Update 20 May: We have decided to suspend the SitRep Updates. If the situation changes and we feel they are needed again, we might start updating the SitRep again. We continue to publish some information on our Facebook site: here. That's the best place for following our work.
The Oxfordshire Community Situation Report (SitRep) is a community resource that is created by and for the local Oxfordshire community. We, the Oxfordshire Virus Action group, are a group of local residents concerned with the unfolding Covid-19 crisis, the ongoing crises this crisis helps unveil (e.g. health, working conditions), and the lack of a clear, consistent, and effective response from the UK government. We offer our SitRep as an act of service. The SitRep pulls together and shares verified information on a number of topics of interest to our communities in this present moment. It is updated twice a week, Monday and Thursday, by 5 pm. If you are just interested in the new information that has been added with the latest update, you can find the latest updates by clicking 'Home' at the top of this page and scrolling down. Alternatively, you can click here: LINK, and scroll down.
We hope you find our SitRep useful. If you do, please share, disseminate, discuss.
We need your contribution. If there’s anything you think should be included, please send it to us by email to .
Last updated: 11th May 2020
Please click on the section name to scroll to the section.
People tested sick in the UK: 219,183 (11/05/2020), Public Health England (PHE).
People tested sick in Oxfordshire: 1741 (11/05/2020), PHE.
Deaths from Coronavirus in UK hospitals: 31,855 (11/05/2020), PHE.
Sources of Information
BBC Oxford – Local and national news including on Coronavirus at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-51851438
Oxford Mail – Local news on Coronavirus at https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/yourtown/oxford/
NHS Oxford – the latest health advice can be found on their website https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19/
Coronavirus health advice in various languages is available at
https://healthwatchoxfordshire.co.uk/coronavirus/ under 'Translations' and at https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information
Government and Council Updates
Update Sunday 10 May: Boris Johnson has announced several changes to the government's response to the crisis. A new five-tier Covid Alert Level (CAL) has been introduced, with corresponding social distancing measures - a higher CAL will mean stricter measures, and a lower CAL will mean more relaxed measures. He has announced that people who cannot work from home, such as those working in construction or manufacturing, should return to work if they can, but should avoid public transport. Unlimited outside exercise is now permitted. You must still follow social distancing guidelines in public spaces, and fines for failing to do so are to be increased shortly. For more details, you can read the full address here.
On Monday, 23 March, the UK government announced that for at least three weeks you can only go out for the following reasons:
to shop for food, medicine, and other essentials (as infrequently as possible);
to exercise once daily, alone or with members of your household only;
for any medical needs;
to provide care or help to a vulnerable person;
to travel to and from work if you're a key worker;
for essential moves (e.g. homeless people leaving temporary accommodation, person fleeing from domestic abuse);
for an immediate family member’s funeral;
children under 18 whose parents live in separate households can move between households;
major construction work (such as housing developments).
On Thursday, April 16, the UK government announced that the lockdown will be prolonged by a further three weeks. All activities outside the house should be undertaken alone - or with members of your household only. Gatherings of more than two people apart from essential work or small funerals are banned. Couples who live apart should not be meeting or visiting each other. The police can issue fines and use "reasonable force" to enforce the lockdown.
All non-essential businesses and services are closed. Only the following remain open:
Supermarkets and other food shops
Pharmacies, including non-dispensing pharmacies
Home and hardware shops
Laundrettes and dry cleaners
Corner shops and newsagents
Other measures and information
A new Government fund to help dairy farmers in England cope with the outbreak has been launched - see here
Anyone in England with coronavirus symptoms who either has to leave home to go to work or is aged 65 and over will now be able to get tested. See here
A new life assurance scheme has been launched for eligible frontline health and care workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The families of eligible workers who die from coronavirus in the course of their frontline essential work will receive a £60,000 payment. The scheme will cover frontline NHS staff and social care workers in England, and funding is being provided for a similar scheme in Scotland, NI and Wales.
April 26: Farmers and vets are now on the list of essential workers who can get tested for Coronavirus - here
Essential moves - such as those fleeing domestic abuse or homeless people leaving temporary accommodation - should still continue under the lockdown. New guidance for landlords can be found here
After significant public pressure, the UK government has announced an inquiry into the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on BAME communities. While black and minority ethnic people make up only 14% of the UK’s population, they account for 35% of all coronavirus patients in intensive care. Source: Link
Rules on data sharing have been relaxed to speed up the Coronavirus emergency response: Link
The Government has released new guidance on funerals - more people can now attend funerals as long as social distncing guidelines are observed. New guidelines: here
The Government has increased the Working Tax Credit (WTC) and Child Benefits - Link
The Government has published new advice for driving instructors: here
Oxfordshire County Council
Oxford County Council has made further changes to its addiction recovery, weight management and sexual health services - Link
Garden waste collection, bookings for the collection of excess household waste and collection of bulky items has been suspended
Household Waste Recycling Centres (including Dix Pit at Stanton Harcourt) are now closed
All district registration offices are closed until further notice. The Oxford Register Office remains open for death and still-birth registrations, by appointment only.
Residents who have been doing shopping on behalf of a vulnerable or self-isolating person should continue to do so, being careful to follow previous social distancing guidance
Building projects across Oxford funded by the public are being put on hold for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Oxford City Council
Oxford City Council has launched an online directory to help people deal with the financial impact of the pandemic on their lives. Please do get support here and share with friends and family, so that anyone who needs support can get it: here
Parking charges in City Centre car parks - Oxpens, Gloucester Green & Worcester St. - are waived for keyworkers.
The council is working to provide up to 100 hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness or staying in dorm-style accommodation; increase its outreach work; and is working with The Porch to establish a mobile food delivery service. More city centre hotel and college rooms are still needed; please contact the rough sleeping team on 01865 249811 if you are able to help.
The council reception at St. Aldate's is closed.
Parks remain open as long as social distancing is observed; communal areas such as tennis courts are closed.
Public toilets are now closed except for those on Market Street, Gloucester Green and Speedwell Street.
Routine inspections and home visits for private sector tenants are being suspended except in the event of an emergency such as no heating, flooding, risk of collapse etc.
The Council is no longer accepting cash or cheque payments either in person or in the post.
Garden waste collections to resume in Oxford this week, April 4th: here
South Oxfordshire District Council
Grant applications for small businesses in South and Vale are now live - £10,000 is available for all business in receipt of small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR) with a rateable value up to and including £15,000 as at 11 March 2020. You can find more information and apply here - http://www.whitehorsedc.gov.uk/business/business-rates (Vale) and here - http://www.southoxon.gov.uk/business/business-rates (South)
South Oxfordshire District Council have put together a guide for businesses and individuals facing financial hardship due to the crisis:
West Oxfordshire District Council
West Oxfordshire District Council is now sending out regular newsletters updating businesses on how to react to the Coronavirus crisis. See the latest one and sign up for updates at http://socsi.in/NC8Gg
West Oxfordshire District Council are still looking for hotels, B&Bs, caravan parks and other accommodation in order to house homeless residents - please contact if you can help
West Oxfordshire District Council (WODC) has announced it is closing all its front desks but will continue to provide services it offers and provide face to face support in emergency cases - Link
Vale of White Horse
All parking charges in district council car parks in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse have been suspended
Vale of White Horse district council are no longer collecting batteries, textiles, and small electrical items.
Vale of White Horse District Council is offering garden waste collection again
New food businesses in Cherwell - including those offering home delivery services - need to register with the District Council. See here
Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington markets have been cancelled until further notice.
Cherwell residents can now hire wheelie bins from the Council to remove excess garden waste: here
Information and Support
Health - Services and advice
Latest health advice can be found at the NHS Oxfordshire website: Link
If you are unwell, please seek help. GP surgeries are still open for telephone consultations and you will be seen in person if absolutely necessary. A&E is still available for people who need to be there, whatever your age. See link. You can use your internet device to contact your GP, order prescriptions online, manage long-term health conditions and, maintain your physical and mental wellbeing. See here.
Healthwatch Oxfordshire, Oxford Community Action Group, and the Somali, Syrian, Sudanese, East Timorese, and East African communities in Oxford have teamed up to produce coronavirus information leaflets in Somali, Arabic, Tetum, and Swahili. Over 700 leaflets have already been distributed to households. Please download the leaflets here under 'Translations'.
Public Health England advice translated: Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Urdu, and Romani resources can be downloaded here: Link
Oxford Mutual Aid have compiled a list of GP surgeries in Oxford - you can find the full list, along with the contact details of your surgery here.
How long does it take to recover from Coronavirus? Recovery time depends on how sick you became in the first place. Some people will shrug off the illness fast but, for others it could leave lasting problems. Age, class, race, gender and other health issues all increase the risk of being more seriously ill from COVID-19. The more invasive the treatment you received, and the longer it is performed, the longer recovery is likely to take.
Have you had Covid-19? If you're within 28 days of recovery, please consider donating plasma to help treat others! More information on this clinical trial here
Diabetes hotline: local NHS trusts have set up a new dedicated diabetes hotline for patients who need urgent clinical advice during the Covid-19 pandemic. The number is 01865 857357 - 8am-4pm, seven days a week. Outside these hours, please call 0300 3047777. Patients can also email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see Link
The NHS has released guidelines on how to support staff who are fasting during Ramadan (23/04-23/05): https://people.nhs.uk/guides/covid-19-and-ramadan/
The NHS have introduced a confidential staff support line, operated by the Samaritans and free to access from 7.00 am – 11.00 pm, seven days a week. Alternatively, staff can text FRONTLINE to 85258 for support 24/7 via text, or access one of the free apps listed here - https://people.nhs.uk/help/
A government guide on getting tested for keyworkers and frontline healthcare staff. can be found here.
