Skip to main content

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Advice and guidance for parents, carers, children and young people

This page provides important updates from Southampton City Council and NHS Solent services that have been affected, as well as useful links to social stories, Makaton signs and easy read documents about the Coronavirus.  These resources are designed to support you in understanding the virus, how to talk to children and young people about the virus, supporting children and young people and helping them understand feelings they may be experiencing during this time.

This doesn’t replace the latest information and guidance about Coronavirus in Southampton.  Follow this link to our main information page.

The government has translated the guidance for self-isolation and social distancing into the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • French
  • Mandarin
  • Cantonese
  • Polish
  • Welsh

The links are here:

Stay at home guidance

Social distancing for vulnerable people

The Educational Psychology Team have created a Transition Framework to Return to School.  Please see the PDF document in the downloads box.


Message from British Academy of Childhood Disability

There are growing concerns amongst many paediatricians that children are presenting late to paediatric emergency departments due to worries about exposure to Covid-19 or not wanting to be a drain on NHS resources. Such delay may be life threatening for the child and also potentially increases the demand for critical care.

It is important that our patients and families know that paediatric emergency departments are safe and functioning well and that if they have serious concerns about their child’s health they should contact the GP and not be afraid to use the paediatric emergency department when it is required.  

** 6th May ** Update from Stephanie Simson, Team Manager re: Jigsaw (Children with Disabilities) Team COVID-19 response

A specialist service for children and young people
with learning difficulties and disabilities
Jigsaw (SEND 0-25)
            North Block
            Civic Centre
            SO14 7LY
            Tel: 023 8091 5702

6th May 2020 

Dear Parents and Carers 

Jigsaw (Children with Disabilities) Team response to COVID-19 Update 

We hope this letter finds you and your families safe and well. 

We felt it would be helpful to write again with an update to you all, as we are moving into a new phase of trying to work out how we live and work with COVID-19 and respond to the new pieces of information that are becoming available as the situation unfolds. 

Whilst the current Government advice remains to Stay at Home wherever possible, this also requires key workers to continue to carry out essential visiting for the purposes of establishing safety and well-being and providing support.  There is a clear expectation that our statutory work and care should continue to be delivered. 

The guidance from Central Government, and our partner organisations of both Solent NHS and Southampton City Council is that we need to look at ways of working within social distancing guidelines, recognising that this is a stressful time for our Jigsaw families in particular. 

We have been looking at how best we can support you and ensure the safety of your families and children and our workers. 

Since “Lockdown”, Jigsaw has been operating on a Pod System to cover Duty, mainly from home, to ensure that we are compliant with the Government’s social distancing guidance when accessing the office.  This was put in to increase our resilience and minimise the possibility for cross-contamination within the team and, therefore, to you and your children and also to our own households.  The office is cleaned down with sterile wipes at the beginning and end of each day, and hand sanitisers and hand washing are in place.  The offices are cleaned daily.

Nobody from outside of the Duty Pod is allowed into the Jigsaw office. 

From 11th May 2020 the decision has been taken that we will start visiting some of our families again, on the following basis and for the following reasons: -

  1. Where there are concerns for the safety and well-being of the children, or families are really struggling to cope during these times.
  2. To complete new statutory social work assessments for families that are new to our service.
  3. To complete manual handling assessments, home safety assessments and emergency equipment needs assessments.

We still want to be making sure that we are not compromising your safety or the safety of our workers.  Therefore, we will not routinely be visiting any families: -

  1. Where anybody in the household is shielded.
  2. Where anybody in the household falls into the “At Risk” category as defined in the latest Public Health England guidance, which is available at
  3. Where there is anybody from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds who has a complex underlying health condition.
  4. Where there are males with underlying complex health conditions.

Before any visit is undertaken, contact will be made with you, during which we will be asking you whether anyone in the household has symptoms of COVID-19, or is self-isolating because they have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.  We will be asking you whether anybody in your household has received a shielding letter / text notification or falls into one of the above categories.

We will also want to talk to you about whether social distancing is possible during the visit.

