For so many people this is going to be a Christmas like no other, and with the new restrictions announced on Saturday, many people will be struggling.
However, whatever you situation help is available.
1. Connection, a free 24/7 mental health helpline is open Christmas and New Year. Call 111 and select ‘mental health’ or phone 0300 123 5440. See further services at www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/access-mental-health.
2. Mind has a team of specialist advisers waiting to be contacted on 0300 123 3393 (local rate from landline, cost of mobile calls may vary). Contact by at email@example.com, or by text on 86463. They are open 9am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day).
3. Samaritans have a confidential helpline available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s free to phone on 116 123.
If you prefer to write down your feelings, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (response within 24 hours) or write a letter to Chris, Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING FK8 2SA. Please allow at least 7 days for a reply to be sent to you.
4. If you are suffering from domestic abuse, there is You First. Call free on 0800 032 5204 or visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/dvahelp. In an emergency, always call 999.
5. Anyone staying at home because of COVID-19 without the support of family, friends or neighbours can request help from the Dorset Together team. Support includes food shopping and delivery, collection of prescriptions, dog walking and befriending. During office hours, help can be accessed via www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/coronavirus or by calling the Dorset Together helpline on 01305 221000 (local call charges apply). Outside normal working hours, and over the Christmas period, callers will be transferred to the support they need.
6. If you are concerned about a vulnerable adult who may be at risk, call 01305 221016 during office hours or 01305 858250 out of hours. Call 999 if you think someone may be at immediate risk of harm.
7. The Age UK Advice Line is open 8am to 7pm, 365 days a year. It is a free, confidential, national phone service for older people, their families, friends, carers and professionals. From a broken boiler, loneliness, scams and fraud advice, to keeping well and friendships, call free on 0800 678 1602 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk
8. A range of local support services can also be found on the Help and Kindness website. This includes befriending, food banks, hot meals and festive phone calls. See all the support available at www.helpandkindness.co.uk
9. If you are concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person, please call the council’s Children’s Advice and Duty Service on 01305 228866. Call 999 if you think someone may be at immediate risk of harm.
10. Dorset Council is working with schools to make sure families who need it (including those who receive free school meals) can receive food vouchers during the holidays.
The council is also working closely with local support groups and charities to help provide communities with support. This includes food banks, community fridges, community meals and social supermarkets. To access support, visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/ReachingOut and click on ‘Access to Food’.
11. If you’re struggling to pay bills or are worried about money it’s important to get help straight away. Over the Christmas and New Year period, support is available from the Samaritans and Age UK.
12. Before 24 December and after 4 January, advisers from Dorset Citizens Advice can talk through the options available for managing debt and unpaid bills. Call the Dorset Adviceline on Freephone 0800 144 8848.
13. Dorset Council operates a homelessness emergency out of hours service every day including Bank Holidays. Telephone 01305 221000.
If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping contact Streetlink on 0300 500 0914. If the person you are concerned about is under 18, or if they appear to be in immediate danger, you should call 999.
For further support or guidance, contact Shelter on 0344 515 1400 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) or visit www.england.shelter.org.uk/get_help.
14. Visit www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk for all Dorset Council services, including opening times and bin collections over the Christmas period. Call the council on 01305 221000 (an out of hours answering service will operate during the holiday period).
Finally, if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 over the festive period you must stay at home and book a test at gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. Your household, and Christmas bubble if you’ve formed one, must self-isolate with you until you get a result.
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