From this Saturday (1 August), the government’s shielding programme will pause, unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. This means the support from the National Shielding Service, including free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care, will stop. Supermarket priority delivery slots will remain.
For the rest of us, easing the strictest lockdown has been a gradual process, and most people will now be relatively used to our new normality of social distancing and face coverings. But many residents who have been shielding, and haven’t really left their homes since March, will probably be feeling a little uneasy about the end of this period.
Venturing back out and being around other people, for example at the shops, with face coverings and one-way systems, is a daunting prospect and the transition could be as difficult as the sudden lockdown was in March. And just as it took a while to adjust back then, it will take a while to adjust now as shielding lifts.
Take it at your own pace, share any concerns or anxieties with those closest to you and remember that the friends and neighbours that have helped you over the last few months are still your friends and neighbours even after the shielding ends and they are still there for you.
Since March, communities have rallied round, with volunteers helping those who have most needed help. Many of those charities, local groups and volunteers, are still there and still able to help. You can find a map of them on our website.
NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the groceries you buy and prescriptions if you need it. You can call them on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).
There is also support available to help people who are feeling anxious about leaving the house.
So, for those who have been shielding and are worried about venturing-forth from this weekend, please know that you are not alone and support is available. And for the rest of us now going about our slightly less restricted lives, please continue to look out for those we know who have been shielding – they may need your continued reassurance as they become as independent again as possible.