Where this isn’t possible, our staff will be given appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to use, in accordance with Public Health England guidance.  In most cases, this will be a surgical mask, apron and gloves.  Where the visit is completed by an Occupational Therapist and will require close measuring or handling of your child, a visor will also be worn.

During the telephone call, we will talk to you about any safety concerns that you may have for your family, and whether you would like us to bring surgical masks to your home for you and members of your family to use.

There may still be times when professionals and families will make the decision to continue with a face to face appointment to those families which we would not be looking to routinely visit, but this will only be after serious consideration has been given to the potential impact of this to all involved and the conclusion reached with senior managers that this is the only means by which we can establish your child’s health, safety and well-being.  Prior to any such contact, we will be making contact with you.  We will also be maintaining social distancing as much as possible throughout the visit for our mutual protection and using Personal Protective Equipment to minimise the chances of infection.  We particularly recognise that this is an extremely worrying time, and these measures will only be taken when there has been a risk assessment completed and serious consideration given to alternatives. 

We will continue to operate a Jigsaw Duty system, which will be staffed by social workers from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Mondays to Thursdays.  On Fridays this will be available until 4:30 p.m. The contact number for this is 023 8091 5831.  Please be aware that there may be some delay in answering your call.  Messages can be left requesting call backs by e-mailing Outside of office hours, if your call is urgent, you can contact the Emergency Duty Team on 023 8023 3344.

We will do all we can to maintain as near to normal a service as possible.  However, there will still be no face to face meetings and any plans or meetings which cannot be held by a conference call will be discussed with you and other professionals, and drafts sent to you. 

Many of you have benefitted from support from our Health Team.  Our interventions from our Health Team will continue to be delivered via WhatsApp video calls or Visionable calls, at this stage in our restoration planning.

We are talking to schools and our partner organisations and providers of services, and will be giving priority to those families who we believe are in most need, and in light of what else they are receiving.

Our Disabled Facilities Grants and adaptations remain suspended.  However, we are now stepping back up Manual Handling Assessments and Home Safety Assessments at this time to help you to keep yourselves and your children safe.  We are continuing our focus on the provision of essential equipment, including for emergency hospital discharges, for the safety of all.  Clearly, these tasks will require entry to properties and close contact with children and family members.  The same risk assessments would be applied as for those with Social Workers above.  Personal Protective Equipment will be used, and you would be involved in all discussions and decision-making in this respect.

Obviously, we will continue to provide this level of service to you all the time that resources allow. And are looking to continuing to build up our services as and when we are able to.  Of course, we are continuing to closely monitor the situation and all new guidance and information that becomes available, to make sure that we are doing our utmost to keep you and your family safe and well-supported at this time. 

We will continue to inform you as soon as possible of any changes to your planned appointments and to what we are reintroducing or changing in the team.

What we hope you will do is keep us informed of your physical health and any self-isolating that will need to be factored into our delivery of services and support to you. 

Given that we are not sure what the postal system will look like moving forwards, we are continuing to do our best to keep the Southampton Information Directory updated, to include providing some materials around sharing information, supporting with handwashing and to occupy your child during this time.  We will also use this to be able to quickly update you if there is any need to change our offer, and what this will look like.  We hope to be in a position to be able to publish some alterations into how Direct Payments may be used shortly, and this will be published on the Local Offer as soon as possible.  Please do regularly check on this at

We are looking at also working out with you what has gone well over the last few weeks, and we should look to continue in the longer-term.  You may receive a telephone call from one of the Assistant Team Managers in the Team to talk to you about your experiences, what has gone well, and what hasn’t gone so well.  If you don’t receive a phone call, but would like to provide feedback, please contact your social worker and ask for this to be sent to you via e-mail, and return it to us at

If you have any helpful suggestions, or discover any resources that you think other families would benefit from, please would you send them in to the e-mail, and we will have them uploaded onto the Southampton Information Directory.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or queries, please can you contact your child’s Social Worker, Nurse or Occupational Therapist directly.  We will try and collate these into a Frequently Asked Questions section and put them onto the Southampton Information Directory, as there are bound to be others that will benefit.

