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Latest news, information and sources of help, advice and support in Scotland

This section contains information for carers about advice and help that is available in Scotland to support carers. It is intended to complement information produced by Carers UK to support carers across all four nations with specific information that only applies to carers. It is not intended to provide medical information or guidance on coronavirus which can be found at NHS Inform

The Scottish Government now has a dedicated page for information for carers here and guidance for unpaid carers providing personal care here.

You can find out more about the rules in your area by checking the Scottish Government postcode checker.  This gives details of all the guidance by local protection level.  They have also published a strategic framework which sets out how they will work to suppress the virus and presents information on how decisions are made and balanced.

This section includes a range of information and downloads with links to organisations such as carer and young carer services and information on financial and practical help available. 

Help with Practicalities

National Helpline

The Scottish Government have a national helpline for people at higher risk from COVID19 who do not have family or community support. The helpline can be contacted on 0800 111 4000 between 9am and 5pm.  The service offers help to those who do not have family or existing community support who are: over 70, disabled, require the support of mental health services, are pregnant or receive the flu jab for health reasons.  This service is in addition to localised support already available for people who have received letters advising them to shield themselves. However, any of those in the shielding category who are not yet receiving assistance can also access support via this new helpline.

If you are a BSL user or use text relay services click here to read our article on how to access this service.

Local support organisations

Local councils/partnerships with their local volunteer centres have established a range of solutions to help people who are self isolating, who still wish to shield or are otherwise at higher risk and their carers. You can find these by visiting our local support directory or by calling the National Helpline on 0800 111 4000 

Local carers centres and young carers services

Many local carers centres remain physically closed but are working towards appointment only services at their centres.  They are still providing support via telephone and email and have online support and activities.  Some have grants and other funds such as the Time to Live fund available to help carers. Click here to visit our online support directory which has details of all centres in Scotland. 

Local young carers services are still providing support through phone, email and online and will be able to advise when they will be able to offer face to face support.  The document below provides key contact details for these services. 


Young Carers Services
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Latest News and Advice

Stay at Home guidance

Guidance on what you can and cannot do in Scotland has changed.  From 5 January 2021, the Scottish Government has required that, by law, in a Level 4 area, you can only leave your home (or garden) for an essential purpose.  Full stay at home guidance can be found here.

All of mainland Scotland will be in Level 4. Orkney, Shetland, Na h-Eileanan Siar and the more remote islands in Argyll and Bute and Highland in Level 3, with the exception of the Isle of Skye which is in Level 4.

If you live in a level 4 area you should not travel apart from essential purposes.  If you live in a level 3 area, you should not travel outwith your local area.  There are some reasonable excuses to leave your home or to travel to another area, including the following which are particularly relevant to unpaid carers:

  • to provide care and support for a vulnerable person
  • for essential shopping, including essential shopping for a vulnerable person. You should use online shopping or shops and other services in your immediate area wherever you can. 
  • for healthcare
  • for childcare or support services
  • to access public services where it is not possible to do so, including from home.  This includes social care and day services.
  • to visit a person in your extended household
  • visiting a loved one in a care home is classed as essential travel

Read more about what is a reasonable excuse to leave your home here.  Read more about travel restrictions here.

Meeting others indoors in a person's house

You should not meet others outwith your household indoors.  However, you can go into another person’s house for certain reasons.  These include essential work, to join your extended household or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person. This can include providing emotional support for someone whose wellbeing is at risk, including for those who are isolated because of disability or a caring situation. 

Home visits by tradespeople should only be for essential services.  This might include, for example: essential heating repairs or safety checks or delivery; repair or install key household furniture and appliances such as washing machines, fridges and cookers and to carry out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety. This also includes domestic cleaning services "in support of a clean and safe living environment for people in vulnerable circumstance, living with a disability or otherwise unable to clean their own home".

Meeting others outdoors

You can only meet people from another household outdoors for certain reasons, such as to join your extended household, for exercise or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person. This can include providing emotional support for someone whose wellbeing is at risk, including for those who are isolated because of disability or a caring situation.  