There have been some changes to local health services, including Health Visitor services, drug and alcohol recovery services, and sexual health services - details here: Link
The NHS has launched a status checker tool to allow it to better coordinate the response to crisis. If you have or think you have symptoms of Covid-19, please access it here.
Children's health: The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is concerned that sick children are not being seen by health professionals early enough because of the Covid-19 pandemic (because parents are worried about their children becoming infected with Covid-19 in healthcare settings, or do not want to "bother" NHS staff). If your child is very unwell, contact your GP or call NHS 111. If you are very worried, go to A&E.
The Government has also launched a free WhatsApp Coronavirus information service - to use it, add 07860 064422 as a contact and send them a message (such as 'hi'): Link
The NHS is offering a new service where sick patients can get an online sick form after an assessment by a doctor. This service can be accessed here: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ (Click on ‘Start Now’ and answer a few questions).
Researchers at King's College London and Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital in London have created a Covid-19 symptom tracker in an effort to track the pandemic in the absence (so far) of community testing. They need as many people as possible to download it and report how they are feeling every day, whether or not they are ill. Get the app at https://covid.joinzoe.com
Oxfordshire Period Drive is a network of small local hubs distributing sanitary products. Request sanitary products here: LINK
Trans Related Medical Care
Access to trans-related medical care: See the latest gender clinic guidance at Link. There is also a private Oxfordshire trans healthcare Facebook group especially for sharing advice and resources during the Covid-19 crisis - message Jack Doyle (of Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid) directly to be added.
If you cannot visit a loved one in hospital, you can now send them a letter. See here
Services to treat minor injuries in Oxfordshire will run with reduced hours and some close as clinical staff are redeployed to help the NHS fight the growing coronavirus outbreak. More details can be found here: Link
John Radcliffe Hospital has announced a ban on visitors, with the exceptions of those visiting end-of-life patients and one parent for sick children.
The latest guidance on dental treatment can be found here. Patients with urgent needs will be offered advice and prescriptions over the phone by their usual practices. If you are a routine patient of the Community Dental Service, please call 01865 904060. If you are not registered with any practice, call NHS 111.
@QuitforCovid are providing a range of resources on Twitter to help those trying to quit smoking: https://twitter.com/QuitforCovid
Free parking for NHS staff:
From Great Western Railway: Link
At work: here
Free parking for NHS staff and other keyworkers in Oxford City Council's city centre car parks (Oxpens, Gloucester Green, Worcester Street). Place a note in your car window saying which essential service you work for.
At the Westgate Centre. Show your NHS card.
At the White Horse pub (corner of Headley Way and London Road)
Concessionary bus passes are valid all day on Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel and Stagecoach services, rather than being limited to off-peak times.
All Oxford Tube services are suspended until further notice.
Stagecoach bus services have been reduced. Find their reduced timetables here.
Oxford Bus Company has reduced services. An updated schedule can be found here.
Vehicle owners have been granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing. Vehicles must still be kept in a roadworthy state. More information here: Link
For changes to the licensing rules for taxis and private hire vehicles see Link
Schools and Higher Education
All schools are closed. Exceptions for children of key workers, and children who are vulnerable. For a list of key workers see Link. Exams will not take place in May and June. Information has been released on how GCSE, AS and A level grades will be calculated in lieu of exams - Link
The government has launched a voucher scheme which will allow schools to give vouchers for up to £15 to spend in supermarkets to the families of children who usually receive free school meals - Link
Free school meals scam: if your child receives free school meals and you receive an email asking you to send your bank details "to make sure you're supported", do not respond. The Department for Education and Oxford City Council confirm that this is a scam.
Need a listening ear? Oxford Nightline services remain open during lockdown to the students of the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes. Any student can contact them, regardless of where they are living, via an online chat function between 8pm and 12am. They are open and ready to listen every night until Saturday of 9th week. Students can speak to a volunteer through www.oxfordnightline.org.
Overall, the University of Oxford is operational. All university libraries and museums have been closed until further notice. There are at least seven cases of students who tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. UK undergraduate students and UK taught postgraduates who have homes outside Oxford have been advised to leave the University as soon as possible unless they have a compelling reason to stay. Postgraduate Research students are encouraged to work from home, or from their University/College accommodation, if it is practical to do so. The university advises international students to make individual choices based on personal circumstances.
The student group ‘Oxford Living Wage Campaign’ are concerned about the health, safety, and economic situation of Oxford University and college employees, particularly low-wage workers. Get in touch with them at
Oxford Brookes University
Oxford Brookes halls of residence remain open. Teaching sites remain open, but only for very specific purposes, and access will be restricted - staff should not come in, unless otherwise advised. Access to campuses will be highly restricted - students should access services online. Libraries are closed, and pooled PCs and other IT facilities are not available. Link 1; Link 2.
Under government guidance, places of worship can open only for solitary prayer and for funerals. Many organisations, churches, mosques and others have closed their facilities entirely but provide online pastoral support/services/encouragement on Websites, Facebook or YouTube pages. Please check individually.
Ramadan started in the evening of Thursday, April 23. Public Health England (PHE) and the Muslim Council of Britain have both published advice on celebrating Ramadan during the outbreak: here and here.
The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine have advised that it is unsafe for Covid-19 patients to fast during Ramadan: see here.
The Central Oxford Mosque are asking members of their congregation who are in the most need (you have received an NHS letter identifying you as being at high risk; have physical or mental health needs; are self-isolating or vulnerable for some other reason) and who require help and support including food bank support to call Oxford City Council on 01865 249 811 or visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/communityassistance.
St Mary and St Nicholas Church, Littlemore (Church of England) are offering pastoral care by email or phone, at and 01865 748003.
Economy and business
Small businesses can now apply for Government-backed "bounce back loans" of up to £50,000 in value - see here. The Government is also in the process of implementing a new business grants scheme for businesses falling outside the scope of previous grant schemes - see here.
Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) are offering free business skills webinars for startups, small businesses, and charities - here
More than 1,000 Oxford businesses waiting for coronavirus help from the UK government. See here.
The furlough scheme through which businesses can claim back the wages of their staff is now live - you can find out more and apply here.
New delivery service for local businesses: Local Oxford is using the power of Pedal and Post to deliver from local businesses. Fruit, veg, dairy, and local handmade toiletries available so far. They can also collect from/deliver to the Royal Mail depot and pick up click-and-collect shopping from supermarkets. See Link 1 and Link 2
Many self employed and small businesses will be facing huge challenges. Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is a focal point for information of support in this area. Information available at https://www.oxfordshirelep.com/business.
Rules on carrying over annual leave have been relaxed - employees can now carry over up to 4 weeks of unused leave into the next 2 leave years.
The Government is once more looking for businesses that can offer support for the crisis response, ranging from providing hotel rooms to producing medical equipment - Link
Businesses can now apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts - those citing COVID-19 as the reason for the request will automatically be granted an extension via a fast-tracked online service. Guidance on how to apply here: Link
The contactless limit for in-store card transactions will increase from £30 to £45.
Issues concerning business rates are dealt with by the City Council – see Link
Supermarkets and independent shops
All shops and supermarkets have now brought in strict rules around social distancing. Be aware that you are likely to have to queue outside the shop, keeping 2 metres apart, and be let in once someone comes out.
Sometimes, independent shops still have stocks of items that you might struggle to find in supermarkets. A google doc with a list of independent Oxford shops and Summertown supermarkets can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/yxyncnmc
If you believe your local shop in Oxford is overcharging customers for essential items and profiteering in this time of national crisis, please report this to Trading Standards here.
Many local businesses in Oxfordshire continue to offer their services online or by delivery. For a list of businesses that are still operating - including food shops and takeaways - please see:
Are you (or do you know) an independent local food producer struggling to get products to market? Cultivate Oxford has an online order system and delivery service which can help. See here or email email@example.com
Other open local grocers include
- Free range egg delivery: Mayfield Eggs will deliver via a network of local "egg hubs" across Oxfordshire. Check the form at Link. For full details, see Link 1 or Link 2.
- Cultivate Oxford (fruit, veg, bread, honey, and more) - www.cultivateoxford.org, - the online shop will reopen at 9am on Thursday 25th March. People in priority need are invited to order first, between 9am and 12pm. Other customers are asked to order after that time. Deliveries only within the ring road and to Kidlington.
- Savona: The wholesaler Savona is now open to the public (frozen, chilled, and tinned food; laundry, bathroom, and cleaning supplies; order online and collect from their depot in Kidlington): www.savona.co.uk
- Oxford Factory can now deliver on Tuesdays and Thursdays - email or message at www.facebook.com/oxfordfactory Price list available on the Facebook page. Minimum order £30 within the ring road. £75+ orders could be delivered further - please ask for more information. Safe distancing, hand washing, and sanitisers will be used.
- The meat wholesaler Meatmaster Cash and Carry in Osney Mead will deliver for free to the OX1, OX2, OX3, OX4, OX5, OX10-14, OX 20, OX25-29, OX33 and OX 44 postcodes. This is so far just for orders over £60 but they say they're working on it. They also have fruit and vegetable boxes.
- Wild Honey (111 Magdalen Road, East Oxford and 12 South Parade, Summertown). Both stores remain open - six customers at a time, card only payments, minimum £5 spend, purchases restricted to two of each item. 10% discount for NHS staff (please show ID). Wild Honey are now also doing home deliveries for vulnerable/self-isolating customers. Fruit, veg, cheese, flour, bread, and more - including hand sanitiser. Minimum order £50, free deliveries within the ring road for orders over £100 (otherwise £5). Email firstname.lastname@example.org. See here for more information.
