South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the creation of a new national helpline which is designed to help provide essential assistance for those who don’t have a network of support but who are at high risk of contracting Covid-19.

The service, which is open during office hours (9 am to 5 pm) as of today (Tuesday), will offer help for those who are not in the shielding category but who are over 70; disabled people; those who require the support of mental health services; those who are pregnant and those who receive the flu jab for health reasons.

Callers will be automatically connected to their local authority who will support them to access the service they need, such as:

  • essential food and medication
  • links to local social work services for vulnerable children or adults
  • emotional support
  • contact with local volunteer groups

Colin Smyth has urged anyone who might require assistance during this difficult time to call the number as soon as possible.

This phone number is in addition to the support being offered locally to those being told to shield themselves. However, the Scottish Government says anyone in the shielding category who are not yet receiving assistance and who do not have family who can help or who cannot get online can also access support via this new helpline.

Anyone in Dumfries and Galloway in the shielding category and who received a letter on the subject, can call 01387 260 600 or e-mail for help.

Colin Smyth said: “I welcome the creation of this new helpline, it is essential that nobody falls through the gaps during this frightening and stressful time.

“I would urge anyone who requires assistance to call the number (0800 111 4000) and discuss the help they will be able to access. This can be anything from help with shopping to wider care. Thousands of vulnerable people have been in lockdown now for weeks and may need a bit of extra support that they should not hesitate to ask for.

“This new helpline is for anyone requiring support however several elderly and vulnerable constituents contacted me recently to say they received a shielding letter but that it only gave a number to text or a website to contact.

“Obviously many older and vulnerable people do not have a mobile phone or access to the internet, so a phone call is the only option.

“Local people who received a letter who require shielding support locally, therefore can call the local council shielding team on 01387 260 600 to discuss their needs if they haven’t already been contacted.

“Dumfries and Galloway Council is doing a good job helping the thousands of people who require shielding but having this extra national number for those who don’t meet the shielding criteria is very welcome.”

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