We thank you for your partnership, understanding and patience during this unprecedented time and my apologies in advance for any disruption or uncertainty that you may experience in the delivery of your care.  We will be doing our very best to keep communication clear and accessible.

Yours sincerely

Stephanie Simpson

Team Manager

Jigsaw (Children with Disabilities) Team

** 12th May ** Update from Tammy Marks, Service Manager SEND re: easements in relation to COVID-19 and EHCP Assessments

12th May 2020

Dear Parents and Carers 

Education Health and Care Assessment and Plan “Easements”

I am writing to give you an update following the “easements” that the government has made, from the 1st May 2020, to two specific areas of the law relating to EHC Assessments and Plans:

  1. 1.     Section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 relates to the duty to secure special educational provision and health care provision in accordance with EHC plans: the duty on LAs or commissioning health bodies to secure or arrange the provision is temporarily modified to a duty to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to do so. 

As you can imagine, currently with so few children (and staff) in education settings, it has been impossible for us to deliver provision in EHC Plans in the traditional way. We’ve had to prioritise children who should and need to be in school and settings have been working very creatively to deliver remote learning support for those who aren’t.

In response to this amendment in the law, we have developed a template that we are asking all education settings to complete. This assesses the risk of provision not being in place and whether without the provision specified in EHC Plans, this is likely to present a risk to a child or young person’s health, wellbeing or safety.

We have combined this with an overall risk assessment of the full needs of pupils with EHC Plans so that we have a consistent approach across all education settings and in our decision making processes. The government issued guidance on carrying out risk assessments for pupils with EHC Plans and we have used this guidance to develop our template. You can find this guidance at

We know that education settings have all carried out their own risk assessments as they have been sending us relevant data that we have required. This means that settings will already have much of the detail being requested, but they may need to ask you for some further information. One of the questions you’re likely to be asked is whether you, your child or anyone in your household has had a “shielding letter” and if so, whether this identifies whether the person the letter referred to is “clinically vulnerable” or “extremely clinically vulnerable”. It is important that we receive this information so that we are able to make sound and safe judgements as to whether a child/young person should be attending an education setting.

We have made clear to settings that parents and carers (and children and young people where they are willing and able) must be consulted on this assessment in all cases. It is crucial that we have your views at the centre of this.

The assessment will act as a recommendation from the setting and as a local authority we will either agree or disagree as to whether the offer of provision in place is reasonable. In some cases we may need to contact you directly for further detail. We will need to work creatively with settings and health providers to come up with ways of offering support differently in some cases.

If you are unhappy with the settings assessment you should discuss this with them in the first instance and where this is not resolved you can email the SEND Service directly -

  1. 2.     The SEND (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 amend the SEN Regulations that specify timescales that relate to EHC needs assessments and plans. Where it is not reasonably practicable, or is impractical, to meet that time limit for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus, the specific time limit will not apply, however the process must be completed as soon as reasonably practicable.

This relates to the timescales for agreeing applications for assessments (6 weeks), the timescales for assessments (20 weeks from the date we receive the application) and the timescales for annual reviews.

I want to reassure you that currently we feel that there will be limited impact on our ability to agree assessments and the assessment timescales themselves.

New assessments: We have worked extremely hard to get these timescales to 100% and have achieved this for 8 months running now. We know how important these timescales are to families as this is often at the end of what feels like a long and drawn out battle. We therefore will not be taking our foot off the pedal on this one. So far we have been able to maintain this completion rate and we have challenged ourselves to continue to do so. There may be some inevitable delays in a minority of cases but we’ll make sure we keep families updated where this is the case and in all cases we will complete assessments as quickly as possible.

Annual Reviews: All annual reviews should be carried out within the timescales already set. Most of these are currently being held remotely and very creatively. We know it’s a challenge for some parents/carers to have calls/video calls with their child/young person at home so if it’s easier you can do things via email. However don’t worry if there’s children and pets in the background of calls – you might find it’s the same for SENCO’s and SEN Officers as most people are having to work from home.