- OxUnboxed non-profit refill shop is reopening this week to sell essentials at the Oxford Hub, 36 Little Clarendon Street. Fridays and Saturdays only, 2pm-6pm. Visit here for an updated stock list soon.
- The Refill Shop at Flo's - The Place in the Park (Florence Park, Rymers Lane, OX4 3JZ): Flo's is now open every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 12.30-6pm. Please bring your own containers if you can. Essential foodstuffs, cleaning supplies, and baby products available. Proceeds go towards supporting community projects.
For a map detailing the location of local supermarkets with their opening hours, information regarding deliveries and any arrangements regarding special opening hours set aside for the elderly, vulnerable, or NHS and key workers, see here.
The consumer organisation Which? is compiling information on opening times, product restrictions, and the different measures in force in different shops here
As of 16th April, all UK supermarkets can only take new priority customers for deliveries if they are registered as a clinically extremely vulnerable person with the UK government. If you have not received a shielding confirmation and find you do not meet the criteria to register (see here) but have another vulnerability requiring deliveries for groceries, you can contact your GP and ask them to register you. If you do not meet the criteria and your GP will not register you but you still need help - one off or regularly - with deliveries of essentials, check which Mutual Aid groups and food banks are helping with groceries in your area.
Avoid crowded supermarkets: the Crowdless app has been designed to give users real-time information on the busyness of particular supermarkets. See https://crowdlessapp.co/app/ for full details and downloads.
Unions & working conditions
Petition to protect workers during the pandemic: Oxford Living Wage Campaign has started a petition to ensure all workers for the University and colleges are protected and kept informed during the crisis. Read and sign here: Link
Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid and Oxford Living Wage are working together to respond to the virus crisis. If you're having trouble at work, please get in touch for advice and support. "Are you still working at Oxford University or one of its colleges? Are you a current or former employee sent home because of the coronavirus pandemic? Are you experiencing any issues at work -- including a reduction of pay or hours, a lack of personal protective equipment, or intimidation? The Oxford Living Wage Campaign wants to hear from you. We are working together with trade unions and leaders in the city to demand that the University and Colleges guarantee all workers full wages, sick pay, job security, and health and safety during the crisis, regardless of contract type or migration status. All communication will remain confidential unless you wish to publicly share your story. Contact us at email@example.com".
Information on lay-offs, furloughs, redundancies, and government job retention measures: the United Voices of the World trade union answers a number of questions at https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/layoffs-hours-reduction
For the latest information on:
Carers' ID: Oxfordshire County Council is supporting informal carers during the current Covid-19 pandemic by offering Carers' ID. The scheme is aimed at those people who are providing care and support for youngsters and adults known to OCC Social Care, and can be issued to paid carers as well as volunteers, provided that the person being supported is known to Adult Social Care services as being at risk. The Council can then provide a simple letter of authority which can be presented, if challenged, whilst out and about, and to assist when making purchases for the supported person. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or find out more at here.
Support for family carers: Carers Oxfordshire offers free advice, information, and support to any unpaid carer over the age of 18 in Oxfordshire. Although home visits are no longer possible, support is still available on 01235 424715. You can also email or go to http://www.carersoxfordshire.org.uk/ for more information.
The Government has provided new guidelines for unpaid carers - Link
NICE have published a new guide for the managers of care homes for promoting mental wellbeing in older people - See here.
The UK government has announced everyone going from hospital to social care, including care homes, will now be tested for coronavirus. They will be isolated until their results come through. See Link.
Oxfordshire All In have compiled accessible Coronavirus-related resources here
If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired, you can contact the emergency services by text. Full guide here: https://actionfordeafness.org.uk/pages/emergency-services
South and Vale district councils have released a BSL version of their COVID-19 advice here
Support if you are visually impaired: Oxfordshire Association for the Blind has a team of telephone volunteers providing regular check-ups and support. If you or someone you know would like a regular call from an OAB volunteer, please call 01865 725595 or email .
Safeguarding and Scams
Resources can be found here and here. Protocols for food deliveries for neighbours and virus safety are also available here and here. A visual guide can be found here: bit.ly/visualmutualaid. For government advice on safe volunteering during the crisis see here.
Thames Valley Police are advising people in need of support to try and only liaise with someone they are familiar with, if necessary, to give small amounts of cash for essentials and not to hand over a bank card. If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber-crime, you can report it to the police on their Action Fraud reporting tool at LINK or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Although there is a huge amount of new support within communities, there are also people trying to take advantage of the situation to cheat and steal through a whole new set of online scams. Some examples:
The government are relying on emails and text messages as communication channels and we are already seeing scams circulating which have untrustworthy links in them. It is highly likely that a new wave of scam emails, calls and text messages claiming to be from HMRC will start to circulate, now that that the Chancellor has announced the new Income Support Scheme for the self-employed. They will no doubt be offering financial help in exchange for you bank details etc. and probably contain a link where an email or text is concerned.
If your child receives free school meals and you receive an email asking you to send your bank details "to make sure you're supported", do not respond. The Department for Education and Oxford City Council confirm that this is a scam.
There’s another scam where members of the public are texted and told to share their card details in order to receive a supposed Covid-19 relief payment from the government. People have received text messages, supposedly from the government, asking them to follow a link to receive a “goodwill payment” of £258 in light of the ongoing outbreak of the new coronavirus. These links are scams. You should not click or interact with them. For more information see here
Some people have been receiving texts saying they have been fined £35 "after being recorded as leaving your home on 3 occasions yesterday" - this is a scam. Do not click the link - do not respond.
Testing scam: There are individuals on social media claiming to be selling Covid-19 home testing kits. This is a scam. If you see posts offering these tests, report them to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Yellow Card Scheme at
If you receive a text message telling you that "Someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for COVID 19 and recommends you self-isolate/get tested. More at [LINK]", do not click the link. No contact tracing app has yet been introduced in the UK, so this is a scam.
Only links that end in “gov.uk” or “nhs.net” go to legitimate NHS or UK government sites.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is taking down a lot of these malicious websites as soon as they become aware of them. If you are sent a suspicious email or text, please report it via the Netcraft website at: https://lnkd.in/gxi79PY Please be doubly careful to check any emails or text messages. If you are not sure about a message you can check, how to check messages you receive and how to get involved at this website from SEGWARP, the South East Government Warning, Advisory and Reporting Point (SEGWARP) https://lnkd.in/g3QPDyb #cybersecurity
Advice from National Trading Standards on coronavirus scams available here
For more tips on how to identify scams and on good behaviour, see:
Where to get help
Mutual Aid Groups
Oxford Mutual Aid have compiled a list of resources for those volunteering or helping others during the outbreak: https://oxfordmutualaid.org/resources/protocols/
The first organisation to provide Covid-19 related crisis support to vulnerable people across Oxfordshire was Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid. They are a grassroots organisation offering various forms of support to people in Oxfordshire, including help with food and pharmaceutical deliveries. You can best find them on Facebook. They have neighbourhood-based WhatsApp volunteer action groups that volunteers can join.
Sign up for support or to volunteer on their facebook page, or here: Link.
Send a tweetable update or some good news here: Link
Phone line for support: 07310160595 available 24 hours a day.
Sign up for emails with information, updates, and requests for help at http://eepurl.com/gYQew5
The local charity Oxford Hub is coordinating people in Oxford who want to volunteer to support their local community. They have neighbourhood-based volunteer groups across the city. Anyone wanting to volunteer who is healthy and low risk can register their details online at www.oxfordtogether.org. On their website, they also offer regular phone check-ins, practical support, and have information on who can help you in your local area.
We publish daily situation report by 5pm with local information and resources. If you have any information you think should be included in our sitrep, please email us at . We are interested in learning about any gaps - particularly gaps that are affecting more vulnerable groups – that need addressing.
Website that connects people living in the same neighborhood to exchange information, offer and receive support.
Other mutual aid networks
There are more mutual aid groups active in Oxfordshire than are listed above. The charity KEEN have created a website, Oxfordshire All In, that has a map of groups active across the county. They are particularly useful for small, local mutual aid groups outside of Oxford City. See www.oxfordshireallin.org.
Are you a furloughed charity staff member who wants to volunteer with other organisations in the charity sector? Or a charitable organisation looking for more volunteers? Team Oxford have started a furlough exchange that seeks to match these two groups up here
Government and Council
Support for people
NHS Volunteer Responders: Self-isolating? You can now self-refer to this service for help with essential supplies (food/medicatio) and/or to sign up for "check in and chat" phone calls. Call 0808 1963646 and see here for more information.
Government support for extremely vulnerable people: If you have a medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, the UK government is offering to help. For example, you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food. If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway. You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else here.
Oxfordshire District Councils have established dedicated points of contact for extremely vulnerable residents to get the support they need, whether it’s help from a food bank, getting medicines delivered, or dealing with isolation. To get in touch:
Call 01865 89 78 20 (Cherwell, South and Vale, and West Oxfordshire)/ 01865 24 98 11 (Oxford City);
Oxford City residents can also request support via an online form at Link.
Oxford City Council are also offering advice to residents who are worried about owing the council money:
- Those who need to pay council tax or business rates: 01865 252856
Council tenants, Council garage tenants or leaseholders: 01865 252880.
