday).

Our partners ‘Kent Together’ provide a 24 hour service, and are also available over the weekend, please call them on 0300 041 9292.
Please see Gov.uk for information on providing unpaid care.


What food emergency help is there for the people in ‘higher risk’ and ‘extremely vulnerable’ groups?

Anyone affected by coronavirus that does not have a support network of family, friends or neighbours and has a food emergency should contact us using our helpline on 01322 343244(8:45-5:15pm Monday-Thursday and 8:45-4:45pm on Friday).
Our partners ‘Kent Together’ provide a 24 hour service, and are also available over the weekend, call them on 0300 041 9292.


Where can I find local Food Banks?

Dartford Foodbank 46 Lowfield Street Dartford Kent DA1 1HJ
Contact: Sue Waterman
Email: sfwaterman@btinternet.com
Facebook: Dartford Foodbank
(Tuesday’s 10am – 12 pm)

The Salvation Army
Tel: 07818 690345
The hall is closed, please telephone and they will deliver food to those in need.

Hive Hope
Northfleet/Swanscombe
Northfleet Central, Rose Street, Northfleet, DA11 9EQ
Open Wednesday 11am to 1pm
Email: hivehopeuk@gmail.com

Mary’s Child
Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Stone, Temple Hill
Tel: 01322 382031
Messages are picked up every morning, the office will then make direct contact to arrange collection/delivery as appropriate

Mary’s Child, Temple Hill
Contact: Mandy Young
Tel: 01322 280286
Mobile: 07551 993619
Please call and food will be delivered – please do not attend

The Food Cellar
Christ Apostolic Church, High St, Swanscombe
Thursdays 10am to 12pm
01322 387096
Mutley.236@gmail.com


Where can I find supermarket opening times?


Can I get help with my medical prescription?

Anyone affected by coronavirus that does not have a support network of family, friends or neighbours and needs help with their medical prescription should contact us using our helpline on 01322 343244 (8:45-5:15pm Monday-Thursday and 8:45-4:45pm on Friday).
Our partners ‘Kent Together’ provide a 24 hour service, and are also available over the weekend, call them on 0300 041 9292.


Where can I get help in an emergency?

Domestic Abuse/Violence
If you are suffering from domestic abuse it is important you tell someone.
If your life is in danger or a crime is being committed call the police on 999

National Domestic Violence Helpline
Freephone: Tel: 0808 2000 247 (24 hour support)
Please see Gov.uk for information on support for victims of domestic abuse.

Food emergencies
We can help with food emergencies.
Our official support helpline number is 01322 343434 01322 343244 (8:45-5:15pm Monday-Thursday and 8:45-4:45pm on Friday).  
Outside of these hours, our partners ‘Kent Together’ provide a 24 hour service, and are also available over the weekend, they can be contacted on 0300 041 9292.

Homelessness
Porchlight
24 hour Helpline
Tel: 0800 567 7699

Medical Emergencies
When to call 999
Call 999 in a medical emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Medical emergencies can include:

Call 999 immediately if you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke. Every second counts with these conditions.
Also call 999 if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as after a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from height, or a serious head injury.
Website: When-to-call-999

Dental
In the event of a dental emergency such as severe facial swelling or uncontrollable bleeding, call your local dentist for advice/triage service/referral information.

Mental Health Emergencies/Crisis
Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team  
Safe and effective community based treatment for individuals 18 and above experiencing mental ill health crisis
Tel: 01322 622023
Website: www.kmpt.nhs.uk

Mental Health Matters 24/7 Helpline
Tel: 0800 107 0160

Samaritans
24 hours a day 7 days a week
Freephone: Tel: 116 123
Email: jo@samaritans.org

Silverline 24 Hour Telephone Befriending service
Free, confidential service to share worries and fears. A good sign posting service. The Silver Line is a helpline and friendship service for people aged 55 and over.
Tel: 0800 470 8090

Utilities Emergency contact details
Power Cut Emergency Line
Tel: 105
Website: https://www.powercut105.com

National Grid Emergency
Tel: 0800 404090
Website: https://www.nationalgrid.com/group/safety-and-emergencies

Gas leaks and explosions
Tel: 0800 111999

Southern Water Emergency
Tel: 0330 3030368
https://www.southernwater.co.uk/help-advice/what-to-do-in-an-emergency

Thames Water Emergency
Tel: 0800 3169800
https://corporate.thameswater.co.uk/contact-us


Can I go to the dentist, my GP or another medical appointment?