We expect any late annual reviews to be the exception and not the rule.

Other bits and bobs:

I imagine there are lots of questions relating to Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday night. We’re in the process of developing an easy read info sheet for you so keep an eye out for that. I’ll also be doing a Facebook Live with Claire Pritchard on the Southampton Parent Carer Forum Facebook page on Wednesday 13th May at 7pm. If you can’t catch it live the videos are saved to the wall so you can go back and watch it when it’s convenient for you.

Finally, thank you for your continued support and patience whilst we do our best to navigate this challenge. We really recognise that families of children and young people with SEND will be feeling the impact of these restrictions and the change that this is bringing, really acutely. We genuinely welcome your feedback and involvement and feel very fortunate that we have such a strong and well regarded parent carer forum who can champion for and represent the parent voice.


Stay safe.


Tammy Marks

Service Manager – Special Educational Needs and Disability

Southampton City Council

Frequently asked questions of parents of children with SEND and EHC Plans

COVID-19 – Frequently asked questions of parents of children with SEND and EHC Plans.


Version 1 – 19th March 2020


NOTE: All responses below are subject to change as and when we receive definitive direction from the Department for Education.


Links to Government guidelines for parent carers:

What happens to families that have children with EHCP’s but are not comfortable sending their children to school as more at risk (complex health/medical conditions) or due to school environment being so drastically different that kids will not cope? Can parents choose not to send kids to school and not be penalised? 

We do not expect parents to send their child to school if they are not comfortable doing so. There will be no penalty for this. We just request that you keep an open line of communication with your child’s school. 

It’s important that you appreciate that schools are going to have a very complex challenge in coordinating staffing ratios for the pupils that will be in school, so there should be no sudden expectation, if you change your mind that your child should be in school the next day. Each school will make decisions about the capacity of their staff and will be expected to accommodate groups in priority order, starting with children of key workers and children in need of protection. 

NOTE: For children in need of protection (on a CP plan) we will be working closely with social workers to encourage the take up of the offer of suitable provision at your child’s school, in line with child protection planning. 

Many staff at SEN schools have kids with no additional needs or EHCP’s but will have to stay at home to look after their kids etc. so again staffing of the SEN provisions will not be workable in a lot of cases?

We are still waiting to hear the official government definition of ‘key worker’, but we have asked schools in Southampton to consider staff working in schools as key workers themselves, to enable their children to be in schools so that they can go to work. 

Is the definition of vulnerable kids, the ones that are open to social care etc? If so, on what basis, on a child in need plan, in care, child protection plans etc?

We’ve asked schools to offer provision, where they are able, in priority groups. Those in bold must at least receive an offer. The others should receive an offer, if the school has capacity to do so: 

  • Children in need of protection - Child Protection Plan
  • Children Looked After - in care
  • Children in Need where there are concerns about parental capacity
  • Children they are concerned are in need of protection but for whom has not yet met threshold
  • Children in need - where parents are assessed to need breaks from their caring at the substantial and complex level (Jigsaw and core social work teams)
  • Any other group a school agrees at the discretion of the Head Teacher

Will school lunches carry on as normal, will canteens be open or parents to send packed lunch etc?

For those attending, school lunches in canteens should be available. This is subject to change, dependent on supplies. Check with your individual school if you’re unsure. 

What if family are in low income bracket and don’t have a laptop/pc to use or simply can’t afford one? Will loans of laptops etc be available?

This will be down to the discretion of the individual school, based on the resources they have available to them. 

What happens with transition processes, to secondary school/college etc.?

Good question. There are many unknowns at the moment but me and other senior education managers are meeting with head teacher reps on a weekly basis and will issue more detail on this in the coming weeks/months. 

If families are planning to apply for an EHCP, has the EHCP application process been put on hold and postponed for the foreseeable?

Yes – we’ve paused the receipt of new applications until further notice. We are awaiting guidance from the Department of Education on how we should proceed with any future applications and will update when we have this detail. 