Commercial Rent or Sundry Income customers: 01865 252863
In South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, anyone that is not considered high risk and lacks a support network around them can call their district councils' dedicated support line on 01235 422600 or email email@example.com
A dedicated helpline has been set up to help self-employed individuals and businesses in financial distress and with outstanding tax liabilities receive support with their tax affairs. If you are concerned about being able to pay your tax due to COVID-19, call HMRC’s dedicated helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Support for businesses and groups
Oxfordshire farmers who need support, practical advice, or someone to listen can contact Farming Help for assistance. Please call 03000 111 999. Lines are open 7am to 11pm every day. Or visit
Free government-ru webinars for business-owners affected by the crisis here
Support for charitable organisations: the Charities Aid Foundation has launched a rapid response fund to make grants of up to £10,000 to smaller charitable organisations so that they can continue to deliver much-needed support during the Covid-19 pandemic. Registered charities, social enterprises, and unregistered entities may all apply. See LINK for details.
County Council support and grants are available for small businesses and the self-employed - https://www.oxford.gov.uk/supportforbusiness
Grant applications for small businesses in South and Vale are live - £10,000 is available for all business in receipt of small business rate relief (SBRR) or rural rate relief (RRR) with a rateable value up to and including £15,000 as at 11 March 2020. You can find more information and apply here (Vale) and here (South)
West Oxfordshire District Council has announced support for businesses: LINK
Banbury Town Council is offering emergency ‘battle fund’ grants to help local groups support vulnerable residents during the coronavirus outbreak. The one-off grants will be up to £500 per good cause: here
Bicester Town Council to give emergency cash to coronavirus support groups. Link
Sport England has launched a £20 million fund to help community sports groups:Link
Witney Round Table is using funds raised by their recent beer festival to help the local community. If you are a local Covid-19 support group send them a direct message on Twitter at @witney499
Emergency grants for Littlemore groups: Littlemore Parish Council has launched a £5,000 emergency grant fund to support the community. Grants of up to £500 each are available to groups working in the Parish which are directly helping people to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not open to individuals or profit-making organisations. For more information, see here
Free food - General Info
For a map and database of services providing free or subsidised food in Oxfordshire see Link. If you work with a community food bank that is not listed by the council's food services map or spreadsheet or if your bank's details their need updating, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to use a community larder or food bank - temporarily or longer term - then note that some that are usually referrals-only are taking non-referrals clients and some others will accept referrals made through your local community crisis aid group with the assistance of Oxfordshire All In and Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid. Work is currently being done by these groups and local authorities to collect more up-to-date information for food banks across Oxfordshire.
Government food parcels: Are you receiving these and don't need them? Please do not de-register on the government shielding site as you may lose other support such as priority supermarket delivery slots. This will be either Brakes or Bidfords. To stop deliveries, contact them (Brakes) here or (Bidfords) here.
To get unwanted parcels to people who need them more, please donate to a food bank or other charity. The Gatehouse is providing food to the homeless and vulnerably housed and would really appreciate the support - contact them on 01865 792999 (Monday to Friday, 5-7pm, Sundays 4-6pm) or email@example.com.
Oxford Mutual Aid can also make sure they get to people in need. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or text +44 7933 763752 to arrange collection from your doorstep - these take place on Wednesdays (usually 4.30pm-6pm). If it's raining, just text and the volunteer will knock on the door.
A local group has being set up to help families who rely on free school meals: Link
Free food - Providers
Oxford Food Bank has reopened, offering a limited service. That are not able to receive visitors or accept new volunteers. Charities in need of food should contact Cathy on . Anyone wishing to donate food should contact Emma on , or call 07856 610368.
Botley Community Fridge: Prepacked food parcels will no longer be placed outside of the library. Some non-perishable boxes will be left daily on benches outside the library for people to collect. Fresh food is still available but it will only be delivered. ‘If you need a food parcel please email . Please email your name (just first name is fine), the number of people in your household, your address and phone number, and any special requests (e.g. vegetarian, coeliac, baby). Food requests need to come in by midnight the day before please, so we can organise our delivery rounds. If you can't email, text 07759 135811, but then that gets emailed over, so it slows down the process.’ From Thursday 9 April, Food for Charities will be providing weekly food deliveries to anyone self-isolating and/or in need. This is in addition to our current daily deliveries of fresh food. Volunteer drivers will deliver it to OX2 on Thursday afternoons, and to other postcodes possibly on Fridays or Saturdays. Households of 1-2 will get one parcel, and 3+ will get two parcels. The food will be free to anyone in need (self-identified). We ask people who are not in need to contribute £3-5 per parcel, to help pay for petrol for the volunteer drivers, bags etc. (bank details are on the food request form). We are also receiving some grants for petrol money, so please do not feel obliged to pay, or let the cost hold you back from receiving parcels. If you would like parcels - either weekly or as an urgent one-off - please fill in https://forms.gle/ofPngUCzU8ER5FRD8. We'll get back to you with information about deliveries, etc".
Local charity SOFEA run community larders for free emergency food packages across Oxfordshire. They are in Didcot (Monday, Marlborough Club 227 The Broadway OX11 8RU 2:30-5:00); Berinsfield (Wednesday, The Berin Centre, Berinsfield, OX10 7LZ 2:30-5:00), Abingdon (Friday, Abingdon The Carousel Family Centre, Abingdon, OX14 5GZ 3:30-5:00) and Chipping Norton (The Branch (Old Natwest bank), 14 Market Place, Chipping Norton, OX7 5NA 2:30-5:00). For other food banks in the Chipping Norton area see: here
SOFEA community larders are offering free food in Oxford as follows:
Rose Hill Community Centre - Tuesday 2-4pm.
Blackbird Leys Community Centre - Wednesday 2:30 - 5pm.
Ark-T, Cowley - Tuesday 11-2pm & Thursday 11-2pm.
Barton Neighbourhood Centre - Tuesday 2:00-4:00pm.
If you have a referral, from 3 April, you will be able to request up to 3 parcels/yr from the Community Emergency Foodbank (CEF; for information on referrals).
If you need help delivering items from Community Larders, Oxford Covid 19 Mutual Aid will help you. Just fill in this form:
Also in Oxford, the OX4 Free Food Crew is providing free hot meals for vulnerable residents in OX4 - apply here: Link
Rose Hill Community Larder: "The Larder will be open on Tuesdays 2-4pm throughout April at the Rose Hill Community Centre. Membership fees remain suspended and all members will receive a box of ten items and a bag of fruit and vegetables. Social distancing will be observed, so please, if possible, don't bring children with you".
Barns Road Community Larder: The Community Larder at the Venue on Barns Road in Cowley is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 11am to 2pm. Residents will need to sign up and all safety precautions will be taken. If you are self-isolating please contact and they will try to arrange delivery.
Witney Community Fridge is available for anyone in need of food to pick up a prepacked bag of fresh fruit/veg/bread. You can pick up food on Tues, Thurs, Sun from 11:30am-12pm outside Witney Community Support Service. We sometimes have bonus openings on other days which are advertised at https://www.facebook.com/WitneyFridge. We are now offering delivery for anyone who is self-isolating AND on a low income – email email@example.com to request, it will be delivered by Witney Land Army volunteers.
Cherwell Community Larder helps fill the gap in food supply for those in financial need. Food parcels will be delivered once a week on Saturday afternoons directly to your door. For more information and to sign up for a parcel delivery see here. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 01865 817676. No referral necessary.
A shared resource is now in place which helps communities, third-sector organisations and small businesses understand how to keep themselves and others safe and stay operational. It is available here.
For a updated list of pharmacies, their delivery service and whether they are open see: Link
Many community pharmacies in Oxfordshire will be open for a minimum of three hours on Bank Holiday Friday 8th May. Please check online: here.
For help with prescription pick-up from an NHS Volunteer Responders call 0808 1963646 or see here for more information.
A new service in Cherwell is connecting local running and cycling clubs with pharmacies to get supplies of medication to vulnerable residents - https://t.co/Q9at0CZipY?amp=1
The Government has introduced emergency legislation to bring in a complete ban on new evictions for three months as part of measures to help protect renters in social and private rented accommodation.
Renters advocacy groups
Oxford Tenant Union
have written an open letter to Oxford City Council demanding a halt to all evictions, a rent freeze for anyone unable to work because of the virus, and an expansion of housing benefit.
are providing a host of resources to people struggling to pay rent, threatened with evictions or experiencing problems with their landlady/lord, including template letters
are calling on renters to share their stories via Facebook or by joining their weekly Zoom calls at 6pm on Mondays. They're collecting stories to better inform their campaigning.
Find them at https://oxfordtenantsunion.wordpress.com.
Are you being threatened with eviction? Having problems with maintenance? Acorn Oxford is the local branch of a nationwide community union which works to protect renters' rights and defend members against neglect and harassment by landlords. Find out more at https://acorntheunion.org and https://www.facebook.com/ACORNoxford. Get in touch with the Oxford branch on 07845 636685 or email@example.com
Do you know anyone who can no longer manage to cook for themselves? Oxford Mutual Aid, University College, Dementia Oxfordshire, and Age UK are teaming up to provide simple hot meals for distribution across the city to both elderly and homeless people. To ask for support for yourself or another person, go to here.
Call for submissions - What does #stayathome look like for you? 'Oxford is My Home’ is a zine produced by Oxford Poetry Library and Open House Oxford to tell the hidden stories of housing and homelessness in Oxford and what it means to call this city ‘home’. For our third issue, we want to know what #StayatHome looks like for you? How are you spending your days? Who are you with? Are you enjoying yourself? What are you worried about? What do you miss about being able to leave your home? You can submit poems, stories, pictures, comic strips, or any other creative reflection which you can figure out a way of getting to us. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ring us on 0800 0096754 and leave a message and we’ll transcribe your story or poem. Deadline: 11 May. Please keep written submissions within 500 words. See here for inspiration.
The Porch day centre is offering a food take away service seven days a week even though its other activities have been suspended. People can collect food from 139 Magdalen Road between 12pm and 2pm seven days a week.
