It’s worth being aware of these simple things you can do to make sure you stay safe during this difficult time.
- Be very careful about who you give your personal details to – for example, don’t share them on social media. If you need some help whilst you are unable to leave the house, only share your details with people or organisations that you trust (such as your local council or a trusted local community group).
- If someone calls or visits you claiming to represent an organisation that wants to help you (with your shopping or testing for coronavirus, for example), ask for their name. Look up the organisation’s telephone number yourself and then call the organisation directly to check they are who they say they are. Do this before you agree to anything. It’s a good idea to use a door chain when answering the door to people you don’t know.
- Never give your bank card or bank details to anyone. If you need to pay someone back for shopping they have delivered, see if you can pay by bank transfer or PayPal.
- Ask your bank or a family member or friend to help you set this up. Whether you pay by cash or bank transfer, always ask for receipts first.Ask anyone who is helping you by delivering your groceries or medication to keep a safe distance (3 steps away), or to leave things on your doorstep. Wash your hands after handling deliveries or cash.
- Check on your neighbours by putting a note through their door with your contact details on, so they can get in touch with you if they need help. You could also find out if there are any local groups offering help. See our neighbourhood response advice for details.
- Make sure you’re in good health yourself before offering to help someone with their shopping. Before you do any shopping for someone, agree how they will pay, whether by cash, bank transfer or Paypal. Do not ask them for their bank card or bank details.
- Follow the latest government guidance on staying at home and away from others. Minimise the time you spend outside, including time spent shopping for yourself or for someone you are helping. For example, where possible limit your shopping trips to what is necessary and use online delivery services when you can.
- Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitisers for at least 20 seconds before and after collecting the items for them
- Make sure you get receipts for everything to avoid any misunderstandings.
- When you deliver their shopping, keep a safe distance (3 steps away) or leave the items outside or on the doorstep.
Here are a few tips to help make sure that you keep yourself and others safe, whilst helping out those around you:
- Think carefully before sharing information such as your personal contact details, or details of people in your community who may need help, on social media
- Don’t share personal information such as contact numbers or addresses of people who need help with all potential volunteers – make sure you have a secure system in place for sharing information with only those who need it. Only collect the personal information that you really need from the person who needs help.
- Make sure that you aren’t putting vulnerable people at risk – keep a safe distance (3 steps) when running errands for people (for example, leave shopping on the doorstep rather than asking the older person to open the door and directly take things from you).
- Agree in advance what you will do for people who are unable to get out of the house – for example, how much you will spend if you go shopping for them, and how your costs will be covered after you have made the purchases. Keep all receipts.
- Only undertake activities for others when you feel well yourself, and always follow the government guidance on regular hand washing and when to self-isolate and staying at home.
- If you can, set up online shopping accounts. Check if the supermarket you shop from offer or plan to offer priority access to online delivery slots.
- If you need medication or a repeat prescription, contact your GP or pharmacy by phone to arrange this.
- If someone has offered to do shopping for you, make sure you feel comfortable with this before you accept. If they say they represent an organisation, ask for their name. Look up the details of the organisation yourself and call to check that the person is who they say they are.
- Agree in advance how you’re going to pay. Ask for receipts for everything, to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Never give your bank card or bank details to anyone. See if you can pay by bank transfer or Paypal. Ask your bank or a trusted friend or family member to help you set this up.
- Don’t take the shopping from someone directly. Anyone delivering shopping or medication should keep a safe distance (3 steps away) or leave the items on your doorstep.
- When you’ve put your shopping away, wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap or hand sanitiser. This is to reduce the spread of the virus from surfaces such as food packaging. You should also wash your hands after handling any cash or receipts.
Scammers are clever and ruthless, and may use the current situation as an opportunity to target people who live alone and may be feeling lonely or need some help – by offering to do shopping, or claiming to be able to test people for coronavirus, for example. If you are concerned that someone you know might have been targeted, you should:
- Try to speak to them about it. It’s not uncommon for people to feel ashamed or embarrassed if they have fallen victim to a scam, so reassure them that this isn’t their fault and that scammers use devious tactics anyone could be taken in by.
- Help them to report it to the police (101) and/or Action Fraud (0300 123 2040) if they have been targeted by scammers and want to report it (even if the attempted scam wasn’t successful).
- Tell them about Victim Support (0808 168 9111), a charity providing practical and emotional support to people affected by crime, should they want someone to talk to about it.
If you are worried that someone is not getting the help they need with their personal care, or is not looking after themselves (for example, they are not washing and dressing themselves properly, or not eating enough), or that they are at risk from other types of abuse, you should:
- Call 999 if the person is in immediate danger
- If they are not at immediate risk, explain to the person that you are worried and think adult social care would be able to help. Ask them if they feel comfortable calling adult social services at their local council to make a safeguarding referral to get support.
- If they don’t feel able to do this, ask if they would like you to do this on their behalf
See our page protecting someone from abuse for more information.