Covid-19: Pathways for accessing support in Birmingham
As a city Birmingham has responded brilliantly to the problems created by the coronavirus outbreak, with citizens, charities, faith groups, Birmingham City Council, the NHS and other public services all pulling together. We know the upheaval is presenting a significant challenge for individuals, which can affect you differently depending on the circumstances of your life.
If you are in need of support, the way you need to access it depends on who you are and what you need. The information provided below is to enable you to get the quickest access to the help you need to keep safe and maintain your wellbeing.
This information does not include how to access services provided by the NHS. If you are unwell please call 111 or in the event of an emergency 999.
Before engaging with any of the help offered below, we would ask you to consider three questions:
- Could the help you need be provided by friends and family?
The majority of informal support delivered across the city will be offered by people who already know each other. The social distancing requirements allow for many different types of support to be provided by friends and family. This needs to be undertaken safely. If you need some help to think through how this can be done please contact Birmingham City Council.
- Could you get the help you need in the way you did before the coronavirus outbreak?
Although there has been significant disruption to many of the systems around the city please don’t assume your existing ways of getting help don’t work. If you accessed support from Birmingham City Council, a charity or a company prior to the coronavirus outbreak and you need similar support this is the first place to try and get help. For example, you may be able to access support from a designated social worker or carer.
- Could you pay for what you need?
Many of us have experienced disruption in our lives and now need support in order to access the goods and services we used to purchase in a shop. Whilst it is not appropriate for everyone, many of the shops selling the essentials we need to buy are still open. You are still able to buy things over the internet. If you have access to the internet, but previously accessed goods and services through physical shops, now may be the time to learn how to do more of your shopping on-line. With everyone switching over to internet shopping you may find this challenging, but please try to utilise this way of accessing what you need if at all possible.
If the above options do not work for you, there are a number of ways of accessing additional support.
Covid-19 Mutual Aid
Mutual aid groups are collections of citizens who are offering help in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Groups are operating at a local level to support people who are impacted by the virus or the social restrictions that are needed to keep everyone safe.
This is not an organisational offer or a service, but a way of supporting individuals to provide help.
You may have received some information through the door to advise you who to contact if you need help, but you can also search the website https://covidmutualaid.org/ for groups local to you.
Citizens providing support to each other at a time of crisis is critical to keeping the city going, but please keep in mind that this is not a managed service. If you, or a loved one, is a vulnerable person please think carefully about the appropriateness of your ask from these groups. If you do have any concerns please contact the Safeguarding Teams. Click the links below to find out how to contact the teams.
If you are looking to support your local community you may wish to contact the groups and find out how to get involved. If you would like to set up something in your area, the website above is the best place to access tools to support you in doing so. If you are running a local group please register with this website so others can access your support, and you can be supported to make the most effective contribution.
Support from Charities
The Route 2 Wellbeing Birmingham Portal is a directory of wellbeing services across Birmingham, provided by the local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. In order to help people find essential support during this difficult time, we have added a range of services and activities under a new category ‘COVID-19 Support’. This support is either specific to helping people during the crisis, or services that are able to continue running in a different capacity.
The portal can be found at https://r2wbirmingham.info/
We have added over 100 services and activities offered by a wide range of organisations and groups across Birmingham, with more to be populated over the coming days and weeks. The range of support offered includes; food shopping, food banks, financial advice, mental health, befriending, carers support, drug and alcohol support, homelessness, general community support, mutual aid groups and more.
If you know of services in your area for listing on the Route 2 Wellbeing portal, please email: r2wbirmingham[at]bvsc[dot]org.
You can search through the category for support most relevant to you, either by entering a key word (e.g. befriending) or by distance from a post code – where you can set your location on the main page. Bear in mind that due to current circumstances a large number of services will be Helpline or Website only.
If you have received a communication from the NHS suggesting you need to ‘shelter’ for 12 weeks you are entitled to support from central government. If you believe you have been missed please register online or contact 0121 303 1116.
If you are unable to access food, but have not been asked to ‘shelter’ by the NHS you can self-refer to the Active Wellbeing Society. They are working with foodbanks and different food charities to get food out to people’s residences: https://theaws.co.uk/relief
Disabled citizens can access support from Midland Mencap who are offering a reach out service and can undertake on their behalf shopping, food deliveries, prescription collections etc. The service can be accessed via 0121 427 6404.
Find help in your area
Birmingham is a large city and accessing the help you need can be challenging. If you are unsure of what you need or what is available there are 10 contact points across the city where you can talk to someone about what is on offer.
The contact points are based around the constituency you are in (which area your MP represents). If you are unsure which one you are in you can use this tool to work it out from your postcode https://members.parliament.uk/constituencies/
These contact points are another great way to offer your services as a volunteer at this time. These contact points are listed at the end of this document.
Helpline for the most vulnerable citizens
The council has launched an emergency response hub to ensure access to support is available for our most vulnerable citizens.
The service will prioritise those in critical need who have received a letter from NHS England stating they are in a priority group, or those that are self-isolating for shorter periods but are unable to rely on family or friends for adequate practical support. This may be in relation to:
- emergency food supplies
- social contact
The Council will be signposting and connecting vulnerable citizens who have no assistance from family or friends and need help from voluntary organisations and community groups for support, which may be provided by the council or the voluntary sector.
If people are able to use existing help and support from family and friends, we’re asking them to please continue to do this, so we can focus on our most vulnerable citizens.
Please spread the word to appropriate people on how to access this support:
- Online information: birmingham.gov.uk/coronavirus_advice
- Online support request: here
- By phone: 0121 303 1116 (Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm)
Mental health support
Birmingham & Solihull CCG is coordinating a range of new, easily accessible mental health support services, based around four groups:
0-18 year olds in Birmingham
0-19 year olds in Solihull
Over 18s in Birmingham and Solihull
Covid-19 contact points for Birmingham Constituencies
Edgbaston - Age UK Birmingham & Gateway Family Services
Erdington – Witton Lodge Community Association
Hall Green – Accord
Hodge Hill – POhWER
Tel: 0121 726 8577
Ladywood – Birmingham Settlement
Northfield – Northfield Community Partnership
Tel: 0333 772 1931
Perry Barr – Birmingham City Council Development & Support Unit
Tel: 07917 643626
Selly Oak - Birmingham City Council NDSU
Sutton Coldfield – Age Concern Birmingham
Yardley – Disability Resource Centre
Tel: 03030 40 20 40