You can leave home for medical appointments.
GP practices may postpone non-urgent health checks or routine appointments.
You should go to the doctor if there is an essential medical need.

How do I report about someone I am concerned about?

If it’s an emergency call 999.
If you are concerned about someone with a food emergency then please call 01322 343244(8:45-5:15pm Monday-Thursday and 8:45-4:45pm on Friday).
Our partners ‘Kent Together’ provide a 24 hour service, and are also available over the weekend, please call them on 0300 041 9292
For non-urgent medical enquiries call 111
Website: NHS 111


How can I volunteer to help?

We’d like to thank everyone that has volunteered to help in Dartford and those NHS volunteers that are kindly providing assistance. Due to the high number of people that have come forward, we are no longer accepting volunteers at this time, but you could contact some of the local charities and food-banks that are listed here and offer them your help.
NHS Volunteer Responders
NHS Volunteer Responders is recruiting volunteers in good health to help with non-clinical tasks such as patient transport, delivering prescriptions and keeping in contact with people isolating at home. Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily here.

The NHS has also published guidance for volunteer responders on how to refer individuals.


I can’t go to work because I need to look after my child, but my boss is threatening to sack me if I don’t. What should I do?

The government has urged employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their workforce – particularly where they have childcare responsibilities.


Where can I get help with my finances, including paying my rent, mortgage or bills?

If you are worried about your finances, including paying your rent, mortgage or bills:

  • Firstly, talk to your landlord, preferably before missing a payment
  • Social landlords will offer help and support to assist their tenants. If you live in a property owned by a housing association, contact them or look on their website for support
  • If you are on a low income and are not entitled to sick pay, you can make a one-off Universal Credit application for financial help
  • If you think you are going struggle to make your mortgage payments, contact your mortgage lender before you miss a payment. They can help by offering a three-month payment holiday. It won’t affect your credit rating
  • If you are struggling to pay your home bills, speak to your suppliers. Depending on your circumstances, they may be offer lower tariffs and assistance
  • If you have a key meter installed at your home and you cannot get out because you are self-isolating or unwell, contact your supplier. They may be able to add money to your meter that can be repaid at a later date

Help with your rent and living costs
If you're required to stay at home or are infected by Coronavirus and you need urgent financial support, view the benefits you can claim.
If you’re struggling to pay your home bills, speak to your energy suppliers as soon as possible. Depending on your circumstances, they may offer lower tariffs. Many of the larger energy companies will be willing to extend payments for customers affected by Coronavirus and many offer other financial assistance schemes to help you pay your bills.
For advice and help with applications and grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills, visit the Citizen's Advice website or call Citizens Advice free on 0800 144 8444.

Extra help with housing costs if you are on Benefits
Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) can help with your housing costs. To qualify you must be entitled to and receiving either Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (that includes a housing element).

Help with your Council Tax
You may be eligible for help with your Council Tax. To discuss your situation, including deferring the April and May instalments for two months (for residents who pay in 10 monthly instalments), call us on 01322 343700.
Please see the Money Advice Service’s information on Coronavirus – what it means for you and what you’re entitled to


Can I move house?

Homebuyers and renters should, where possible, delay moving to a new house while measures are in place to fight coronavirus.
If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on staying clear of others to minimise the spread of the virus.
Please see Gov.uk for Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


Can I drive to a national park or other green space to walk?

We advise you to stay local and use open spaces near to your home where possible – do not travel unnecessarily.
You can still go to the park for outdoor exercise but only by yourself or with others in your household, not in groups.
We ask you to keep 2 metres apart from others outside your household at all times when outdoors.


Where can I get gas and electricity top ups?

New emergency measures within the energy industry have been agreed by the government to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by COVID-19.
Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied.
This could include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted.