Hotels are to be allowed to remain open to provide accommodation to key workers and vulnerable people, such as those experiencing homelessness: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-hotel-accommodation-to-support-key-workers-and-vulnerable-people
Local councils are being given a £500 million hardship fund by the UK government in order to reduce council tax liability for those currently in receipt of Local Council Tax Support ('LCTS'). There is no need to make a separate application. More information at:https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-confirms-500-million-hardship-fund-will-provide-council-tax-relief-for-vulnerable-households
Anyone facing immediate difficulties paying their council tax in Vale of White Horse should contact or call 0345 302 2315.
Oxford City Council are offering advice to residents who are worried about paying council tax at 01865 252856
Demand on the services of the Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre (OSARCC) has increased during lockdown. See here
Domestic abuse - how and where to get support:
Anyone in immediate danger should phone 999.
If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999 and then press 55. This will transfer the call to police, who will assist without the caller having to speak. If you possibly can, please give your location.
Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Services offers free advice: 0800 731 0055 (Mon-Fri 10am-7pm). Email email@example.com
Alternatively, call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 2000 247.
Anybody worried about causing harm to the ones they love can get help by contacting Respect Phoneline - 0808 802 4040. https://respectphoneline.org.uk/
People suffering domestic abuse can now access safe spaces in Boots pharmacies where they can safely contact services for help and advice. Ask staff if you can use the consultation room.
More than 20 BME specialist frontline services, migrant and human rights organisations have written to the Home Secretary calling for emergency support to help migrant victims of domestic abuse amidst the Covid-19 crisis. See here: LINK
Oxfordshire County Council have released a more comprehensive guide for victims of domestic abuse during the outbreak: Link
Thames Valley Police has updated information on the "silent solution" (calling 999 and pressing 55) here. If you possibly can, please give your location in a 999 call.
Domestic abuse, hate crime, cybercrime: Victims First has a directory of services on its website, searchable by postcode: here
The following services remain available in a time of quarantine:
National helpline here
Links for Oxfordshire: here
Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre: www.osarcc.org. Text service is reopening next Thursday April 30th from 6.30-8.30pm. It will then be open at that time every Thursday and Sunday evening. You can still email as well and receive a response within 7 days at .
Women's Aid has some helpful advice for the coronavirus crisis at here
Latin American Women's Rights Service:
Español, de lunes a jueves, 10h - 13h 07719 281714
Português, de segunda a sexta-feira, das 10h às 13h, 07595 970580
National Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0808 200024 - Free, 24 hours a day, translation services available
Domestic abuse services: Survivors UK supports male, trans, and non-binary survivors of abuse and can offer confidential support via web, SMS, and WhatApp chat services, 12.00-20.00, 7 days a week - see here. You can also self-refer for counselling by calling 0203 598 3898 during office hours Monday-Friday or emailing .
ManKind Initiative has a confidential helpline (Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm) for male victims of domestic and sexual abuse (and relatives and friends seeking advice on how to help). Call 01823 334244. See here for more information.
For a list of other services for domestic abuse victims, see here: Link.
If you think that a child is in immediate danger, please call 999. If you have concerns about neglect, abandonment, or abuse, please call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 0345 050 7666, 8.30am-5.00pm, Monday to Thursday, 8.30am-4.00pm Friday). Outside office hours, you can call the Emergency Duty Team on 0800 833 408. If you think a child or young person is being sexually exploited, ontact the Kingfisher Team on 01865 309196. See more information from the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board here
Oxfordshire Age UK have set up a new telephone support service for older people in Oxfordshire: 01865 411 288. If you leave your name and phone number, they will call you back.
Do you know anyone who can no longer manage to cook for themselves? Oxford Mutual Aid, University College, Dementia Oxfordshire, and Age UK are teaming up to provide simple hot meals for distribution across the city to both elderly and homeless people. To ask for support for yourself or another person, go to here.
Daudhar News, 96-100 Horspath Road, Cowley have free packs of Dettol Soap and a face mask for older and vulnerable people only. Daudhar News accept donations that will go towards providing more packs.
Generation Games are providing low impact exercise videos for older people stuck at home: https://www.generationgames.org.uk/
King Lear Prizes have launched an art competition for over 70s who are self-isolating: https://www.kinglearprizes.org.uk/
Gloucester Green Bus Station is closed 4th-11th May for essential maintenance work.
Free car breakdown service for NHS workers: Green Flag is offering free breakdown assistance to all NHS staff. If your car breaks down on your way to or from work, call 0800 0510009 and quote your NHS identification number; show your ID card to the Green Flag technician when they arrive. See https://blog.greenflag.com/nhs-cover-announcement/ for full details.
Are you a key worker who needs a bike? Sustrans has created an interactive map to help you find offers and services, including free Brompton folding bikes for NHS workers, bike shops open in your area, and the Tour de Thanks network (linking people lending and donating bikes to key workers who need them). See Link
The Oxford Bus Company is providing bespoke travel arrangements for keyworkers - you can discuss your needs with them here.
Royal Cars Oxford will be providing online shop collections for over 65s and anyone in self-isolation within the Oxford area. This service is free for all over 65s. All other bookings are card only: either prepaid or contactless payments at the end of the journey. To access this service, call them at 01865 777 333 with the store you’ve ordered from; your order number; and your delivery address.
001 Taxis are also providing contact-free collection from grocery shops and pharmacies via their booking app: www.001taxis.com, and by phone on 01865 240000.
Childcare and Education
For an expansive list of useful education resources see the Oxford Covid 19 Mutual Aid group's resources here.
Oxford City Council have launched an online Activities Hub which provides links to a wide range of online resources and advice on exercise, mental health, learning and cultural activities: link. It includes lots of ideas to help you (and your children) “move, smile and stay well”.
Oxfordshire Libraries may be closed, but you can still borrow e-books and audiobooks, access newspapers and magazines online, and use the music streaming service. There are also lots of resources for schoolwork and study, a Facebook book club, and art and poetry competitions for under-18s. See here for more information.
Gruffalo Illustrator Axel Scheffler has create a free information book explaining the coronavirus to children - https://nosycrow.com/
New and expectant parents
- Oxfordshire Period Drive now also has baby clothes, toys, and books available. If you need any of these items, or any sanitary products, fill out the form here.
- Had a baby since 1st March 2020 and feeling isolated? Botley Bridges (a community'
-led children's services charity), NHS Health Visitors, and several other new parents' services are running a virtual new baby group to provide support and connection on Wednesdays at 11am, starting on 22nd April. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for a Zoom invitation.- - Home Start Oxford have volunteers and Co-ordinators ready to support additional families by phone. They can offer this through the volunteer / staff experience in early years, parenting, mental health support, domestic abuse, access to crisis grants, advocacy with housing etc. Our new number is 01869 322 394, staffed 8-2 Mon-Fri.
- Oxfordshire Breastfeeding Support offer 1-2-1 breastfeeding support via video or phone call. More information and resources here.
- If you are worried about your baby or yourself, please contact your midwifery or health visiting team, or NHS 111 (999 if it's an emergency).
Lessons and other resources
- Oxford Mutual Aid have collected useful education resources on their website here.
- Free maths resources are available here
- The Oxford Poetry Library are providing free activity packs for children aged 7-14 here
- Schools can access free PE home learning resources here
- Online science activities for Oxfordshire schoolchildren can be accessed here
- The University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education has launched a programme of free online learning resources “Curious Minds”: Link.
- Go here to offer or request online tutoring.
Childcare for key workers:
- Co-op Childcare is offering dedicated spaces for the children of key workers and financial support through its Frontline Hero Support Fund, including at its Carterton, Rose Hill, and John Radcliffe nurseries. See here for more information.
- If you are having trouble finding a school place for the child of a keyworker or a vulnerable child, please email .
- Childcare support for NHS Workers and other essential employees is also being coordinated here: Link
- Oxfordshire Family Information Service has a compiled a list of early-years childcare providers still operational in Oxfordshire. Key workers who needs childcare, see here
Loneliness and Mental Health
Mental health support
Overview: Oxford Mutual Aid have compiled a comprehensive document of mental health resources available in Oxfordshire here. Oxfordshire Mind have compiled a list of numbers to call in a mental health crisis here.
Resources in languages other than English:
- For coping strategies in anxious times, see here, where you can find resources in multiple languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Polish, Farsi, French, and Pashto.
Children & Parents:
- Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust are looking for parents to take part in a survey on how best to support children and young people's mental health during the crisis: Link
- Young Minds UK are running a helpline for parents concerned about a child's mental health - Call 0808 802 5544, Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4pm
- The ThinkNinja app for young people, developed with CAMHS, has now been made free for all 10-18-year-olds and updated with specific Covid-19 support content. Download here: Link. See LINK for more information on the app.
- Families in Oxfordshire have been warned that 'temporary disruption' to child and young adult mental health services is anticipated. Link
- Mental health and wellbeing support: Donnington Doorstep Family Centre can provide support and advice to children and adolescents and their parents, with online support groups, one-to-one chats over the phone, and referrals to other organisations if necessary. Get in touch on , call 01865 727721, or visit here.
Free and low-cost counselling:
- Oxfordshire Therapy and Self-Development is offering a free online support group for people of colour, which they intend as "a safe and respectful place to discuss issues concerning any struggles to do with the Coronavirus. This may have exacerbated the injustices faced in normal day to day life. This group will provide a safe and welcoming space to be with others who may also feel anxious and powerless". Join here
- Oxfordshire Therapy and Self-Development is offering free online support with a focus on psychological and emotional well-being and mental health in a crisis. There will be weekly 90-minute sessions for 10 weeks, led by experienced therapists. To register, please email with the subject line "On-Line Support Groups". Go to www.otscentre.co.uk for more details.
