Public Health England has launched a new campaign called Every Mind Matters to support people to manage their mental wellbeing during this difficult time.

Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters platform has launched new advice, focussed on looking after people’s mental wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It has been updated after new data shows over 4 in 5 (84.2%) Brits are worried about the effect that coronavirus is having on their life, with over half (53.1%) saying it was affecting their well-being and nearly half (46.9%) reporting high levels of anxiety.

With many feeling worried, anxious or isolated during these challenging times, Every Mind Matters highlights that there are lots of things we can all do to look after our mental wellbeing and help others to prevent these concerns from becoming more serious.

The range of new resources, designed specifically to help manage our mental wellbeing during coronavirus, include a tailored COVID-19 Mind Plan, COVID-19 specific content for individuals and their loved ones, and support for specific mental wellbeing issues such as anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping. The website signposts people to activities such as mindful breathing exercises, help to reframe unhelpful thoughts, and muscle relaxation.

To help get this vital message out there, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are supporting Every Mind Matters and have narrated a new short film which is set to be broadcast across national TV channels from Monday 20th April.

Alongside the new COVID-19 mental health support, Every Mind Matters encourages people to complete a personal ‘Mind Plan’, a quick and free interactive tool offering tailored mental well-being advice. More than 1.9 million ‘Mind Plans’ have been completed since the launch in October.

The NHS-endorsed content has been developed in partnership with clinicians, academics and leading mental health charities and social enterprises including Mind, Mental Health Foundation, Samaritans, Rethink, Mental Health First Aid England, the Royal Foundation, the Centre for Mental Health, Time to Change, NSUN, and What Works Wellbeing, and offers authoritative, evidence-based and practical support to the general public, as well as people with specific mental health concerns.

NHS’s Top 5 Tips for maintaining mental wellbeing during the Coronavirus outbreak (please view all tips on the Every Mind Matters website)

1. Talk about your worries: it is normal to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Maintain contact with friends and family via phone and video calls to share how you are feeling.

2. Keep a regular routine and set goals: you may need to set a new routine for now. Try writing a plan for your day with the things you can still do at home, like watching a film, reading a book or completing a puzzle. Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose. Maintaining good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically too, so it’s important to get enough (the Every Mind Matters sleep page provides practical advice on how to improve your sleep).

3. Manage your media and information intake: if 24-hour news and constant social media updates are making you worried, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to coverage of the outbreak to once or twice a day.

4. Do things you enjoy and try something new: focussing on your favourite hobby, learning something new, or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can help boost your mood. Look online for lots of free tutorials and courses.

5. Look after your body: our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. You can leave your house, alone or with members of your household, for one form of exercise a day – like a walk, run or bike ride. But make you keep a safe 2-metre distance from others.

20th April 2020. For more information go to

Supermarkets are facing mass legal action from disabled people left anxious and distressed because they are unable to buy food and other groceries during the coronavirus crisis.

At least 30 disabled people have instructed solicitors to begin legal action against various supermarkets for discriminating against them under the Equality Act by failing to make the reasonable adjustments needed for them to shop safely.

Many of them have found it impossible to order home deliveries online, because they are not in the small proportion of disabled people seen by the government as being “extremely clinically vulnerable”.

Some of those taking legal action are unable to shop safely in supermarkets because of the pandemic, while others are unable to travel to supermarkets for impairment-related reasons.

Some of the claimants could shop safely in-store if their local supermarket was willing to make reasonable adjustments for them, but are prevented from doing so, for example, by having to queue to enter the store – with no seats while they are waiting – or not being allowed to bring a companion with them to help them shop.

They also accuse the supermarkets of ignoring their written complaints.

Solicitors Fry Law, who are acting for the group, are still seeking other disabled people who have had problems with supermarkets since the COVID-19 pandemic began*.

Fry Law is taking the cases on a no-win no-fee basis, but it will not take any success fees – usually 25 per cent of the pay-out – if its clients secure any damages.

The supermarket chain that has drawn most complaints so far about breaches of the Equality Act is Sainsbury’s.

One of the claimants, who is autistic and a wheelchair-user, has described how the failure to secure regular deliveries from Sainsbury’s has been a “huge source of anxiety”, despite being an online customer for 10 years.

She says her email complaint to the supermarket had been ignored.