Up to 2 people from 2 separate households can meet outdoors for exercise or social interaction. 

Extended households

Rules permitting extended households remain in place.  There are two circumstances where this is allowed:

  • If you are an adult and you live alone, or if all others in your household are under 18, you, any children who live with you, and the members of one other household (of any size) can agree to form an 'extended household'. This will allow  people who live alone (or those living only with children under the age of 18) to be considered part of another household in order to reduce loneliness, isolation and to provide mutual social support.
  • If two adults  are in a relationship and they do not live together, they, and any children they each live with, can agree to form an 'extended household'.

Shielding

The Chief Medical Officer wrote to everyone on the shielding list during the week beginning 4 January to set out advice.  The Scottish Government are not advising you stop going outside. However, they have advised that people on the shielding list should stay home as much as possible but can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines.

You should minimise contact with people outside your own household if you can.  You should not take public transport.

If you, your child or someone you care for is on the shielding list, you can sign up for priority access to supermarket online delivery slots.  See our shielding section for more details.

Schools

From 5 January to 29 January, schools can only open to in-person learning for children of key workers and vulnerable children, with remote learning for all other children and young people from 11 January to 29 January.   For the children of key workers, schools will open and stay open as normal. They will also open as normal for the most vulnerable children.  Read more here.

Car Sharing

The Scottish Government says that you should only car share with members of your own, or extended, household, and follow guidance when there is no alternative.  Carers Scotland have sought advice as to how this will impact on carers who do not live with the person they care for.  Carers Scotland have been advised that unpaid carers can share a car with the person they care for if necessary but should follow the guidance on travelling in a car with others, which you can find here

COVID19 vaccination

With the news of a vaccine being approved, Carers Scotland is working with the Scottish Government and partners to discuss how and when unpaid carers will be vaccinated.  We are awaiting clear information that we can share with carers so that you know what to do and when.  We will update this page as we have this information.  The following key information has been provided by the Scottish Government's Carers Branch:

  • Unpaid carers under the age of 65 will be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine alongside those with underlying health conditions which puts them at risk of the virus. Carers aged 65 and above will be able to access the vaccine earlier under the initial groupings.
  • This prioritisation recognises the important role carers play in supporting those they care for and the health and social care system.
  • JCVI will continue to monitor vaccine data and approvals and update their advice where necessary.
  • Timescales for carers and others to receive the vaccine will become clearer as we know more about vaccine approvals and when supplies will be delivered.
  • The Scottish Government will seek to write out to as many carers as possible to inform them of their eligibility for the vaccine but they recognise this will not reach everyone who needs it so this will be supplemented by wider public messaging and other forms of communications.  They are working with national and local carer organisations as well as condition-specific charities to ensure a coherent approach that reaches as many carers as possible and encourages them to come forward to receive the vaccination.

The Scottish Government have added a section on their pages for carers on the vaccine.  At the moment it has limited information but it will be updated when further details of how and when carers will access the vaccine becomes available so please bookmark.  Click here to view the information.


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Testing and the Test and Protect

Testing

Testing for coronavirus is now for available to anyone with symptoms in Scotland. The test determines whether someone currently has the virus or not, and is a key part of the Scottish Government’s Test & Protect strategy. The national carer organisations, including Carers Scotland, has produced a briefing which provides the key points on testing that unpaid carers should be aware of.

The coronavirus test is for anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus. Symptoms are: continuous cough; fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater); loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste. More information on symptoms and how to manage them can be found on NHS Inform.

Test and Protect

Test and Protect is a public health measure designed to interrupt the spread of coronavirus in the community by:

  • identifying people who have the virus
  • tracing those who have been in close contact with an infected person for a long enough period of time to be at risk of infection
  • supporting these close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they have the virus they are less likely to transmit it to others

How contact tracing works

Everyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be put in touch with their local contact tracing team or the National Contact Tracing Service to help identify who they’ve been in close contact with.