Home to school transport for SEN kids – will this still be available and how will this work as a number of escorts are older etc and staffing will be lower (due to illness, social distancing/protecting themselves, self-isolation) etc? If home to school transport is not available, can parents decide not to send them as many will not have means of getting kids to school etc.?

This will be a changing picture as per all other key groups of staff. I’ve spoken with the home to school transport Service Manager today and as of tomorrow, they’re struggling to meet the demand. This should reduce on Monday, with less kids expected to be in school, but we’ll be reviewing this daily. In some cases, we may need to ask parents to transport their children if they are able or give the option for the child to stay home. We’ll minimise disruption as much as we can, but we need to prepare parents that there likely will be last minute changes on this front. 

If we choose to send our kids to school as there is provision available (EHCP families), will we still receive theH2ST personal travel petrol budget?

Yes, if you’re doing the transporting. 

Assume independent schools are included in this and how will the government make sure they support parents through this?

We’re still gathering what information we can from independent schools. Please for now contact the lead at those schools. We’ll issue more on this in the coming days. 

Will a helpline be set up for parental guidance/support around school closures?

No, we’re finding it hard to keep our standard call centres open as it already stands. We just don’t have the workforce for this. All schools are responsible for communicating with parents’ updates on their own circumstances and are asked to share that with the LA so that we can field questions from parents. 

I will be in daily contact with Claire and commit to doing some Facebook live question and answer sessions (once I’ve managed some sleep!). I’ll do regular briefings and will keep adding to the frequently asked questions. 

SEN Children that have siblings (that aren’t attending school) will not understand that they still have to go? Can parental choice not to send them, be made in this situation with no repercussions etc?

Yes – we understand this and if parents think this is what is best, we will support that. Just make sure you communicate with your child’s school! 

In a lot of cases (particularly SEMH and ASD) and if kids are off school, school is school, and home is home – will kids/families be penalised if they can’t feasibly get kids to complete homework?

No. We will share as many resources with schools to share with you as possible on top of what schools will already be sharing and sending home. But each child is different. 

My advice both as the SEND Service Manager and as a parent of children with ASC would be STRUCTURE! 

I’ll be planning my sons weekly timetable with them so that they can have ownership of it (making them more likely to cooperate, I hope!), but it will include learning material from school, downtime, electronics time, active time, creative time (although there will be no glue and pasta!) and I’ll aim to stick to that as much as possible. Ultimately, at some point, our children will need to return to school and if it’s a long time from now, it will be a shock to their system. The more you can replicate some form of a school pattern, the better your child will cope in the long term. 

Top tip: The Body Coach is doing a live PE session that children can do from their front room via his YouTube channel every morning at 9am – I really recommend this! 

Will schools confirm via letter/email how parents obtain support for homework and day to day of home schooling etc?

You should expect to receive regular communications from your child’s individual school through whichever means they can communicate the most effectively! 

Does this apply to early years and post 16 settings? 

The principles and priority groups are the same, however, I’m hoping to speak to key colleagues representing these areas tomorrow to gain further clarification and give detail where this might vary from the school approach. Our turnaround on this has been very short so please do bear with us.

** 9th May ** Update from Chantal Homan, Service and Quality Manager, CAMHS West

CAMHS West Team
Child and Family Services
2nd Floor Adelaide Health Centre
Western Community Hospital Site
William Macleod Way
SO16 4XE
Tel: 0300 123 6661
9th May 2020

Dear Parents / Carers and Colleagues

Re:      CAMHS West COVID-19 Update

I last wrote to you on the 07 April 2020 highlighting some key changes to the Specialist CAMH Service as part of the response to COVID-19. 

This resulted in the temporary stoppage of some of our groups and drops in as well as a restriction on face to face contacts. We also closed to routine referrals for a period of time.

You will be aware that many of the restrictions due to COVID-19 are likely to remain in place for some time.  We are planning for this in the service on a very regular basis and I am writing to you again today to highlight some of the further changes, which include the re instating of some services, albeit with a different delivery method.

