#ComfortInCrisis – caring for pets during the COVID-19 outbreak

Several constituents have highlighted concerns about different aspects of caring for their pets during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sources of advice and information about continuing to care for pets and keep them healthy during this crisis are available from both government and animal charity and welfare organisations.
Firstly, pet owners can find the latest government advice here: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-people-with-animals
Information and advice approved by 16 of the country’s leading animal organisations is also available in one central location here: www.cfsg.org.uk/coronavirus/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/
These infographics also provide basic information on looking after pets and walking someone else’s dog safely during the crisis.

COVID-19 guidance for the youth work sector

The spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a significant impact on Scotland’s youth work sector, changing the landscape in which it operates and the way it can work with young people.

Youthlink Scotland is providing guidance on how practitioners can move  their youth work offer online, as well as signposting vital information and services to help navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead.

A full range of guidance and information, including frequently asked questions from the youth work sector in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, can be found on Youthlink Scotland’s Coronavirus Information Hub at www.youthlinkscotland.org/covid-19-guidance/

Coronavirus updates from Law Society of Scotland

Like most aspects of society, the coronavirus epidemic is having a dramatic impact on Scotland’s justice system and placing enormous pressure on the legal profession.

The Law Society of Scotland has been undertaking a range of activities to support solicitors in dealing with this challenge.

It is continuing to monitor official advice and updates from the Scottish Government and NHS to ensure it is acting in accordance with the latest guidance to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, members and stakeholders.

As well as responding to the crisis, the Society is also continuing to carry out its duties as the professional body for Scottish solicitors and provide services for its members and for members of the public.

All the latest updates and information for members of the legal profession and those interacting with solicitors and the justice system can be found on the Law Society of Scotland’s website at www.lawscot.org.uk/news-and-events/law-society-news/coronavirus-updates/.



Local resilience arrangements to help vulnerable people

Information from East Lothian Council on how it is supporting local community resilience arrangements to help support vulnerable people through the COVID-19 outbreak:

Across the county, volunteers are already providing a significant amount of help and support for neighbours and fellow residents.

Supported by collaboration and co-ordination from our Connected Community Managers in local areas, we are keen to ensure existing community groups are able to continue making a difference in supporting vulnerable people in critical need.

Resilience groups can help in a number of ways – for example collecting shopping, essential supplies and supporting people in emergency need of care.

This could be particularly useful for people who are not able to leave their home, for example if they are self isolating and/or unwell.

What to do if you need help

Anyone requiring assistance from their local community resilience group can:

We will then make the appropriate linkages to enable you to be provided with assistance locally.

Volunteer register

Can you help? In collaboration with STRiVE, a volunteer registration service is being established to connect well and willing ‘new’ volunteers with their local resilient community group’s efforts. You can register your interest on the STRiVE website.

Resilient community groups are made up of volunteers, usually attached to community councils, to support their own communities  when there is a major disruption to services – for example during ‘Beast from the East’. Such organised groups provide re-assurance communication and structures to allow a well organised response to be made. The volunteer registration service will help people in communities who are not already connected to a community group/organisation, to provide details of their skills and availability to participate in local volunteering efforts.


Depute Council Leader Councillor Norman Hampshire said:

“There is a phenomenal amount of volunteering going on across our communities already. Neighbours are helping neighbours and looking after the less able in their communities supported by local resilience groups. We are keen to help support and grow this network, and ensure that community spirit continues to flourish even in these worrying times.”

Update from Scottish Retail Consortium

The Scottish Retail Consortium has issued updated advice and information on the way retailers are responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and what the public can expect to see in stores following the latest advice from the Government:

  • Social distancing measures: particularly in the most crowded areas such as serving counters and tills. These will include floor markings, signs, lanes and announcements in store. Limitations to the number of people allowed in store at one time, particularly for smaller stores. Queueing measures outside stores that ensure stores are not overcrowded.
  • Protective equipment: use of personal protective equipment by staff and other measures to reduce contact and ensure staff and customer safety.
  • Protected shopping times: for the elderly, vulnerable and essential workers and changes to operating hours in some stores.
  • Getting essentials on the shelves: In order to maximise production of key goods, you may see slightly different brands, or fewer options of one product on the shelves. There are also limits on the number of products you can purchase at any one time.
  • Card payments encouraged: as this reduces the risk of contact (The limit for contactless payments has been raised to £45 to reduce the need for people to enter their pins on card machine keyboards).
  • Handwashing facilities (this may be dependent upon the size and layout of the store).

These measures are designed to minimise the risk to customers and staff. However, retailers cannot do that alone.