Although she is seen as being “at risk”, because of her health conditions, she is not one of the 1.5 million people in England on the government’s list of those most at risk from the virus and so is not seen as a priority for home deliveries, even though she receives the enhanced rates of personal independence payment for both daily living and mobility.

One night, she told Fry Law, she had to check the website multiple times between midnight and 5.30am to try to secure an available slot for a food delivery, before one eventually came up at 8.30am.

She said it had been “very distressing” to have such a disruption to her routine deliveries, and not to be able to order the food she usually eats, which has affected her strict menu planning and means “every day is a panic of what can I cook to eat”.

If she shopped in person, it would mean multiple risky trips to the supermarket because she would be unable to buy a week’s worth of groceries at a time, and would be unable to ask for help from staff and members of the public because of the need for social distancing.

A second disabled claimant, who has health conditions that put her at increased risk from the virus, and is a wheelchair-user, described how she had found the process of trying to secure online deliveries from Sainsbury’s “chaotic and stressful”.

She is unable to visit the supermarket and although she managed to register as one of those most at risk with Sainsbury’s, she said she had not found any delivery slots available, nearly two weeks later.

She found a “click and collect” slot by chance and has had to ask a volunteer to collect it for her.

She told Fry Law: “Both government policy and supermarket policy is leaving lots of us with no way to get food.

“I couldn’t get food before so why do they think I can suddenly get it now?

“If you are able to hold them accountable, that would be fantastic. We need to come out of this in a stronger position, not with our rights for equality eroded.”

Another of the disabled claimants, who is blind, described in his letter of claim to one of the supermarkets – not Sainsbury’s – how he had been forced to register with a local foodbank because of the difficulty of securing a home delivery, which he had found “degrading and stressful”.

He has managed to book only two deliveries in the last two months.

Chris Fry, founder of Fry Law, said some of the disabled people who were taking legal action were “living hand to mouth” and having to use foodbanks because it was impossible to obtain regular supplies of groceries.

He said: “We don’t want to be seen to be making things worse, but we can’t just sit back and let disabled people be ignored by the supermarkets.”

Fry said there were “fairly easy fixes” the supermarkets could use to make their services more accessible.

He said: “The supermarkets are making a substantial return at the moment, and as far as I am concerned the fix with this is fairly inexpensive.

“It’s really about re-allocating resources and changing websites to improve accessibility and finding ways to work with disabled people’s organisations, to work out what is necessary instead of trying to do it themselves.”

He said that one of the key concerns was the failure of the big retailers to talk to disabled customers and disabled people’s organisations about their concerns.

Fry said he hoped the supermarkets would resolve the legal action before Fry Law had to begin litigation which could end in court.

He said: “People are coming to us because they have been told that their complaint emails are being ignored as a matter of policy.

“They are clearly not disturbed by bad PR. Maybe they will be disturbed if they find themselves receiving hundreds of letters from lawyers.”

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it could not comment on ongoing legal cases.

But Andrew Opie, BRC’s director of food and sustainability, said: “While most supermarkets are ramping up their online delivery operations, these account for only about eight per cent of all food sales.

“It would be impossible to deliver to all of the 11-plus million people classified as long term ill, impaired or disabled in the UK.

“Supermarkets are focused on the most vulnerable, using lists provided by the government, and we urge everyone to do what they can to support elderly, vulnerable or disabled neighbours in getting the essentials they need from stores.”

He added: “Retailers are working with government to identify and support elderly, vulnerable and disabled customers.

“While they are increasing capacity to meet the large surge in demand and prioritising delivery to these groups where possible, many are also encouraging those who are able to shop in-store to do so.

“It is important to support one another during this pandemic and everyone should consider whether there are vulnerable neighbours they can support by shopping on their behalf.

“These measures will help alleviate the pressure on delivery services and ensure that slots are available for those with the greatest need.”

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s also said he could not comment on the legal case.

But he said Sainsbury’s was “committed to serving the nation’s most vulnerable people” and had been the first supermarket to prioritise all its delivery slots for “elderly and vulnerable customers”.

He said: “Initially we used our own existing data for elderly and vulnerable customers and helped others find delivery slots through our Careline team; now the government is helping supermarkets to identify the most vulnerable people.

“We have significantly increased our home delivery service. Four weeks ago, we had 370,000 online grocery slots available and we have now increased this to 600,000 across home delivery and click and collect.”

