We all need to stay safe during the Coronavirus epidemic.
We must look after ourselves, and others. But some people are particularly at risk during these trying times. It’s important that we help where we can. But it’s also vital that we remain aware of certain safeguarding risks.
We’ve put together this short collection of essential information, tips, and resources. We’ll be sure to update this page as necessary, and we’ll also be producing more resources of our own in the coming days.
General Information & Advice
We still don’t fully understand Covid-19. Every day, experts are broadening their understanding of the virus. As a result, official Government guidance changes regularly.
We advise against using social media for news and updates. Many non-experts are sharing their thoughts and opinions. Don’t get caught up in a panic. Stay calm. And to ensure you only receive official updates and advice, stick to the official channels:
- The NHS Coronavirus Hub – Includes guidance on symptoms, and what to do if you feel unwell.
- The UK Government Response – The latest updates on the development of the virus and vaccines, plus tips on supporting yourself and others.
- NHS 111 Online – Check your symptoms online, and get tailored advice from medical professionals.
General Safeguarding Advice
As the situation is still developing, and as the official guidance changes from day-to-day, we cannot currently offer any concrete guidelines for safeguarding during the Covid-19 epidemic. However, we can offer general advice. There are certain things you should keep in mind when interacting with anyone, and certain best-practice techniques you can adopt.
The Athena Programme produced a short guide to safeguarding adults and young people at risk during the epidemic.
- Watch for signs of anxiety.
- Give people control, and offer simple reassurance.
- Monitor media consumption – try and ensure at-risk individuals don’t see too many upsetting images, or too many upsetting reports.
- Be a good role model – adopt good hygiene and social-distancing habits yourself, to show others how it’s done.
- Stay in touch via phone, email, or video calls.
- Unless you cannot leave the house yourself, offer to run errands. But be sure to leave food and other items at the door, to avoid contact.
- Encourage people to keep moving – exercise works wonders!
At-Risk Individuals in Isolation
The current Government guidance is to avoid leaving the house as much as possible. Unfortunately, this places some individuals at risk – either of isolation and neglect, or of domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
The Huffington Post published a comprehensive report on how self-isolation may make abuse more likely.
If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for police. Your emergency situation still matters, even during an epidemic!
But if you’re not in immediate danger, there are many other resources out there:
- Freephone 24 hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge on 0808 247 2000, or visit www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk
- Scotland: Contact Scotland’s 24 hour Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline: 0800 027 1234.
- Northern Ireland: Contact the 24 hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline: 0808 802 1414.
- Wales: Contact the 24 hour Life Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800.
- National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428.
- Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327.
- Respect helpline (for anyone worried about their own behaviour): 0808 802 0321.
Beware of Scammers
Unfortunately, some people are exploiting the Covid-19 crisis to scam at-risk individuals. We’re hearing reports of telephone scams, email scams, and even in-person scams.
Regardless of whether a virus is making the rounds, the best way to protect yourself and others from scams is through remaining vigilant. Be aware of the risks yourself, and learn what sort of warning signs to look out for. And if you know or care for any at-risk individuals, make sure you advise them on the risks too.
Some general guidance for avoiding scams:
- NEVER give your card or your card details to anyone else, whether it’s in person, online or over the phone, unless they’re someone you know and trust.
- Banks almost never contact customers by email or telephone. If you receive an email or a phone call requesting your bank details, you can safely ignore it. Then contact your bank by other means, telling them about the call or email you received. If there’s genuinely an issue with your account, you can sort it there and then.
- If someone’s offered to shop for you, don’t give them your card. Instead, ask them to provide a receipt, and arrange to send them money afterwards.
We have some additional resources about this issue. Read our guide to keeping safe from financial abuse here.
Our guide to safe volunteering during the Covid-19 crisis also features some guidance on spotting certain warning signs. Read it here.
It’s sad that we have to share these guidelines. The vast majority of people who offer to help during this crisis genuinely want to help. But there will always be some who will think nothing of exploiting others’ goodwill and vulnerability. As always, it pays to be vigilant.
Need Anything Else?
No matter what happens with Covid-19, we’re still here for safeguarding support and advice.
You can still get in touch via phone, email, or our website.
The whole ACT team has switched to remote working. So while it might take us slightly longer to reply, we will still get back to you.
Tel: 0115 951 5400