As some of you may know we are offering alternatives to face to face contact with the introduction of appointments via Visionable (an online video consultation program), WhatsApp and telephone consultation.  The service is also delivering a community pathway for the delivery of urgent assessments (within 24 hours) of young people who may have previously been directed to Southampton General Hospital.  This is an extension of our current service and is being provided 7 days a week.  Now that we know that restrictions are likely to continue for some time we have made plans on how we can work differently in order to re-start some of the services that have been postponed and increase our level of face to face appointments. We will continue to gather your feedback and these measures will be regularly reviewed to ensure we are providing the most accessible and highest quality care possible during this difficult time.

The following changes to the service will be implemented:

The majority of appointments for initial assessments will return to being offered as face to face appointments.  We are keen to develop strong relationships with young people and their families who require our service and recognise that there is a small risk this is compromised by our first meeting being through a digital platform.  Whilst still needing to accommodate the need for large rooms to maintain social distancing and self-isolation as it arises it is not yet possible to offer every assessment as a face to face one.  Where it is not possible we will get in touch with you to arrange an alternative way of carrying out the appointment.

All first appointments with a psychiatrist in our team will be face to face.  New appointments with Psychiatrists in our team can be for a number of reasons but the most common reasons are for consideration of the use of medication or more detailed assessment of a young person’s mental health.  Both of which reasons are able to be more easily facilitated in a face to face appointment.

Unless there are specific risks follow up appointments and reviews will be via Visionable or telephone.  This is to enable the service to make best use of the larger clinical rooms we have available so that appointments which are needing to be conducted via face to face can be done in accordance with the right social distancing measures and also to ensure that we are doing our part within the wider NHS efforts to ensure that face to face contact is minimised.

As of the 11th May 2020 the service will re-open to referrals for anxiety and depression that meet our service criteria.  The service will continue to work to a 7 day provision to support the interim UHS pathway and for this reason we are staging our restoration of referral acceptance to enable us to safely manage the additional requirements of the service at this time.  If you are unsure if a referral is appropriate during this period then colleagues from our triage team will still be available to discuss these.  They can be contacted on the CAMHS West direct dial number 023 8103 0061 or through the main reception on 0300 123 6661. 

In the summer term we will be offering virtual workshops via the video platform ZOOM for parents, carers and young people accessing our service.  We will be offering them on the following topics:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional Dysregulation and Self-harm
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Managing Trauma

Also in the summer term we will be starting our therapeutic group program for parents/carers and young people via the video platform ZOOM.  We will be staggering the introduction of these to make best use of our clinical capacity in the team.  The groups that we are currently planning to include are:

  • Cool Kids and Coping Cats for Anxiety
  • New Forest Parenting Program for ADHD
  • PACE (for support with trauma)


Appointments and Groups via Video Platforms

These appointments are a replacement for attending sessions within the clinic at this time. In the same way as you would with a clinic appointment we will need to be able to speak with and see the young person in these appointments. Please ensure that you are able to fully participate.  If you foresee some difficulties in doing so then please let us know.  We will assist where we can.

We have had instances where the young person has not been available for their appointment at the time arranged.  This has meant that we have not been able to provide the support and intervention that would be most effective. In these difficult times we are keen to maintain our therapeutic relationships with young people and their families. 

What we need from you is your assistance to make every contact count; there are a few ways in which you can help us with this.

  • Support your son or daughter to prioritise their CAMHS appointments and work them into the plan for their day so they are not out for their walk or engaged in other activities at the time of the appointment.
  • Ensure that where possible you are in a quiet environment where you are less likely to be disturbed. For safeguarding reasons we ask that appointments are not carried out in people’s bedrooms.
  • We respectfully ask that you do not record your sessions without prior agreement. Unauthorised recording of sessions is a criminal offence.


Contacting Us

To assist us in making the best decisions about our service delivery we ask that you keep us informed of any urgent changes in your child/young person’s mental health so that we can assess accordingly with you.  Such examples may include increasing risk of harm to self or others, a reporting of any unusual symptoms such as reporting being able to hear or see things that others can’t and/or a change in eating habits with food intake being restricted coupled with weight loss and/or excessive exercise.