He also said that Sainsbury’s allowed personal assistants or carers to accompany “elderly or vulnerable customers” on their shopping trips, even though stores generally only allow one adult per family “to help adhere to the government guidance on social distancing”.

He added: “In addition to this, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all our supermarkets are dedicating 8am to 9am to prioritise store access to elderly customers, disabled customers and their carers.”

*To request that your case is added to the legal action, complete and submit this form

**Links to sources of information and support during the coronavirus pandemic include the following:


Inclusion London

Disability Rights UK

The Department of Health and Social Care

National Survivor User Network

Spinal Injuries Association

COVID Mutual Aid UK

Disability North

Disability Wales

Citizens Advice

16 April 2020. News provided by John Pring at

The government’s continuing failure to produce accessible information and guidance to help disabled people protect themselves during the coronavirus crisis is unacceptable and will cost lives, disabled people’s organisations have warned.

Disabled campaigners spoke out after the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) failed yet again to publish guidance for disabled people who use direct payments and employ personal assistants (PAs) on how to protect themselves and their staff during the pandemic.

It is now more than a month since DHSC published its first COVID-19 action plan (3 March).

Tomorrow (Friday), it will be four weeks since ministers produced guidance for the wider social care sector, which was aimed at service-providers in the residential care, supported living and home care sectors, but not at disabled people who employ their own PAs.

Last week, a DHSC spokesperson said that guidance for disabled people who use direct payments would be published “shortly”.

But DHSC had not responded to a request for updated information by noon today (Thursday), more than a week after that promise was made.

Inclusion London, the pan-London disabled people’s organisation, said the government’s ongoing failure to produce “accessible and targeted information and guidance” for Deaf and disabled people was not acceptable.

Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, said: “The additional stress, confusion and anxiety this is causing cannot be overestimated. It will also cost lives.”

As well as the failure to produce guidance for recipients of direct payments, she also pointed to the lack of a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter at the daily televised UK government COVID-19 briefings, and the failure to produce information on how to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect disabled people and their PAs from the virus.

She said: “Both local and central government must act now.

“We need accessible, consistent and clear guidance from both central and local government on a range of welfare, Access to Work and social care/direct payments issues including PPE.

“We also need local authorities to urgently and actively work with Deaf and disabled people’s organisations to develop information, guidance and resources that directly address our priority needs and concerns.”

Mark Williams, from the grassroots disabled people’s organisation Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL), said: “As an employer of PAs I have been dismayed and horrified at the lack of information for individual disabled people who employ PAs.

“At the moment, with the country in lockdown, we are one of the few remaining areas of essential employment trying to carry on as normal, but we need to have the right equipment and information to do that.

“The failure to provide any information puts many disabled people’s lives on the line, and PAs are starting to refuse to come to work.”

Williams said he watched press conferences every day from the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments, but the UK government’s press conference in London was the only one where there was no BSL interpreter.

A BRIL spokesperson added: “People are already feeling under threat; the lack of guidance from central government is adding to the anxiety felt by hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

“We know that people with direct payments, their PAs and families desperately need both additional support and accurate information.

“While some local authorities are working with Deaf and disabled people’s organisations (DDPOs) and being proactive, the overall picture across the country is very increasingly worrying.”

He added: “Grassroots groups, self-advocates and organisations are working together to produce EasyRead and BSL information.

“While this is increasing the pressure on groups who were already struggling before the pandemic, it’s shown how vital our knowledge and experience is, and that we can work together.”

Meanwhile, online meetings held by Inclusion London with 14 of the DDPOs it supports have uncovered some of the many issues facing disabled people and their user-led organisations as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

They include a lack of guidance and information from local and national government; difficulties communicating with social services and the Department for Work and Pensions; problems accessing food and PPE; increasing mental distress and isolation; the higher workload facing advice and support staff; funding problems faced by DDPOs; and concerns about individual disabled people “slipping through the net” if they cannot access phone or online support.

But they also heard how DDPOs in the capital were responding to the crisis, including distributing food and food vouchers; collecting prescriptions for disabled people; using new volunteers to provide telephone support; holding daily phone meetings with the local authority; and using volunteers to provide telephone befriending.

A key message, according to Lazard’s report on the online meetings, was the need to “keep taking about equality, rights and co-production and challenge the thinking that is increasingly viewing us, again, as just vulnerable and passive recipients of care”.

