Covid-19 - Coronovirus - Information and Changes to Services


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Section: Coronavirus

Information and Changes to Services

On this page you will find the links to national information and guidance on coronavirus and also advice and updates from local services who are having to work in a different way with children and families. The following is the information we have received this week. Previous weekly updates can be found here

You may also want to take a look at Wiltshire Council's dedicated Coronavirus page on its website [HERE], which will be kept updated with information about Council services that may be affected by COVID-19.

Do You Think You Might Have Coronavirus Symptoms?

Residents in Wiltshire and Swindon are being urged to get tested for coronavirus as soon as they experience symptoms. It is feared that more and more people are taking a ‘wait and see' approach if they feel unwell, perhaps not realising that testing facilities are available locally.

There are regional testing sites open seven days a week at: -
Wroughton Park & Ride in Swindon
Beehive Park & Ride in Salisbury

In addition, there is a mobile testing unit will be at County Hall's Mortimer Street car park in Trowbridge several days a week from 13th July. Initially, it will be available from 13th to 16th July, then for six days from 19th July.

Anyone experiencing: -
•a new, continuous cough,
•a high temperature,
•and/or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste,

can book a test [online]. The portal allows you to select the site best suited to you, both for location and day.

Testing is available for all ages at all the sites available by booking on the portal, and you can have up to four people in each car for testing. You can either select to carry out the test by yourself or have an assisted test with a trained tester, remaining in the vehicle at all times in both cases.

You can get a test: -
•for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste); and/or
•for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms.

Test results come back within a couple of days. While home testing kits can be requested, the process can take longer between asking for a test and knowing the outcome, so people are recommended to use the test sites wherever possible and as soon as they can after displaying symptoms.

Full details of how to book a test can be found on [online] or call NHS 119: full Government guidance around the pandemic can be found [online].

School Holiday Activity Provision Summer 2020

Wiltshire Council has produced a directory to give an idea of the range of activities that are available for children aged 5 to 12 during the summer holidays for families with vulnerable children and keyworker families. The detail given is only a snap shot and the providers didn’t appear to be specifically providing activities for children with SEND needs. Therefore we advised parent carers to contact providers directly to discuss the specific needs of their child and the additional support they may need.

In response to requests from the WPCC for inclusive provision to be included in the directory, we have been told that as the majority of providers currently listed are Ofsted registered, it is hoped their offer will be an inclusive one and therefore accessible for children and young people with SEND. As a result of our discussions, we have been advised that there is the possibility to enhance the directory by adding in a column to explicitly show which providers are offering accessible activities. We are assured that each provider will be contacted to ask this question.

The providers currently listed are those which have capacity to take in new children, and therefore for obvious reasons, activities that are already at capacity have not been listed.

This document will be updated as and when more providers send over their information. Please click here to see a download of the directory or view [online] on the Council's website to keep track of any updates.

Exemptions from Wearing Face Coverings

The WPCC has previously shared information about those exempt from wearing face coverings on public transport etc. Please see our [newsletters] for further information about exemptions or the [Government Guidance] (section 5 covers exemptions).

We have been hearing from some parent carers who are distressed having been challenged by the public if their children or young people aren’t wearing face coverings. The WPCC does not as a rule promote services or products that are chargeable, but in recognition of these most unusual times, we are aware of face mask exemption cards, lanyards and clip badges that can be purchased from Disability Horizons. The WPCC is not endorsing these products by promoting them, and this is an exception to our normal practice. You can choose: -

  • Mask exemption travel card plus lanyard plus badge clip
  • Mask exemption travel card plus lanyard
  • Mask exemption travel card plus badge clip only

Prices vary between £3.95 and £5.95 (inc. VAT) depending on the option you choose. Please visit the [Disabled Horizons website] for more information. Please also remember you can download and print a free exemption template from the [WPCC website].

See, Hear, Respond - Barnardo’s COVID Support

Barnardo’s have launched the See, Hear, Respond service to support at-risk and vulnerable children and families during COVID-19, and help reduce potential levels of harm through online and digital support, face-to-face interventions, and targeted work with children who will need help reintegrating back into school. This is planned to run until 31st October 2020.

The service is open to any child who does not have other support networks at this time who you are concerned about. There is no threshold of need or harm that has to be reached to receive a service. However, it is important to note that this service is not a substitute for existing statutory support. If you are concerned that a child is at risk of significant harm then a referral should be made to Wiltshire MASH. If you feel a child is likely to need long term child in need support then a referral into MASH is likely to be a more effective option. This service is aimed at those children who are not receiving support, or who have not met thresholds, but because of COVID-19 and wider problems are struggling and them and their families would benefit from some immediate help in the short term.