If you have tested positive, contact tracers will:

  • contact you by phone or text message – there’s no need to log in to a website
  • ask you who you live with, who you have been physically close to recently and where you have been
  • decide which of these people might be infected based on how long they spent with you and how physically close they were
  • contact these people to tell them to isolate for 14 days
  • advise you on how to apply for a self isolation grant

NHS Scotland contact tracers will:

  • in some cases, send a text to let you know that you will be receiving a call from NHS Scotland  (if mobile is available)
  • call from a single, national telephone number - 0800 030 8012
  • always introduce themselves, tell you why they are contacting you and address you by your name
  • give you the option to call back the above number to provide reassurance that the service is legitimate

They will never ask for bank details, to make a purchase or to call a premium rate line.

You can find out more about Test and Protect and a range of information including, getting support, informing employers and self isolating by clicking here.  Downloadable leaflets are available in a range of languages. Click here for more information.  Videos are also available in:

Protect Scotland App

The Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect is a free, mobile phone app designed to help us protect each other and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

The app will alert you if you have been in close contact with another app user who tests positive for coronavirus. And if you test positive, it can help in determining contacts that you may have otherwise missed while keeping your information private and anonymous.

Versions are available for both android and apple phones.

Find out more here.


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Shielding or at Higher Risk

Shielding advice if you live in a lockdown area

The Chief Medical Officer wrote to everyone on the shielding list during the week beginning 4 January to set out advice.  They are not advising that people shielding stop going outside, to reduce the impact on mental and physical health.  However, they should stay home as much as possible but can still go out for exercise and essential shopping or medicines.

Those shielding should minimise contact with people outside their own household and should not take public transport.  Read the guidance here.

If you cannot work from home

The Scottish Government are strongly recommending that people living in a lockdown area on the shielding list do NOT go to work if they can't work from home.  This also includes if they have been vaccinated. 

If you cannot work from home, if you live or work in an area in lockdown, you should not go to work.  The letter you will receive from the Chief Medical Officer acts as a fit note for as long as lockdown restrictions are in place.

This letter is called a shielding notification and can be shown to your employer without the need for a GP fit note.

If you cannot work from home, your employer may be able to furlough you through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is at your employer's discretion. 

If you are not furloughed, you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit, or other benefits.  You can get advice from Citizens Advice Scotland about what help might be available here.

School/ formal childcare

Although schools are closed, some children who are shielding would have been able to attend school eg. as children of key workers.  However, the Scottish Government have advised that children on the shielding list should not attend in person.  

Shielding advice if you live in a level 3 area

If you or the person you care for lives in a level 3 area, you should follow advice for this area.  Find out more here.

Information for all people on the shielding list

There is also a range of Scottish Government information specifically for people who have been shielding to provide advice on a range of topics including work, school and more. You can find this here (this is regularly updated to reflect changes).  People who on the shielding list can sign up for text updates and alerts of the latest news.  You can do this by texting 07860 064525 with your CHI number at the top of your shielding letter or go to www.mygov.scot/shielding for further information.

You can access priority supermarket delivery slots (see below) and people will be able to go to their local authority for support for food provision if necessary.  If you need food support, call the the National Assistance Helpline number on 0800 111 4000.  The Helpline can also provide other assistance such as medicine delivery.

If you have not registered for priority access to an online delivery slot before, you can register now. If you are a parent of a child on the shielding list you'll need to register using the child's name. If you are a carer, use the name of the person you care for.

Through the text messaging service:

  • If you are already signed up to the Scottish Government Shielding text messaging service, sign up for priority access to online slots by texting 1SHOP to 07860 064525 from your mobile.
  • If you are not signed up to the text messaging service, join by sending a text from your mobile with your Community Health Index (CHI) number to 07860 064525. Your CHI number is the 10-digit number shown at the top of this letter.
  • After you have done this, text 1SHOP to 07860 064525 to sign up for priority access to online delivery slots.

By telephone

Please call the free National Assistance Helpline number on 0800 111 4000.