- The East Oxford-based Listening Centre, which offers counselling for people otherwise unable to afford it, is providing services online and over the phone. Fees agreed at your first session. See here for more information or call 01865 794794.
- The Help Hub has been set up to support isolated people through the Covid-19 crisis. Qualified counsellors can provide support via Skype, FaceTime, or phone. They are offering free 20-minute appointments with qualified therapists for those feeling anxious or isolated. See here for more details and to book an appointment.
Advice on how to look after your mental health:
- Oxfordshire NHS Foundation: Link
- Public Health England: Link
- 'Every Mind Matters' is the new NHS site providing mental health resources - here
The Wolvercote and Wytham Friendly Line has gained so much support that it's now the Oxford Friendly Line, with volunteers available for a chat wherever you live in Oxford and whatever your situation. Call 01865 570235 between 10am and 4pm, any day of the week. To find out more and to sign up to volunteer yourself (there can never be too many), go to https://wytham-village.org.uk/index.php/friendly-line/friendly-line-signup
E-PAL has been launched as a virtual pen-pal platform to help combat loneliness in isolation. It is free and open to everybody, regardless of situation, and works by connecting individuals to aid responders with whom they can keep in touch by email. Support is currently offered in English, French, Spanish, and Italian. See https://www.e-pal.co.uk/ for details and to sign up. According to the founder, the aid responders are DBS checked and all have degrees in psychology or counselling and experience working with vulnerable people.
Telephone support services:
- Oxford Hub: Link
- Oxford Covid 19 Mutual Aid group: LINK
- NHS: Call 0808 1963646 or see here for more information.
A directory of support for Roma and Traveller communities can be found here
Live in Blackbird Leys and need advice or support? The Agnes Smith Advice Centre can help with financial advice, accessing food in an emergency, applying for charity grants for essentials, information about benefits, and directions to other local support services. Call 01865 770206 (leave your name and number and staff will call you back), email , or post a note with your name and number through the door at 96 Blackbird Leys Road, Blackbird Leys, OX4 6HS. See for more information about the Centre.
Rose Hill and Donnington Advice Centre are operating, offering a telephone advice and support service to anyone living in our catchment area (Rose Hill, Donnington, Littlemore and Iffley) who needs help with issues relating to debt, welfare benefits and housing. Our service is open 9.30am-4.30pm, Monday-Thursday. Call 01865 438634.
Citizens Advice have a regularly updated page where you can check what to do if coronavirus affects your work, benefits or travel: here. You can also ask them for advice at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0300 330 9037. They are expecting a high number of calls and waiting times may be long.
Money Saving Expert have a dedicated part of their page with advice and guidance on how to do the best you can with current finances, from mortgage holidays to claiming on cancelled events. This can be found here
Need help managing your energy bills? Call Better Housing Better Health on 0800 107 0044 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) or email for advice on lowering your bills, switching tariff/provider, or accessing financial assistance. You can also fill in the referral form (for yourself or somebody else) here and an advisor will be in touch within 24 hours.
If you have a question about health and social care services, need information and support or want to tell them about your experience of care, you can contact the friendly team at Healthwatch Oxfordshire. You can get in touch with them by phone: 01865 520520; through their website www.healthwatchoxfordshire.co.uk; or by email: email@example.com.
Oxford City Council have compiled a list of resources for those experiencing hardship due to the outbreak, including advice on housing, benefits, council tax and domestic violence: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/essentialsupport
Oxwash is offering three free washes to NHS staff and elderly and vulnerable people in Oxford. See here for how to claim your washes.
Free legal advice for keyworkers: LINK. Advice will be provided by way of a free telephone consultation with a suitably qualfied barrister (of up to 30 minutes) and a brief written note of their advice in an email.
IT Support: Jason has kindly offered to help anyone set up their online communication tools (e.g. zoom, Skype, Facetime…). You can call Jason at 077 99 741 634. Please leave a message and Jason will call you back.
Support for new parents: Oxford Baby Baskets supplies good-quality second-hand baby clothes, towels, and moses baskets, and essential toiletries, to parents-to-be who are in need. Please ask your midwife for a referral.
Language help for mutual aid groups: you can request help through here
Accommodation for NHS staff and key workers:
- Kacey Relocation has properties available at reduced, non-profit rates in central Oxford, Headington, Cumnor, Swindon, and Lechlade (Gloucestershire) for key workers, people needing to self-isolate away from vulnerable family members, people with no permanent residence, and anyone stranded in the UK because of travel restrictions. All within 20 minutes' drive to the nearest hospital so suitable for NHS staff. Message through their Facebook page: link or email
- Platinum Pillows: Oxford apartments (some of which are close to the hospitals) on a non-profit basis. Contact or 01865 951201/0845 299 7887.
- Orthopaedic surgeon Joseph Alsousou, who was evicted by his landlady, has set up a service to match NHS workers looking for rooms with individuals and organisations who can help. If you need a room, can offer a room, or can volunteer your time to help with site design, data processing, or campaign advertising, please get in touch through here
- Woof and Whistle Dog Walking & Sitting Service: 50% off its usual rates for key workers in the Oxford area (all its other dog walking services are suspended). See link or email .
- Oxford Pet Whisperers : reduced-price day care and boarding services for the dogs of key workers. They also have a pet taxi for any owner stuck at home whose animal needs critical vetinary care. See link for more information.
Can you help?
We are looking for help with researching the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on particularly vulnerable groups, e.g. victims of domestic violence and abuse, refugees/migrants, recipients of Universal Credit, the homeless, and others. Please get in touch with us at if you could help. For a model, see our (unfortunately not up-to-date) report on prisons below.
Investigating the PPE shortage: Are you an NHS worker lacking personal protective equipment? The Citizens, "a collective of journalists, techies, academics, filmmakers, lawyers & individuals from all walks of life investigating data, disinfo & threats to democracy", would like to hear from you. Please fill out their quick and anonymous questionnaire here. For more information, follow on Twitter @allthecitizens
Do you speak multiple languages in your household? If you have children up to the age of 18, NALDIC (the national subject association for English as an Additional Language) would love you to get involved in a study of how lockdown and school closures are affecting language use at home. See here for more information.
Review of the impact of coronavirus on people with protected characteristics: How have you and people you know been affected by the pandemic? Parliament's Women and Equalities Committee would like to hear from you about the impact both of the coronavirus and the government's response. Go here for more information and to give your opinion.
Rethink Mental Health is running a survey to find out how people with mental illness are coping with the challenges of the current crisis. If you live with mental illness yourself or care for somebody who does, you can fill out the survey here
Text text text.
Volunteer / Work
Oxford Mutual Aid is looking for people to help cook for vulnerable people who are self-isolating this month so they can get a taste of home during Ramadan. Ingredients and tupperware will be provided, and delivery drivers will pick up and drop off the meals - so all you'd need to do is cook. If you think you may be able to help, please contact Nabila Qureshi by Facebook message (https://www.facebook.com/nabila.qureshi.3304) with how many boxes you may be able to make and which days would be best for you. Even one day and food for two people would be a great help.
Oxford Hub is looking for more Phone Link volunteers. You'd be responsible for calling between one and five people daily, or less often (depending on your capacity). Sign up here. Volunteers are assigned to a "pod" of other volunteers to work with. Your job when chatting to people is to provide some light social relief, have a laugh, and signpost people to support resources if they should need them. The Hub is specifically looking for people with experience working in mental health support, but you are still welcome to sign up if you do not have relevant experience.
The Help Hub has been set up to support isolated people through the Covid-19 crisis. Qualified counsellors provide support via Skype, FaceTime, or phone. If you are a therapist or counsellor and would like to volunteer, you can submit your details here.
Call for volunteers: Victims First is recruiting Emotional Support Service Volunteers to help victims of crime in the Thames Valley area. If you have excellent listening skills and the ability to empathise with people from diverse backgrounds, and can commit to a minimum involvement of 18 months, please get in touch on 01844 487989 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Full training, expenses, and a mobile phone provided. See here for full details.
Call for volunteers: Are you a furloughed chef? The Porch is looking for two chefs to help cook meals for homeless people on Mondays in East Oxford, 8am to 3pm. If you can help, please email email@example.com.
Oxfordshire All In is looking for volunteers - here
Letter writing project: Can you spare some time to write to elderly people in residential homes, where visits are no longer possible? To sign up, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You will then be given some instructions on what to do with your letter once complete, and a name to write to.
Oxford Mutual Aid are looking for chefs who might be able to volunteer as part of their new hot meals delivery service. If you are interested, or can help, please send an email to email@example.com or ring 07310 160 595.
Graphic Design & Press: Oxford Mutual Aid is looking for a few more regulars to add to its media team.
3 graphic designers - mostly making graphics for OMA's social media and website, often with quick turnaround. Commitment roughly 5 hrs per week.
3 people with print journalism/comms experience - existing press connections and experience writing press releases/pitches strongly preferred, familiarity with radio and TV also very welcome. Commitment a few hours a day, 2-3 days per week.
2 video editors/producers - to create more regular video shorts about OMA's activities. Looking for creative people able to take the initiative and work around social distance filming constraints. Probably a few hours' work 1-2 days per week.
Please message Jack Doyle directly on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're up for any of these roles, with a little bit about your background and a good email/phone number!