Please may I take this opportunity to remind you of our direct dial number, 023 8103 0061, and our team email address, We anticpate that sickness and absence from work will impact upon our avaialabiity to answer calls and respond to emails but we will endeaviour to do so in as timely as fashion as possible.

We thank you again for your partnership, understanding and patience during this unprecedented time.  My apologies in advance for any disruption or uncertainty that you may experience in the delivery of your care during this time.  We will be doing our upmost to keep communication clear and unambiguous.  We are working closely with Re:Minds ( to communicate with families and find ways of making our service more accessible and available for question and answer sessions. 

Yours sincerely

Chantal Homan

Service and Quality Manager



Closure of Child Health Clinics during Coronavirus Outbreak

Solent NHS Trust and Southampton City Council are working closely to meet Government guidance during the Coronavirus outbreak. Please be advised that as from Monday 23rd March all Family Points and Child Health Clinics will be stopped until further notice.

We appreciate that families will still need advice during this time and have the following options available:

  • Health visiting in Southampton operates a ‘Duty’ system where a member of the team is available to offer advice, Monday – Friday, 9.00 – 4.30. Please phone  0300 123 6661 and ask to speak to the duty health visitor
  • Solent Pulse, our text messaging service, where you can leave a text query, this will be answered on the same or next day. Text 07491163277
  • Wessex Healthier Together website for a range of health advice -


If your child does need to be seen for a specific health or weight issue your health visiting team will be able to offer an assessment by phone to determine whether you will need a face to face  bookable appointment in a local children’s centre.


We thank you for your understanding at this challenging time.

Guidance, helplines & support

National Autistic Society – guidance and helpline for parents’, young people and staff

Carers UK - Guidance for carers 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) support

Type of Help

Who is this for?

What support is offered?

Community Support Hub

Vulnerable groups, in critical need and have no other means of support

  • Emergency food

Resident helpline

023 8083 4800

(open Mon-Fri, 8:30am to 5pm)

Vulnerable groups, in critical need and have no other means of support

  • Emergency food requests
  • Social contact
  • Signposting to voluntary groups
  • Help with issues such as finances

Online form

Vulnerable groups, in critical need and have no other means of support

  • Requests for help

Pharmacy deliveries

023 8071 8668

(in partnership with NHS Southampton City CCG & Saints Foundation)


  • Collection and delivery of medications

Websites –

All residents and businesses

Hub of information on our services and coronavirus advice

Business helpline

023 8083 4300

(open Mon-Fri, 8:30am to 5pm)

All businesses

Business support and advice

Support from partners

Citizens Advice Bureaux 
023 8022 3659
Offering advice on a wide range of topics such as finances, universal credit, employment and immigration.
Southampton Voluntary Services   
Online directory of help available in local communities.
Churches working together to support the vulnerable and local food banks.
PIPPA helpline 
023 8091 7917
Working to end domestic and sexual violence.

Looking after yourself and others

Get moving

Exercise is important for keeping our body and mind well. Think about what you can do to move more inside. For suggestions on getting active when staying at home you can visit

Keep your mind active

You can keep your mind active by setting yourself goals for the day – whether it’s finishing a puzzle, texting a friend, or tidying your sock drawer, nothing is too small and completing things will give you a sense of achievement. 

Look after your wellbeing

It’s normal to feel a bit anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely or frustrated about the current situation. Remember - it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too.

Solent Mind helpline

For anyone who is experiencing poor mental health or wellbeing challenges as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. 023 8017 9049 - Mon – Fri, 10am – 2pm (except bank holidays)

Do also contact your GP. Practices are still providing remote consultations via telephone or e-consult and face to face consultations can be arranged in a safe way if needed.

Solent Mind text line

For those in a mental health crisis or emotional distress. You can text ‘LIGHTHOUSE’ and your postcode to 07451 276010 - 4.30pm and 12am. Staff will then contact you via telephone, email, webchat or text.