You can read the latest shielding advice and more detail on registering for assistance here.

People who are not shielding but are at high risk

As noted above, for those at high risk without family or community support, a national helpline has also been set up: 0800 111 4000 which will continue to help offer support with practical issues such as shopping and picking up medicines and to link individuals with other support in their communities.

Detailed information has been provided about specific conditions. There are separate versions for those who are shielding and those who are not.  This information can be found here.

If you feel you need more information about coronavirus but do not have symptoms, there is a free general information helpline which can be reached on 0800 028 2816.  The helpline is open from 8.00am to 10.00pm each day. 


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Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Carers in Scotland can request personal protective equipment (PPE) to support their caring role. The national carer organisations, including Carers Scotland, have produced a guide for carers about PPE which aims to answer frequently asked questions.  You can download this below. 

The Scottish Government has also provided detailed guidance for carers on PPE and and how to access it.  Click here to read the guidance.

In the first instance, you should contact your local carers centre – use our directory to find your nearest centre.


PPE for unpaid carers
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Home working and returning to work

Guidance has been published to support home working.  When non-essential workplaces begin to reopen, working from home and working flexibly will remain the default – if organisations have largely managed to have their staff working from home effectively during the pandemic, they should continue to do so wherever possible. In short, employers should continue to maximise homeworking in their organisations. This is the Scottish Government’s position and will continue to be when we move into Phase 4 of the Route Map. 

To read the guidance, click here

Guidance has also been produced for employers and employees on returning to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.  You can read this here.  There is also a more detailed range of guidance for different sectors that you can read as an employee on understanding what your employer needs to do to make your workplace as safe as possible.


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Face Coverings

In enclosed spaces, where physical distancing is more difficult and where there is a risk of close contact with multiple people who are not members of your household, you should wear a face covering.

People must by law wear a face covering in shops and on public transport and public transport premises such as railway and bus stations and airports. This applies to open-air railway platforms, but not to bus stops.  You will also be required to wear a face covering when attending hospital appointments or visiting someone in hospital or a care home.  If you or the person you care for are travelling by patient transport services to your appointment, again you will be expected to wear a face covering.  You will also be required to wear a face covering in:

  • any premises which open to members of the public and used for the retail sale or hire of goods or services, such as shops, takeaway restaurants, estate agents, beauty parlours. This includes hospitality premises such as bars and pubs or certain hospitality premises with table service such as cafes and restaurants except when you are seated at your table.
  • aquariums, indoor zoos or visitor farms, and any other indoor tourist, heritage or cultural site
  • banks, building societies and credit unions
  • cinemas
  • community centres
  • crematoriums and funeral directors premises
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • museums and galleries
  • places of worship
  • post offices
  • storage and distribution facilities, including collection and drop off points

Schools and School Transport

From Monday 31 August, face coverings should also be worn in the following circumstances (except where an adult or child/young person is exempt from wearing a covering):

  • where adults and young people in secondary schools are moving about the school in corridors and confined communal areas (including toilets) where physical distancing is particularly difficult to maintain; and
  • in line with the current arrangements for public transport, where adults and children and young people aged 5 and over are travelling on dedicated school transport

Face coverings are not generally required in classrooms or other learning and teaching environments. However, face coverings should be worn by adults where they cannot keep 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face for a sustained period (about 15 minutes or more) with other adults and/or children and young people.

In local authority areas in Levels 3 and 4, pupils in the senior phase – S4-6 – and their teachers should wear face coverings in classrooms, as well as when they are moving around the school and in communal areas.

Guidance for face coverings in schools can be found by clicking here.

What is a face covering?

A face covering can be any covering of the mouth and nose that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe.  Religious face coverings that cover the mouth and the nose count as face coverings for these purposes. You may also use, if you prefer, a face visor but it must cover your nose and mouth completely. When applying or removing the covering, it is important that you wash/sanitise your hands first and avoid touching your face. After each use, you must wash the face covering at 60 degrees centigrade or dispose of it safely.  Find out how to make your own face covering here.