British Gas
Tel: 0333 202 9802
Website: www.britishgas.co.uk

EDF
Tel: 0333 200 5100
Website: www.edfenergy.com

SCOTTISH POWER
Tel: 0800 027 0072
Website: www.scottishpower.co.uk

E.on
Tel: 0345 052 0000
Website: www.eonenergy.com

NPOWER
Tel: 0800 073 3000
Website: www.npower.com

THE UTILITY WAREHOUSE
Tel: 0333 777 0777
Website: www.utilitywarehouse.co.uk


How can Citizens Advice help me?

NW Kent Citizens Advice Bureau can help with specific issues relating to the current crisis:

If your employer has told you not to work
If you're self-employed
Check what benefits you can get
If you can't pay your bills
If you want a refund
Check if there are changes to your benefits
If you're worried about working
You can also contact them on 0300 330 9001 (Mon to Fri 10am – 3pm)
Website:  www.citizensadvice.org.uk


How do I claim Universal Credit?

Information on how to apply for universal credit: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
Those 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.
If you have applied for, or are in receipt of Universal Credit you can get free personalised advice online from the Money Advice Service. This includes budgeting advice and guidance on managing your bills whilst you are waiting for a payment.
Tel: 0800 3285644

NGT text relay – if you cannot hear or speak on the phone: 18001 then 0800 328 5644
(Mon – Fri 8am – 6pm)
Website: Free School Meals


What happens if I usually get Free School Meals?

Children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme allowing them to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home.
Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.
For further details please contact your child’s school or visit www.edenred.co.uk


I feel like my mental health is suffering. Where can I get help?

There are several local and national mental health charities that you can contact for support:

Aspirations – Porchlight
Aspirations is a free service for anyone over 25 who is not currently in employment. We can help if you feel that your mental health is standing in your way.
Tel: 0333 880 2730
Email: aspirations@porchlight.org.uk or cleorobbins@porchlight.org.uk
Website: https://www.porchlight.org.uk/information-support/connect-with-your-community-combating-loneliness-and-isolation/aspirations/tell-us-about-your-situation

Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team  
Safe and effective community based treatment for individuals 18 and above experiencing mental ill health crisis
Tel: 01322 622023

Dartford Gravesend Swanley Community Mental Health Service
For older people and carers
Tel: 01322 421289

Kent and Medway Mental Health Services
Mental health, learning disability and substance misuse service as well as other specialist services
Tel: 0300 222 0123

KOOTH Online Mental Health Service for 10-16 year olds
A free online counselling service for young people, aged 10-16, that is safe and anonymous, using only text based chats with friendly counsellors.
Website: www.kooth.com

Mental Health Matters 24/7 Helpline
Tel: 0800 107 0160

NK Mind Wellbeing service The Almshouses 20 West Hill DARTFORD
Tel: 01322 291380
Email: admin@northkentmind.co.uk
Website: https://northkentmind.co.uk

Release the Pressure
Tel: 0800 107 0160

SANEline
Available 4.30-10.30pm
Tel: 0300 304 7000 (nationwide)

Think Action
Skills to nurture wellbeing
Tel: 0300 012 0012

Vita Minds
NHS provider offering free mental health supporting for those aged 17+.  
Anyone who would like to access their services is able to self-refer or be referred by a healthcare professional by completing their online form here: https://gateway.mayden.co.uk/referral-v2/44659577-499f-4f63-b5f6-551486b9429b
Tel: 0333 015 3495 Monday – Friday 8.00am – 8.00pm, Saturdays 8.00am – 12.30pm
Email: iapt.kentmedway@nhs.net
Website: https://www.vitahealthgroup.co.uk/nhs-services/nhs-mental-health/kentandmedway/


How can I stay healthy and sleep better?

General wellbeing tips
If you can, stick to your routine – If it’s possible try to stick to the same wake up and bedtime every day. Waking up at a set time helps stabilise your internal clock and improves your sleep.

Eat well – Tempting though it is to polish off that packet of biscuits the sugar high will just be temporary. Support your emotional health by eating a balanced diet with a variety of fruit and vegetables. If you feel well in your body, you'll feel better off in your mind and soul.