The SRC and retailers are also encouraging the public to help by:

  • Self-isolating at home if you are showing symptoms and remember coughing and sneezing etiquette; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the crook of your elbow (not your hands). Put tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Staying at home unless you require essential supplies or are getting exercise (once a day).
  • Washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Being kind to colleagues in store who are working hard to ensure you have access to the products you need.
  • Socially distancing when you are out, keeping 2 metres apart from others in shops and queues. You should always feel confident to ask others to take a step back.
  • Buying only what you need: shop considerately so that everyone can get access to the goods they need. If we shop responsibly there is enough for everyone.
  • Respecting dedicated shopping hours: these exist to protect vulnerable people and our hard-working emergency and essential workers.

Find the latest information, advice and news from the Scottish Retail Consortium at http://brc.org.uk/src/

“Shop Local, Shop Little” campaign

Much of the focus on maintaining access to food, medicine and other essential supplies has understandably been on our supermarkets and the steps they have taken in response to the coronavirus crisis.

However, thousands of small, independent convenience stores around the UK are also working hard to support local people during the crisis and need the same understanding and respect from the public.

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN), one of the trade associations representing independent convenience retailers, is taking a number of steps to support and inform its members.

It has launched a “Shop Local, Shop Little” campaign with the aim of reminding customers to use their local shops at a time when the media has been focused on the supermarkets and to encourage people to only buy what they need.

A range of posters promoting the campaign and targeting customers on issues such as social distancing, use of contactless payments and revised opening hours are also available for its members to download.

Retailers and customers can find out more about NFRN’s work at https://nfrnonline.com/protect/covid-19-information-advice/

Service update from Openreach

Openreach have contacted MSPs with the latest information about its services for businesses and households in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The best place to go for up to date information about Openreach’s services and its approach is its website and the section dedicated to Covid-19/Coronavirus www.openreach.com/covid-19-coronavirus.

These pages will be kept up to date with the latest information from the company. Openreach is also urging people to consult the websites of their own Communications Providers (CPs) as they are keeping their customers informed.

The sector has also published specific guidance, agreed with the Government, as to how vulnerable customers will be supported during the crisis www.gov.uk/government/news/government-agrees-measures-with-telecoms-companies-to-support-vulnerable-consumers-through-covid-19

Anyone with enquiries about superfast or ultrafast fibre broadband availability, is being asked to access Openreach’s fibre broadband availability checker on its website www.openreach.com/fibre-broadband.

Coronavirus update from Post Office Ltd

The Chief Executive of Post Office Ltd has written to MSPs on its response to the coronavirus  (COVID-19) pandemic.

As an essential service, Post Office is working hard to ensure that customers, especially the vulnerable and the elderly, can continue to access vital services while protecting their health and wellbeing along with that of postmasters and colleagues.

Branches will remain open wherever possible and postmasters have been provided with updated guidance on hand washing and hygiene to enable business to continue.

Additionally, in the coming days and weeks, Post Office will also be distributing and installing Perspex screens in branches across the network.  Each postmaster has also been provided with in-store signage to encourage customers to follow Government guidance on staying two metres apart whilst in branch.

As key workers, independent postmasters and their staff are continuing to keep their branches open to provide vital services, particularly to elderly and vulnerable people, despite an overall reduction in transactions and revenue.

Post Office is guaranteeing that all independent Postmasters will receive 100% of their remuneration in April and 90% in May.  8,000 independent Post Offices will benefit from this guarantee, which will be kept under review if public health advice to stay at home continues.

Find all the latest information and updates from Post Office, including on Post Office Card Account customers, at www.postoffice.co.uk/coronavirus

Health advice for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions

Asthma UK and partner charity the British Lung Foundation are providing ongoing advice for people with asthma, especially those with the most severe form of the condition, and other lung conditions on their websites and social media.

People with severe respiratory conditions, including all those with cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD, should have already been identified and sent a letter or text message advising them to shield for 12 weeks.

Other people with respiratory conditions will also need to be vigilant about how they can stay safe and healthy during this period, especially if they display any COVID-19 symptoms.

Anyone with a lung condition who has immediate concerns or queries about their health, or that of someone else, can call:

    • Asthma Helpline: 0300 222 5800
    • Other lung conditions helpline: 03000 030 555

For the latest information and advice from Asthma UK, visit www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/

For more information about other lung conditions, visit the British Lung Foundation website at www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus

Coronavirus and maintaining mental wellbeing

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is putting additional physical and mental strain on people as we face new challenges and pressures on a daily basis.

Many of us are feeling worried or stressed about how coronavirus could affect our lives, as well as our loved ones.

Individuals and families are having to practice social distancing or self-isolation, which could affect the activities you usually take part in to maintain your mental health.

There are ways you can protect your mental wellbeing and connect with others, despite the ongoing coronavirus situation.

The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) have created a hub of information and guidance about looking after mental health as the coronavirus developments continue.

SAMH will continue to update this page to help you find ways to protect your mental wellbeing during these difficult times.

Find out more at samh.org.uk/coronavirus