Face covering exemptions

Some people are not required to wear a face covering where they are required by law.  This includes children under 5 years of age.

You may also have a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering which may be relevant to the person you care for.  These include:

  • you have a health condition or you are disabled and a face covering would be inappropriate because it would cause difficulty, pain or severe distress or anxiety or because you cannot apply a covering and wear it in the proper manner safely and consistently. Individual discretion should be applied in considering the use of face coverings for other children including, for example, children with breathing difficulties and disabled children who would struggle to wear a face covering
  • you are communicating with someone else who relies on lip reading
  • you are providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person and where wearing a face covering would make this more difficult. This also applies if someone needs emergency assistance and they don’t have a face covering with them or there is not time to put one on.

Exemption Card

The Scottish Government have launched an exemption card for those who are exempt from wearing face coverings. The purpose of this card is to support people to feel more confident and safe when accessing public spaces and using public services.The service will be delivered by Disability Equality Scotland (DES) on behalf of the Scottish Government and physical and digital cards are available to request online here or via a free helpline on 0800 121 6240.  

Workplaces

From 16 October, face coverings must also be worn in workplace canteens, when not seated at a table, such as when queueing, entering or leaving the canteen (in line with other hospitality venues) – from Friday 16 October.  From 19 October, face coverings must also be worn in other indoor communal workplaces such as corridors or social spaces.


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Mental Health and Wellbeing

WellbeingWe know this is a difficult time for everyone's mental health and wellbeing, and the strain for carers can be even more so. We have developed tips for carers on protecting your mental wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.  Find them here. 

Digital Wellbeing Hub

A new digital wellbeing hub has been set up to help unpaid carers, staff, volunteers, and their families access relevant support, and self-care and wellbeing resources as they respond to the #coronavirus (#COVIDー19) pandemic. Carers can access this at: https://www.promis.scot/individuals/

Breathing Space

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings and speak to someone you trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, your GP or a helpline such as Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or NHS 24 on 111.  The Breathing Space website has a range of information about mental wellbeing and links to other organisations.  It also provides information on accessing their support if you require BSL intepretation.

ClearyourHeadTwitterClear Your Head

Clear Your Head has a range of hints and tips to support your mental health and wellbeing during these uncertain times.  To visit the dedicated website, click here.

 

Other sources of information

  • The Mental Health Foundation provide generic advice including information on e.g. staying connected with family and friends; being active; tips on stress management and on keeping a daily routine. Click here
  • For children and young people, Young Scot have published an online resource containing advice, and also links to other help and support: 
  • For those suffering with an eating disorder, support and advice can be found here 
  • For those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), tips on how to keep well can be found here
  • People with autism or carers of people with autism can contact Scottish Autism who provide advice via email and a call-back service
  • NHS Inform have a range of information about your mental wellbeing including self help guides and links to organisations you can talk to. Click here for more information.

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Short Breaks

It has been inevitable that short breaks services have not be running as normal, if at all. All over the world organisations are looking at how they can deliver things differently. Shared Care Scotland have brought together a list of short breaks for strange times. These include everything from online courses, virtual museums, exercise programmes, read-alongs, and websites for children and young people, as well as support services that are delivering online. Visit the Shared Care Scotland website to find out more.

The Scottish Government's carers information has further details on other support available. This includes grants through the Time to Live Fund available at local carers centres. This is a small grant fund available for people of all ages, including young carers, who are providing care.

Click here for Scottish Government information about these and other support for breaks.

Reopening of day services and residential respite

On the 3 August the Scottish Government wrote to Health and Social Care Partnerships and others advising that registered day care and stand-alone residential respite services can reopen, subject to being adapted and risk assessed in line with certain existing guidance; and agreement to the approach by the local Health Protection teams and the Care Inspectorate. It was also advised further guidance would be issued as soon as possible and this is expected around the end of August. The letter is published on the Scottish Government website and explains the guidance to be used by registered services.

Click here for Scottish Government latest information on the reopening of day services and respite.