Lose the booze – Alcohol has a depressive effect and can lower your mood and prevent you from getting good quality of sleep. Both are things that could result in you feeling less emotionally prepared for the extra demands and worries many of us are facing.

Learn to relax – Establishing barriers is especially important with many of us working from home. We are living in unprecedented times and it's easy to feel as though you need to be 'switched on' all the time. You MUST make time for yourself, time to relax and do something that brings you joy. If you don't look after yourself you'll find it harder to look after others.

Keep in touch – Humans are social animals and our current situation of staying at home is necessary to save lives but that shouldn't mean we don't stay in touch with others. Set aside time to call family, friends and colleagues. You could set up a regular chat to give you and your loved ones something to look forward to and establish a routine, which can really help emotional and mental wellbeing.

Be mindful – This doesn’t need to be full meditation unless this works for you.  It could be reading, walking, painting, gardening, board games, jigsaws, colouring in, sewing, juggling, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, calling a friend or anything else that calms you. You could do a short online course to learn a new skill. You could discover a new hobby, plan a new trip you might like to take one day or reminisce and get the photos out of a past holiday. If you start overthinking during these times, recognise your thoughts and let them go.

Good sleep tips
Keep regular hours. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time, all the time, will programme your body to sleep better.
Create a restful sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep and it should be neither too hot, nor too cold; and as quiet and dark as possible.
Take more exercise. Regular, moderate exercise can help relieve the day's stresses and strains. But not too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake!
Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee - especially in the evening. They interfere with falling asleep and prevent deep sleep. Have a hot milky drink or herbal tea instead.
Don't over-indulge. Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, just before bedtime, can play havoc with sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but will interrupt your sleep later on in the night.
If you can't sleep, don't lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.


I am worried about going to the Post Office to collect my payments, can someone collect my money on my behalf?

You should not give your card or PIN to somebody else to use. You can nominate someone you trust to become a Permanent Agent on your account.  This person will be given their own card and PIN to collect cash on your behalf. To nominate a Permanent Agent, please complete the ‘Permanent Agent access form’ (P6163), available from most Post Office branches.
Please note: You can ask someone to take the form to the Post Office on your behalf as long as the form is complete and has been signed by yourself.
Website: https://www.postoffice.co.uk/


I’m worried about my child falling behind with school work, what learning resources are out there?

The BBC has launched a virtual education offer, Bitesize Daily at https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/dailylessons
This offers 14 weeks of curriculum-based learning for kids across the UK. Lessons will be delivered by more than 200 teachers and a host of familiar faces including Professor Brian Cox, Sir David Attenborough and Sergio Agüero who plays for Manchester City FC.
You might also be interested in the online education resources available from Oak National Academy at https://www.thenational.academy/online-classroom/schedule


I’m worried about becoming homeless, what support can I access?

Housing Assistance
If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, please contact the triage team or call 01322 343371
The Government has announced that private and social landlords will not be able to evict tenants who are financially disadvantaged due to the Coronavirus outbreak and have brought in measures to protect renters and landlords.
If you are a Dartford Council tenant and are worried about paying your rent call us on 01322 343134 or contact the rents team
More housing related information can be viewed https://www.dartford.gov.uk/by-category/housing2/housing/covid-19-information
Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.
Find out more by visiting the national government website

Free School Meals
Children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme allowing them to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home.
Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.
Find out more by visiting the national government website
Children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme allowing them to continue to access meals whilst they stay at home.
Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.
Find out more by visiting the national government website


Which other organisations are providing help locally?

You will find a list of other local help and national support at https://www.dartford.gov.uk/by-category/business2/useful-contacts


Are the cemeteries still open?

Following revised Government guidance, we were able to reopen our cemetery grounds on 17/04/2020. We ask visitors to observe social distancing, not to gather in groups and not to use the grounds for anything other than tending to the resting places of loved ones.


Can I walk my dog / look after my horse?

Yes.

People must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus but you can also still go outside for a walk, run, cycle. When doing this you must stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household.


I live in Dartford, how do I contact my local Councillor?

You can contact your local Councillor.
Alternatively you can call us on 01322 343434.
For more information visit the government website.

Last Updated: 26th May 2020