Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update As per the Government’s advice, everyone must stay alert to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For more information on this along with guidance on how to stop the infection spreading visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19 Support Available in each SLC area We have summarised what support is available for blind and partially sighted people, along with the contact details for more information, in each of the SLC areas. Download this for your area via the links below: Birmingham Black Country Bristol Gloucestershire Greater Manchester Merseyside Covid-19 testing for blind and partially sighted people Covid-19 tests are now available to anybody in England who has symptoms. You can apply for a test online here. This test is called an antibody test and it will tell you if you currently have the virus. The test usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. The tests are available at regional testing centres, mobile testing centres and via home test kits. At regional drive through testing centres or temporary mobile testing centres blind and partially sighted people can be supported by a sighted driver and advisory staff are available at the centres to provide assistance. Home testing kits are self-administered. The feedback from blind and partially sighted people is that the instructions are not currently in an accessible format and the test can be challenging to administer. Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) is working with sector partners and the government to improve the accessibility of testing instructions to include alternative formats. To find out more on the work TPT is doing to lobby Government on this issue visit: www.pocklington-trust.org.uk/covid-19-update Apply for a test online Street design Guidance for Local Authorities In response to Covid-19, many local authorities are redesigning their streets to accommodate more pedestrians and cyclists. In partnership with Guide Dogs, RNIB and Visionary, Thomas Pocklington Trust have developed guidance for local authorities to ensure designs are inclusive and reflect the needs of blind and partially sighted people. The guidance outlines the importance of communication with visually impaired people on the changes and their reliance on physical cues such as kerbs, tactile paving and controlled crossings to navigate safely. You can read the full guidance here Please Give me space: social distancing cards or badges The Cabinet Office have produced cards or badges that you can show members of the public, if you have difficulties or concerns in maintaining social distancing. use them to signal to others around you that they should pay attention and give you space. You can print the cards/badges or download them straight to your phone. Find out more here Priority Supermarket delivery slots now available for blind shoppers After months of campaigning by RNIB, Guide Dogs, Visionary and Thomas Pocklington trust, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has secured online shopping slots from a number of major supermarkets for people whose independence has been challenged by the lockdown. This includes those with a visual impairment. If you are blind and partially sighted, live in England, and have no local help from family or friends, you can now call the RNIB Helpline on 03031239999 to be referred for a priority slot. Find out more on the RNIB website. #DistancingBlind As Lockdowns begin to ease, blind and partially sighted people face a growing list of social distancing challenges. Our #DistancingBlind campaign is raising awareness of the issues and providing guidance to local businesses. Find out more Do you need help from an NHS volunteer? If you are currently not supported and need some help with shopping, a prescription collection or a friendly chat then NHS Volunteer Responders are ready to help. Visit the NHS Volunteer Responders website Accessible communications Together with other Sight loss sector organisations, Thomas Pocklington Trust is lobbying the Prime Minister’s Office, highlighting the inaccessible government updates on coronavirus. The Government has consistently been sharing vital public health information and other updates in a way that excludes people with sensory or complex disabilities, despite reminders from many disability organisations. Read our open letter to the PM Thomas Pocklington Trust is delighted to report that following the joint letter to the PM linked above, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Justin Tomlinson MP, has appointed Claire Pimm, Director of National Resilience Communications at the Cabinet Office, as senior lead for accessible information. The Cabinet Office has also reissued guidance to all Government Departments reminding them of their duties under the Equality Act that “reasonable adjustments” are made to ensure communications are accessible. The group has created and shared with Government a checklist of simple steps that should be taken to ensure communications are accessible. Read the checklist here Your questions answered Blind and partially sighted people have been contacting us with a range of questions related to COVID-19. We’ve come together with other sight loss sector organisations to share these FAQs which will be frequently updated: www.sightadvicefaq.org.uk/independent-living/Covid-19 We have a pulled together an outline on what each of the national sight loss charities are doing during the pandemic with links to their websites and how to get in touch. You can download this here: National sight loss charities advice pages Guidance for self-employed individuals Many blind and partially sighted people are self-employed and are currently being adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This short guide outlines the support the government has put in place and some tips, you might find helpful, on managing finances. Support for self-employed guide Handy apps during COVID-19 Technology is so important for enabling blind and partially sighted people to live the life they want to lead, TPT has created a list of accessible apps and solutions for greater independence, support, communication and entertainment for blind and partially sighted people. Take a look at our handy guide here. Can you help? The NHS is looking for volunteers in a number of roles. This includes collecting and delivering shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating; providing transport home for patients who are medically fit for discharge from hospital; transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites or simply checking in via telephone with people who are self isolating. If you think you could help, register here: www.goodsamapp.org/NHS Stay healthy. Stay safe.