Research Volunteers: Oxford Mutual Aid is seeking volunteers with experience in research & information gathering, report writing and comms. This role requires around 2/3 hours per day but can be expanded as time goes on! If this is you please get in touch at email@example.com
Oxford University is running a study to find out how common the virus is in Oxfordshire. Participants will not be told if they have the virus, but it will help organisations to coordinate responses to the outbreak. Sign up here: here
Oxford Mutual Aid mask making project: Oxford Mutual Aid are looking for volunteers who are interested in new community mask making project. Home-made masks will then be made following guidelines, sanitised centrally and then distributed to those who are vulnerable and/or frontline workers. If you are keen to be a part of this effort, please fill out the form below. Also, if you are not interested in mask making but have access to factory made masks you are keen to donate to frontline workers, please also fill out this form: here. If you have any questions about the project, please contact Nazan Osman directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.
Call for volunteers: Oxford Tenants' Union is looking for volunteers with experience in law and housing needs and support to help with upholding tenants' rights during the Covid-19 crises and assessing new legislation. Please email email@example.com or go to @oxtenantsunion on Facebook or Twitter.
Oxford NHS Foundation Trust need admin workers, healthcare assistants, community support workers, housekeepers, driver receptionists, pharmacy stores and maintenance operatives. Full, part time and temporary contracts. Visit here.
Urgent call for volunteers with midwifery experience: This role can be filled by someone working remotely if you're in quarantine. Are you a retired nurse and want to help? Direct message Muireann Meehan Speed [Facebook] if interested.
Oxford Covid 19 Mutual Aid group are looking for insured van drivers to deliver food parcels around the city as volunteers. DBS required. Please email with the subject line: VAN DRIVERS FAO JACK
Also from Oxford Covid 19 Mutual Aid: Call for phone volunteers to help people in and around Oxford connect with us by phone. If you have amazing communication skills and / or experience of working on a phone support service message +447731898860 on WhatsApp or email . DBS check necessary.
Call for translators/interpreters: sign up here to translate posters, interpret for vulnerable people, or chat on the phone to people who feel alone and speak little/no English. These are all remote volunteering opportunities.
If you know someone who works in pharmacy or food retail management or have recruitment/headhunting experience, the Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid group need your help! We are reaching out to Oxford area managers of bigger stores and pharmacies who we can develop working relationships with. Please let us know if you can help put us in touch with someone who can help from: Sainsbury's, Tesco, Rowlands, The Co-op, M&S, Waitrose, Iceland, Lidl, Aldi, B&M. Email
Academic staff needed. The John Radcliffe hospital is looking for academic staff with molecular biology and ideally PCR/qPCR experience to help deliver increasing numbers of Covid-19 screening tests. This is paid work. Please email if you can help.
Communicators needed to help volunteer groups responding to covid-19 with their communications. Calling people who can build websites, design graphics, write copy, create messaging, plan and strategise, illustrate, animate, make and edit video, and design social media communications that fly. Please email Lucy Warin () with a sentence or two about your skills and availability.
Call for kitchen space! Oxford Mutual Aid urgently needs more kitchens in which to prepare hot food for the elderly and for children who usually receive free school means, in partnership with Age UK and Dementia Oxfordshire. If your business or institution has a kitchen which is currently unused, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
Oxford Mutual Aid are looking for donations of old laptops and tablets for children who currently have no access to online learning. Please email email@example.com if you can help.
Oxford Mutual Aid are looking for insured drivers with refrigerated vans to help with their food deliveries. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
Like cooking? Know some good recipes using simple ingredients? Oxford Mutual Aid is collecting recipes which can be made using food bank items (pasta, rice, tinned food, beans and pulses, basic veg, UHT milk, etc.) which can be printed and distributed with food bank parcels to people who may not have regular internet access or money for recipe books. If you've got any creative recipe ideas, please direct message Marianne Tambini on Facebook.
Oxford Mutual Aid are looking for donations of puzzle books, pencils, pens, notebooks, reading material, DVDs and similar to make life more bearable for those in self-isolation here. Bulk donations only at this point. Please email email@example.com if you can help. Alternatively, please donate to the Oxford Mutual Aid fundraiser to help purchase these items for distribution here.
Emmaus Oxford is still delivering essential household items to vulnerable people in Oxfordshire. They really need: electric cookers; washing machines; fridge freezers, TVs, kettles, pots and pans; and microwaves (see here) for the full list. If you have useable things you want to get rid of, give Emmaus a call on 01865 763698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org - staff will collect from your address, using PPE and practising physical distancing.
The Windrush Bike Project are looking for donations of bikes and money so that they can continue to provide free bikes to essential workers without access to transport - here
CALL FOR DONATIONS: Botley Community Fridge is in need of toothbrushes, baby wipes, and tinned soup/stew (with ring pulls) for deliveries to the homeless community. Please drop off donations at Seacourt Hall (3 Church Way OX2 9TH, just off West Way, behind Barclays Bank) between 12 noon and 1pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Do you have a restaurant or food retail business? Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid is urgently looking for unused packaging/storage for our food parcels, including: excess takeaway containers/food safe containers so that bulk donations can be safely split into parcels for individual families; and new/unused medium-sized boxes and carrier/takeaway bags. Bulk donations only, please. If you can help, please e-mail email@example.com
Do you have a contact with a local business/chain that would be willing to donate any of the following for deliveries to NHS staff? Please get in touch with Jack Doyle directly via Facebook message. Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid cannot accept individual donations of these items at present.
Bath stuff (soap, bath bombs/salts)
Skincare items (lotion, face masks, etc)
Chocolates and sweets
Small plant friends (seeds, succulents, bulbs)
More healthcare staff are driving due to public transport restrictions and thousands of volunteers and NHS retirees are joining them on the frontline, which is overloading many hospital car parks. This means there is a scarcity of parking spaces. For any of you who have a parking space/driveway/garage, you can offer it free to NHS staff on www.justpark.com. Also www.yourparkingspace.co.uk is offering the same option.
Oxfordshire NHS has requested donations for care packages for their staff: here
Oxford Hospitals Charity is coordinating offers of gifts or supplies. If you know of a business offering gifts of food, toiletries, or any other support, please in the first instance email Hazel () at Oxford Hospitals Charity, and she will help to ensure that your, or their, generosity results in the maximum possible benefit for our staff. Please do not put yourself at risk by coming on to hospital sites to deliver gifts or supplies. Donations to fund support for OUH staff can be made here
Call for support for medics: The NHS staff at the JR would like support in supplying laundry bags which will enable them to take their work clothes home safely and wash them without removing them from the bag. The laundry bags are simple drawstring bags, about the size of a pillow case. Fabric needs to be able to withstand multiple hot washes - cotton and polycotton should be fine. If you are able to assist, please join https://www.facebook.com/groups/oxfordshirecrafters/ or email
Personal protective equipment (PPE): Does your business have unused supplies of PPE, especially boxes of FFP3 facemasks? Fill out the form here to help create an emergency supply for frontline staff.
Call for PPE: Katharine House Hospice needs personal protective equipment! Does your business or school still have a supply? If you have any liquid resistant surgical masks, face visors, goggles, liquid resistant gowns, gloves, aprons, scrubs, shoe covers, antiseptic wipes, or hand sanitiser, please donate. Call 01295 811866.
Call for equipment return from NHS Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group: Have you been loaned NHS chairs, beds, wheeled commodes, mattresses, electrical items, bed rails, walking or toilet frames, telecare items, or slings? If you no longer need them, please hand them back. To arrange a collection, please call NRS Healthcare on 01869 225420 (8.30am-4.30pm, Monday-Friday) or email . Please make sure the equipment has an NRS sticker with a barcode. If you have any items apart from those listed above, please keep hold of it until after the Covid-19 crisis has passed.
Oxfordshire Period Drive is seeking to raise £500 to buy more sanitary products for people in need, in isolation, or both. They are currently sourcing supplies for a mental health charity and new mothers. If you can help, please donate here.
Oxford Mutual Aid, University College, Dementia Oxfordshire, and Age UK are teaming up to provide simple hot meals for distribution across the city to both elderly and homeless people. See here to find out more and go here to donate to this project.
The Porch Day Centre has been working amazingly hard since the start of the crisis to support homeless and vulnerably housed people in Oxford, cooking and distributing food every day of the week, providing sanitary products and other essential items, and doing welfare checks. They are having to close the centre and adapt it to provide street outreach services only, and are in urgent need of funds to do so. Please donate here to help them reach their £20,000 target.
Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid fundraiser: £5 will feed someone in need. £20 will keep a vulnerable family supplied for a week. £50 will fill the van with a week's worth of petrol. Donate and see where the money's being spent at here
Local charity SOFEA are coordinating efforts to supply large numbers of food parcels to the most vulnerable in our local communities. They are asking for donations to this scheme here
Cyclox and Active Oxfordshire are raising funds to provide 100 free bikes to key workers in Oxfordshire. If you can help them reach their target of £10,000, please donate here. The money raised will cover safety checks by professional mechanics; locks & other gear; and transportation costs. A donation of £20 will cover locks and lights for one bike.
Oxford Hub is seeking to raise £15,000 for the Oxford Together campaign, to coordinate volunteers across the city and connect them with vulnerable people. Donate: here.
20th May is national Thank A Teacher Day. Get involved at https://thankateacher.co.uk/
Oxford University study to track what helps or harms teenagers' mental health during the pandemic, see here
Boy raises money through 2.6 Challenge for Helen & Douglas, see here
Admiral Car Insurance are rewarding their car and van insurance customers for staying home by giving back a total of £110 million. Customers do not need to do anything to receive their refund, it will be given automatically. Admiral are doing this to reflect the fact there have been fewer cars on the road since lockdown began and, they expect this to result in fewer claims. The Cabin Office figures suggest there has been a 63% fall in road traffic.