*Links to sources of information and support during the coronavirus pandemic include the following:


Inclusion London

Disability Rights UK

The Department of Health and Social Care

National Survivor User Network

Spinal Injuries Association

COVID Mutual Aid UK

Disability North

Disability Wales

Citizens Advice

9 April 2020. News provided by John Pring at



A leading disabled Baptist minister fears that many disabled people could be left to starve to death because of the failure of the government and supermarkets to ensure they have a way to buy food during the coronavirus crisis.

The Rev Glen Graham has launched a petition with his wife Rowan to highlight their concerns and persuade the government and retailers to take urgent action.

Graham is blind, while his wife has only limited sight and several long-term health conditions, and they warn in their petition that many disabled people have been forgotten in the government’s emergency COVID-19 measures.

Last week, the government announced that 1.5 million disabled people had been categorised as “extremely vulnerable” to the virus and will receive regular deliveries of basic groceries if they do not have their own support network of friends and family.

Depending on demand, hundreds of thousands of boxes could be delivered each week, the government said this week.

The list includes those with severe respiratory conditions, many people on immunosuppression therapies, and those with certain cancers.

But supermarkets are being allowed to use the government database to prioritise their own home deliveries – although it is not yet clear how many supermarkets are doing so – and many disabled customers are being told they will only be considered for a delivery if they are on this restricted list.

This could leave millions of disabled people who cannot safely shop independently, or in many cases cannot even leave their homes, and who therefore have been left without a way to buy food.

Increasing concerns have been raised by the Grahams and other disabled people who say it is now impossible for them to order food online, because all the delivery slots are permanently booked.

Graham is minister at a Devon Baptist church and chair of the Churches for All network of disability-related Christian organisations, but is not speaking on their behalf.

He told Disability News Service: “I fear that people will be forgotten about. People could go hungry. People could starve to death.

“If I was a government person, I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.”

Many of those responding to the petition have raised fears for their own safety.

One said: “I am registered blind and I am not classed as vulnerable. There are no online delivery slots for weeks and I need help to do my shopping.

“I can’t go to the supermarket as I have no transportation and couldn’t carry bags on the bus even if one was running at regular intervals. I am stuck without food for myself and my dog and cats.”

Another said: “Can’t get any shopping online can’t go out it’s like we have been left to starve at home forgotten about.”

A third petition supporter said: “I am a totally blind mum of three children, working full time, but I cannot book any supermarket slot.

“I believe when I go out and try to go shopping that exposes me to the risk of falling ill yet somehow I have to feed our family.”

Graham, who advises the Baptist Church on disability issues, said: “We could cope better if we could make sure of the [delivery] service that has helped us all along.

“Yet again our choices are being limited. Most of the public can choose when to go shopping.

“At the moment, all we can choose to do is hope for the benevolence of someone else if they are free and able. That’s a very risky business.

“It does demoralise you, because the independence you have is locked down with you in the lockdown.”

The Grahams live in the Exeter area and managed just before the crisis worsened last month to book a delivery of groceries, which was delivered on Monday this week, but they have been unable to find any other delivery slots.

They believe they will now have to continue to rely on the kindness of friends who have been delivering fresh food to them.

Rowan Graham said: “We have friends who are leaving perishables for us and also helping out the elderly people in their own villages as well, but how long will they be able to keep that going?”

She said that she and her husband had gone overnight from being independent to being “extremely vulnerable” because of the loss of their ability to book food deliveries online.

She said: “The government has made us extremely vulnerable. I am trying not to be concerned about it but 95 per cent of our shopping has always been done online and the other five per cent by our cleaner.

“People will starve if they are not already doing so. They will starve to death.”

She said some of the stories from disabled people who have already signed their petition were “heart-breaking”.

She called on the government and retailers to provide more delivery slots to disabled people not in the “extremely vulnerable” group.

Her husband said this would “solve a whole load of problems” and would ensure both “safety” and “empowerment” for disabled people.

He said: “We are hearing all this stuff about ‘we are in it together’, but unless there is a widening of that group, we are not in it together. It simply isn’t true.”

*Sources of information and support during the coronavirus pandemic include the following:


Inclusion London

Disability Rights UK

The Department of Health and Social Care

National Survivor User Network

Spinal Injuries Association

COVID Mutual Aid UK

Disability North

Disability Wales

Citizens Advice

2 April 2020. News provided by John Pring at