If you are concerned about your child/young person, or feel that a young person, (who can refer themselves), can be supported by this service, then please follow the following links for information, support and referrals: -

See, Hear Respond Hub Support: [Support Hub]
See, Hear, Respond Referral Parent/Carer: [Parent Carer Referral]
See, Hear, Respond Child/Young Person Referral: [Self Referral]

There is also a Freephone number for children and families who wish to self-refer, Free phone: 0800 157 7015

Face Covering Exception Rules for People with Learning Disabilities and Autistic People

As of Monday 15th June 2020, everyone must wear a face covering when on public transport if they can, but importantly there are exemptions for those who need it.

People with certain health conditions, disabled people, people who are autistic, people with learning disabilities and children under the age of 11 will not be required to wear a face covering if to do so would cause them distress, harm or cause problems for people who need to lip read or use facial expressions to communicate. This exemption also applies to others whose wearing of a face covering would cause distress, harm or communication problems with the person they are travelling with.
Photosymbols has produced an exemption card template for people to use: simply cut out the relevant card and keep it on you to show while travelling. For the full template click TEMPLATE.

Temporary Changes to SEND Law

On 29th June 2020, the Secretary of State issued a notice to extend the temporary changes to the law on what provision has to be made currently for those with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. The temporary changes to the law have been in force since 1st May 2020 and are now extended to 31st July 2020. Once the notice expires, the Secretary of State can issue a further notice for a period of up to a month if it would be appropriate and proportionate to do so in the context of coronavirus. A minor update has been published: [Changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus].

Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub – updated hours

Wiltshire Council will be changing the opening times of the Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub, from Saturday 27th June 2020.

Since it was set up at the end of March, the hub has been open seven days a week to provide assistance to vulnerable people during the COVID-19 situation. This was then reduced to six days a week at the beginning of June.

However, to reflect a reduction in emails and calls to its hotline, the hub will now operate from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and will be closed at weekends. The hub will close this Friday 26th June and then reopen on Monday 29th June. Outside of these hours, the emergency duty service will be in place as usual.

The Wiltshire Wellbeing Hub continues to be available to anyone who is struggling during this difficult time, such as people who are shielding or self-isolating and don't have a support network around them or know where to get help.

Wiltshire Council's team can help provide support and also signpost them to where additional help is available in their local area with hundreds of community groups set-up across the county providing invaluable assistance.

People can make contact with the hub via email at or by calling: 0300 003 4576 Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

NHS Every Mind Matters

Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. On this site there is expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing including topics such as: tips if you’re worried about coronavirus; sleep; looking after children/ young people; working from home; loneliness, etc.

Click on the following link to find out more - [Every Mind Matters]

Exemption from Wearing Face Coverings on Public Transport

The intention behind the new face covering rules that came into force on June 15th 2020 is to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The regulations could see people fined or told they cannot travel if they fail to wear a mask.

People with autism are among the group of people who are exempt from new rules insisting everyone must wear a face covering on public transport.

Find out more on who is exempt on the government website [HERE]

Also please see the First Bus information which includes how to print out or screen shot on your mobile phone an “Extra Help to Travel Card” (Journey assistance card) which you will be required to show the driver when you travel.
[First Bus Face Coverings Exemptions]

The National Autistic Society (NAS) 'I am autistic card' can also be downloaded free and printed, should that be considered helpful too.
[Autism Card]

Carers Allowance – Changes During Coronavirus Pandemic

If you receive the Government’s Carers Allowance, there are some changes that have happened as a results of the COVID-19 crisis: -

  • Providing emotional support counts towards the 35 hours’ threshold needed for receiving Carer’s Allowance. This applies to: -

  • Carers who live in a different household from the disabled person and whose only contact with them is now going to be in the form of emotional support via the telephone and social media.
  • New claims as well as for those already receiving Carer’s Allowance.

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, new measures (from 30th March 2020) also allow unpaid carers to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if they have to self-isolate because of it.

  • The Government has decided to stop recovering overpayments for three months during this period. This includes benefit overpayments, tax credit debts or social fund loans. Although most deductions will be stopped automatically, if you have a standing order set up with your bank, you will need to contact them to stop the payments.

You can find more information about Carers’ Allowance Easements on the [DWP Touchbase website], as well as updates on other benefits and DWP services.

COVID-19 Testing for Parent Carers

Unpaid carers such as parent carers with disabled children have now been added to the list of essential workers and those prioritised for COVID-19 testing in England. There are various ways to get tested, and home testing is also available.

You can find out more on the [ website].

Food Help Due to Self-Isolation

If you are self-isolating due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and you need help and do not have any family, friends or neighbours who can support you please let Wiltshire Council know.

There is help available for: -

  • deliveries of food and other essentials
  • loneliness and wellbeing

If you are self-isolating due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Wiltshire Council can help.

