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Help getting food during COVID-19

Some people will need help getting food during COVID-19, this could be for a number of reasons, such as they are shielding, they are unable to get to the shops or that they can't afford food.   Anyone in need can phone the COVID-19 freephone community helpline on 0808 802 0020 or visit the Advice NI website here to get help.  The level of help given will depend on your circumstances: 

  • If you need help with your shopping (shielded or not shielded) , but you already have someone to help you (eg family, friends, neighbours) then you should continue to get this help.
  • if you don't have anyone to help you with your shopping and you can afford food, then you should get deliveries from local shops or supermarkets.  If you are shielded you can register for access to a priority online delivery slot from Asda, Sainsbury's, Tesco or Iceland.  Click here to register.   There may also be volunteers in local community groups that will pick up your shopping.  Advice NI can help you find a local community group.  
  • If you can leave the house, but you can't afford food, a referral will be made to a foodbank.
  • If you are shielded, don't have help and can't afford food, a food box will be offered. 

Food boxes are being distributed by councils through ‘Council Coordination Hubs’. If you call the COVID freephone community helpline on 0808 802 0020 or visit the Advice NI website here, you will be referred to your local Health and Social Care Trust.    They will then arrange for you to receive a food box from either  your local council ‘Council Coordination Hub’ or a local community organisation.  The Department for Communities has a limited weekly capacity of 18,000 food parcels. The number is limited by sourcing of food, the capacity of suppliers to pack, prepare and distribute at volume – and additional limitations such as the need for social distancing requirements. 

Advice NI also offer support for those who need help with medicine delivery, fuel and social contact. Call the freephone number or visit their website. 

If you need any help for any other reason, go to Helplines NI. The contact details of all helplines in Northern Ireland are on this site. 

This article is part of the COVID-19 Information Dissemination (COVID-19 ID) Project — a partnership between Community Development and Health Network (CDHN) and FactCheckNI. Its aim is to improve people’s health literacy about COVID-19 by providing accurate and up-to-date information which will increase knowledge, understanding and confidence and enable people to make good health decisions.