Cotswold Wildlife Park celebrates 50 years in old pictures here
Abingdon's Ben Heaney provides 'Musical Health Service' to community in coronavirus lockdown. For more details on Ben Heaney and the Music Health Service, go to deltaviolin.com. Also see: facebook.com/deltaviolin and search for Ben on Youtube
Chase the Rainbow Campaign. People in Oxfordshire are painting rainbows and hanging them in their windows to bring hope and joy, especially to children on walks. Maybe you would like to take part in the Chase the Rainbow campaign?
The Beacon, Wantage, is putting together an online gallery of people's Rainbow Campaign window art! If you took part in the Rainbow Campaign, you can submit a photograph of your work and see other people's here
Isolation Creations: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, challenges public to get creative on lockdown. Link
Oxford Tenants' Union Day of Action, Wednesday 29th April: Join Oxford Tenants Union and ACORN Oxford's joint day of action to support renters and prevent illegal evictions, without leaving your home. See here for full details. How to take part: Make a banner or poster saying: BE SAFE, JUST STAY, EVEN IF YOU CANNOT PAY - RENTERS CANNOT BE EVICTED DURING COVID 19 #StandUp4Renters (Or a phrase or slogan of your own making!) On Wednesday 29th April, hang your banner out of your window, take a picture, and share it on social media.
The County Council is inviting everyone to get involved in this year's online May Morning celebrations - here. Share memories, pictures and videos using the hashtag #MayMorning. From 6am tomorrow, a pre-recorded video of the choir will be streamed on Magdalen College’s Facebook page. And at 8am the community band Horns of Plenty will play ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ from their respective homes and are asking residents to join in.
Oxford Tenant Union are calling on renters to share their stories via Facebook or by joining their weekly Zoom calls at 6pm on Mondays. They're collecting stories to better inform their campaigning. Find them here.
#Clap your hands for the NHS is a regular Thursday action at 8pm.
Daily Info is compiling virtual events listings - music, poetry, religious worship, fitness classes, quizzes, and more: here
Cowley Road Carnival
Charlbury Riverside Festival cancelled
Henley Festival postponed to 2021
Peartree Park & Ride is now closed
Wytham Woods are closed to visitors until further notice.
Canal Towpath: Use is limited. No exercising. Areas with residential mooring are to be avoided entirely.
The Oxford Covered Market is closed; you can see which businesses are offering a delivery service or accepting online orders at https://www.oxford.gov.uk/coveredmarket
The crises revealed by the crisis
Prisons & Detention Centers
This information was compiled on 30 March 2020 by our researcher Tim. It needs an update. By April 7, nine prison inmates have died of Covid-19.
Deaths / spread of virus / projected deaths
There have been two reported Coronavirus-related deaths in UK prisons during March.
On 27th March, ITV reported that some 27 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus across 14 prisons, according to the Ministry of Justice. They include: Wandsworth (at least 7 cases). Manchester, Cookham Wood, Leeds, Birmingham, Oakwood, Wymott, Leyhill, Pentonville, Huntercombe, Barton Moss secure children’s home.
As of 25th March, four prison staff had tested positive for the disease across four jails. Three prisoner escort and custody services staff have also tested positive for Covid-19.
The BBC reported on 26th March that an 84-year-old man, Edwin Hillier, an inmate at HMP Littlehey in Cambridgeshire, became the first British prisoner to die after contracting coronavirus.
The Metro reported that a second 66-year old inmate had died after contracting coronavirus while in HMP Manchester.
BBC journalist Danny Shaw reported that, as of 25th March, the number of prisoners self-isolating was 968, up 176 on the day before. Two prisons are not transferring prisoners in or out: Birmingham, Littlehey. Several others have restrictions on transfers: Manchester, Oakwood, Wandsworth. Shaw notes that ‘spread of the virus was widely predicted. The staff absence rate- which doesn’t include non-Covid related illness…appears to have risen faster than expected’. Shaw believes that this will be ‘of immense concern’ to the Ministry of Justice and ‘put further pressure on them for early releases’.
On 25th March, 6,644 prison staff were absent because of Covid-19 related issues, up 1042 on 24th March and comprising almost 20% of the prison workforce.
Professor Robert Coker has stated that, unless individuals are released, a scenario where 60% of prisoners become infected with coronavirus is plausible and credible.
Regarding detainees, the charity Women for Refugee Women stated on 22nd March that one case of Covid-19 had been confirmed at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre (IRC). Other cases were reported at Brook House near Gatwick.
On 26th March the Guardian reported that ‘the high court has rejected calls to free hundreds of immigration detainees who, lawyers and human rights activists say, are at risk from Covid-19 while behind bars.’
In relation to the current situation for detainees, Bella Sankey, Director of Detention Action stated that: ‘We have spoken with people currently detained at Yarl’s Wood, Harmondsworth, Colnbrook, Morton Hall & Brook House IRCs, and they report that either no soap or insufficient soap has been provided; no information has been provided about Covid19; and the centres remain deeply unhygienic with insufficient cleaning materials to be kept clean. Rooms are multiple occupancy with toilets in rooms and hundreds of individuals are mixing each day, including with staff and visitors coming in and out of the centre. Following Government advice on hygiene, self-isolation and social distancing is impossible for those in detention.’
UK government response
According to ITV News, on 24th March prisons in England and Wales were put on "immediate lockdown" with all visits cancelled.
The Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service said the measure was to "ensure the safe and secure functioning of our prisons, while enforcing social distancing."
HM Prison Service said robust contingency plans had been put in place at its facilities in consultation with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care. It added that prisons are well prepared to take immediate action wherever cases or suspected cases of Covid-19 are identified, including the isolation of individuals where necessary.
On 28th March, the Guardian reported that ‘Prisoners approaching the end of their sentences could be released from next week, as the Scottish government moves to prevent an “increasingly alarming” coronavirus crisis in the country’s jails’.
In addition, the UK justice secretary, Robert Buckland, said on 24th March that he was considering temporary release as one of a number of options to mitigate the public health crisis in English prisons, after campaigners warned that prisoners with health issues were ‘facing death sentences’.
Official information is available on the government website.
Guidance for support / prisoner’s rights
There are several civil society groups working on prison abolition, reform, detainee rights and related issues. They have made proposals on how to deal with the current crisis, outlined support prisoners need, and suggested ways in which the public can get involved with their work. For example:
Calls for the government to ‘urgently release a proportion of the prison population to protect them from the current public health crisis’ and has said that prisons are ‘high-risk environments for the rapid spread of Covid-19 – and that this could be a death sentence for many, including victims of miscarriages of justice’.
Calls for the ‘immediate release of all those in prison and detention centres due to COVID-19’.
Demands that ‘those currently detained should be released and suitable accommodation provided, if necessary to prevent street homelessness, including accommodation that allows for self-isolation.’
Has stated that ‘many prisons are grossly crowded and insanitary. We already know that some officers and prisoners have been diagnosed with coronavirus and the very last thing we want is for prisons to become like 18th-century breeding grounds of disease.’ The charity proposes a range of measures focused on ‘reducing the flow of people into the most stressed prisons’ and easing people ‘who could be safely released back out into the community’.
Have asked the Ministry of Justice to ‘release groups of prisoners in order to lessen the impact of coronavirus in the penal estate’.
Argues that it is ‘vital that while creating some headroom through releases, the flow of people into prisons is also drastically reduced. That means not sending anyone to prison for all but the most serious alleged or proved offending, and not recalling people to prison in all but the most dangerous of circumstances.’
SPARC has called for the provision of free stationery, phone credit and tablets so all prisoners can make use of video-calls during the health crisis, alongside a lifting of the ban on mobile phones.
Prisons in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire is home to two prisons, HMP Bullingdon and HMP Huntercombe.
It was reported by the Oxford Mail on 11th February that Bullingdon prison had visits suspended for 72 hours and ‘certain cell block lockdowns’ after a suspected coronavirus case. Concern focused on a prisoner extradited from Thailand on drugs charges.
Since 24th March all visits to Huntercombe prison have been cancelled due to the government’s lockdown. The prison authorities announced it would review its decision in three weeks.
New analysis by the think tank IPPR shows that migrants are more likely to be working in industries affected by the crisis, including accommodation and food services; more likely to be self-employed and in temporary work; and far less likely to own their own home. This places them in a particularly precarious situation in the current crisis. Yet despite these risks, many migrants in the UK have only a limited access to the UK welfare system. This means that migrants often face the choice of continuing to work in spite of the health risks or losing their livelihoods. This poses a significant danger to both individual workers and to efforts to minimise the transmission of the virus. IPPR propose emergency measures to lift restrictions on access to benefits and public services, in order to limit the economic fallout of coronavirus and protect public health. More information here: https://www.ippr.org/blog/migrant-workers-and-coronavirus
Migrants whose visas expire during the present coronavirus pandemic will not face removal, the government has said in an updated immigration advice notice. Foreign nationals whose leave to remain in the country expires between 24 January and 31 May who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation relation to Covid-19 can get a visa extension until 31 May. They need to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. The Home Office is also altering the rules on applications for long term visas. It is temporarily allowing migrants apply for
long term UK visas from within the country instead of requiring applicants to leave and apply from their home country.
Resources for asylum seekers: The Refugee Action Good Practice and Partnerships Team is putting together useful resources at http://www.coronavirusasylumhandbook.com/home. You can also send a confidential email to Oxford Covid-19 Mutual Aid on to be connected to Oxfordshire resources for asylum seekers and refugees.
The mutual aid group Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK have assembled a Guide for Supporting Migrants During Coronavirus. It contains useful information on how to help migrants access healthcare, how to help them navigate the punitive UK immigration system in this time of crisis, translations of health advice, and much more. Find it here: LINK.