You can request this help by calling the helpline on: 0300 003 4576 or via email at It's available from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

Food parcels being delivered by Wiltshire Council through the wellbeing hub are emergency parcels to last people for three days while more sustainable solutions are found, such as a delivery by the voluntary sector. The council is charging for these parcels where appropriate. Please be assured that they will still be providing food parcels without charge for those that can show they are unable to afford them.

The charges are £20 to cover at least three days’ worth of food for one person, either meat or vegetarian, and up to £25 if the household has specialist dietary requirements such as gluten free.

All funds received for payment of these food parcels cover the cost of the food only, and no profit is being made from the charging for food parcels.

Online map to help people see what COVID-19 support is available near to them

There is an online map to help people see what COVID-19 support is available near to them.

Simply type in the town/village/city name or a postcode in the search box and the system will automatically take you to that location and will highlight the support available in that area, which will be marked by red stars. Clicking on the red stars will bring up information about the groups, including their contact details and a summary of the type of support and services they are providing.

This could be a useful resource for any families who are looking for local help. The link to the interactive map is: [HERE]

Government Online Tool to Support with Finding Help

The website has been updated to include “Find Help” which is a signposting tool to support people who may be struggling due to coronavirus. The site covers a range of circumstances and concerns, including feeling unsafe, going in to work, paying bills or being unemployed, getting food, having somewhere to live, and mental health and wellbeing. While the tool will not provide direct support from the government or organisations through this service, it aims to provide some relevant national information and advice -

Benefits Information – Coronavirus

The Department for Work and Pensions has a dedicated website with information regarding the coronavirus and benefits which it is updating daily: please [DWP website].

The website provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefits. Please check this page regularly for updates on the arrangements the Department for Work and Pensions is making to support those who are affected by coronavirus. Currently on the website, there is information about changes to Statutory Sick Pay, changes to Jobcentre appointments, changes to health and disability-related benefits’ assessments, and making a new claim.

DWP Update - June 2020

Sign Language Videos on Coronavirus and Benefit Changes
The Department for Work and pensions (DWP) has produced a range of British Sign Language videos on Coronavirus and benefit changes. These include new content for Universal Credit and Statutory Sick Pay.

You can view these videos on the [DWP YouTube Sign channel].

It is planned to add videos regarding Access to Work, PIP, Carer’s Allowance and Child Maintenance in the near future.

DWP Updates - 27th April 2020

Help if You are Looking for Work or Looking for Staff

From Monday 27th April, the DWP has launched new [JOBHELP] and [EMPLOYERHELP] websites. These offer labour market information for people looking for work now, and advice for employers to help recruit them.

Video Relay Service for Universal Credit

The Video Relay Service (VRS) has now been extended to people claiming Universal Credit. Over the coming months VRS will be further extended into all DWP services. VRS is already available for British Sign Language (BSL) people who claim DWP disability benefits as well as Access to Work.

VRS enables BSL people to contact DWP via a BSL interpreter. You simply use a video link accessed through your computer, smartphone or tablet. The interpreter will then speak to a DWP agent relaying the conversation by phone. There is no need for anyone to be in the same location and you do not have to book the service in advance.

This means that you and the DWP agent can have a telephone conversation in real time.

[Find out more]

New Style Employment and Support Allowance online claims

You now apply for New Style Employment and Support Allowance online, where you are not already claiming Universal Credit.

Making an application online instead of over the phone should streamline the process to allow greater access to claimants and speed up processing times.

People who are unable to use the new online service can continue to make an application over the phone and the normal reasonable adjustment process continues to apply for anyone who needs it, for example using Braille or large print communications.

For anyone who has applied for Universal Credit, or is already receiving Universal Credit, they should sign in to their Universal Credit account and use their online journal to inform their work coach or case manager about applying for New Style Employment and Support Allowance.

More information is on [GOV.UK]

UPDATE from DWP on Benefits Support - 22/04/2020
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has experienced a huge increase in claims and our phone lines have been extremely busy as a result. We have taken urgent action to boost capacity, by moving large numbers of existing staff to help our front line colleagues, and we’re recruiting more.

New claims to Universal Credit should be done [online] where possible. Customers do not need to call DWP to arrange an appointment and they shouldn’t attend the jobcentre.

People making new claims for Universal Credit no longer need to call DWP as part of the process. Instead, a bolstered team are calling claimants back if they need to check any of the information provided as part of the claim. This change has been in effect since 9th April 2020. It should free up phone lines for those unable to claim online.

All of this will mean our staff can make more calls, ensure claims are progressed as quickly as possible and get much needed support to those who need it.

Key websites
GOV.UK is the primary site for all the key information to support individuals, businesses and other organisations. Here is a link to the dedicated pages [GOV.UK: Coronavirus], which includes information on how to stay safe.

DWP’s employment and benefits support
The [Employment and benefits support] website includes the latest guidance and messages on sick pay, existing benefit claims, new claims to benefit, self-employment, housing and more.