The Cabinet Secretary for Health has written to Health and Social Care Partnerships on 13 October reinterating the importance of reopening day services and respite in supporting unpaid carers and, where this is not possible, encouraging options to be offered to carers through self directed support.  You can read this letter here.


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Emergency Planning

Planning for an emergency or contingency should you be unable to care during this period is important.  Enable Scotland have produced an emergency planning toolkit to help carers. The emergency planning toolkit will help you create an emergency plan. By answering ‘Who, What Why, Where and When’, you will be able to plan for any unforeseen circumstances.Click here for more information.

There is also further information on creating a contingency plan here.

You can also contact your local carers centre should you need advice and support on emergency planning.  Information on their arrangements and contact details are listed earlier on this page.


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Caring for someone in a care home

For unpaid carers and family who care for someone who lives in a residential or nursing care home, the pandemic has been an extremely difficult time and, until recently, visiting apart from at end of life has not been permitted.  The Scottish Goverment has produced guidance on the reintroduction of visiting to care homes. This is for homes that have had no outbreak or within which have been declared free of an outbreak by public health. Care Homes should provide families with information on this visiting and what to expect but an information leaflet for visiting can be found here.  The full guidance on care home visiting can be found here

The Scottish Government announced on 12 October that there would be some easing of restrictions on care home visiting.  This includes:

  • extending the length of time for visits indoors from 30 minutes to up to four hours
  • supporting personal interaction, where visitors can support personal care and daily routine activities, provided this is agreed with the care home and takes place in residents’ rooms
  • touch – enabling contact with loved ones (such as holding hands or hugging) with regular training and supervision for visitors to put on and take off PPE and safety guidelines

You can download more information here


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Scottish Welfare Fund and the Self Isolation Grant

Scottish Welfare Fund

Families and individuals in Scotland facing emergency situations can apply for a Crisis Grant from their local authority through the Scottish Welfare Fund. An additional £45 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund has been announced, which more than doubles the current £35.5m Fund. 

To find out more about the Scottish Welfare Fund and how you might apply visit here

Self Isolation Grant

Applications for the Self-Isolation Support Grant have opened for low income workers who are asked to self-isolate and would lose income if they needed to isolate.

The £500 grant will help those who have been asked by Test and Protect to isolate, following testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.  From 7 December, the £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant is being extended to include parents on low incomes whose children (aged under 16) are asked to self-isolate who have to take time off work as a result.

To be eligible for the grant, you must:

  • have been told by Test and Protect to self-isolate as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), either because you have tested positive for coronavirus or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tested positive
  • be employed or self-employed
  • be unable to work from home, and lose income as a result of self-isolation

You must also be getting one or more of these benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit

If you have been awarded one of these benefits, but haven't had a payment yet, you will still be eligible for the Self-Isolation Support Grant.  In addition from 7 December, eligibility will also be extended to people with a low level of income which means they would be entitled to Universal Credit.  

If all of these things do not apply to you, you will not be eligible for a Self-Isolation Support Grant. You might be able to get a Crisis Grant if you are on a low income and are having money problems because you have to self-isolate.

If you are contacted by Test and Protect, you will be provided with advice on how to apply.  These grants are being administered by local councils.  

Find out more here.


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Other Financial Help

Turn2Us

Turn2Us is an online directory of grants and other financial assistance available to people experiencing poverty.  They also have information on specific grants to help people during COVID19.  Find out more here

Family Fund

Family Fund supports low income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people. They can provide grants for essential items such as kitchen appliances, clothing, bedding, sensory toys and computers. Find out more here.

Benefits and other financial help

Our financial help pages provide information on a range of benefits and other financial help to which you and/or the person you care for may be entitled including carer's, disability and low income benefits as well as reductions in council tax, help with heating costs and more   Find out more here.

Help through local councils

As well as the Scottish Welfare Fund, local councils can also provide advice on a range of money issues including e.g. school meals and uniforms, council tax reductions, help with managing debt and maximising your income.  Find your local council here.


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