Samaritans confidential support line

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts you can call 116 123 24 hours a day.


Avoiding COVID-19 scams

Unfortunately, during these difficult times there are many COVID-19 scams circulating, targeting the most vulnerable in our communities. Be aware these scams will try to con you out of money. They may be received by post, email, telephone, text or face to face.

Before you respond to any offer, please remember the Take Five protection advice

Stop: Don’t be pressurised into sending off money immediately to someone you don’t even know.

Think: How likely is it that I’ve specially been chosen? Millions of people have probably received the same offer.

Think again: Always read the offer carefully. Speak to family or friends or seek advice.

If you’re unsure whether something might be a scam, call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133. You can report scams to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.

Talking to your child and answering their questions

Easy read documents and social stories

Mencap - Easy Read guide to Coronavirus 

Public Health England have produced an easy read version of their Advice on the coronavirus for places of education.  You can download it here

Makaton hygiene symbols

A free resource from Photosymbols, including easy read posters and information


Activity ideas to do with children and young people whilst home from school

  • Frozen toys
    “You’ll need to prepare this activity a day or two ahead. Find a large plastic box that will fit in your freezer, quarter fill it with water, put some toys in and freeze. Add three more layers (for a longer activity), and then turn out your ice block. The children then have to get the toys out of the ice, using a selection of tools (e.g. spray bottles with warm water in, toy hammers etc).”
  • Water play – include ladles or slotted spoons to scoop things out and place in bowls, or to move from one tray to another.  You could use sticks/leaves that they’ve collected from the garden/forest, or some of their favourite toys
  • YouTube song session
    Similar to what they may do in school, search for children sing along songs on YouTube, do this as an activity together, it’s a good time filling activity before lunch etc.
  • Try Coin Rubbing:
    “A timeless classic that even adults can get involved with. Simply gather up a few different coins, place a sheet of paper over the top and use mixed crayons to ‘rub’ a colourful pattern into the paper.”
  • Boost Your Brain with a Smelling Game:
    Fill a selection of small containers (old, painted, jam jars work best) with a mix of fragrant ingredients such as lavender, coffee or soap. Place a seal over the top using a piece of fabric and a rubber band and then ask your child to identify the different smells. If you don’t have jars, just use what you have (plates, cups, dab onto paper).
  • Glittery Calm Down Bottles – “Be careful when you work with glitter! Aren’t these so fun and pretty though?? I think my nephews would be fascinated by these.”– Don’t have to use glitter. You can use buttons etc. If you don’t have a glue gun use whatever glue you have and tape around the lid so it can’t be undone.
  • Home-made sand – apparently mess free!!
  • Bake
  • Play with bubble wrap
  • Make a fort with blankets, sheets and pillows
  • Have a little tea party, don’t forget to invite some toys / dolls / teddies
  • Have a dance party
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Reading time with blankets and cuddles.
  • Play with different fabrics (soft, rough, fluffy etc). Can use things like scarfs, tea towels, t-shirts, jeans.
  • Explore the garden. What can you see? Different types of leaves, flowers etc.
  • Physical activity - YouTube has some great children’s dance/exercise videos.  Ask your children to move like different animals – be creative!
  • Draw pictures or write letters to send to loved ones or friends – become pen pals with your neighbours
  • Measure things around the house for example, how many footsteps to cross the kitchen?  Include guess work and then measuring
  • Form a band, make “junk” musical instruments and perform your favourite songs together
  • Read together
  • Practice yoga or mindfulness – especially great for starting the day, or those moments when the band got a little too loud!
  • Facetime or call loved ones/friends and tell them all about the different activities that you have been doing and show off some of your best dance moves, favourite drawing, read to them etc.
  • Messy play – cornflour and (cold/cool) water makes gloop, cold left-over spaghetti
  • Simple science experiments with household objects, this link has over 60 different experiments (and a guide with 100’s of different activities and resources to support you)

**2nd September 2020** Letter from Minister Vicky Ford to children and young people with SEND, their families and carers, and those who work to support them

**September 2020** Coronavirus (Covid-19) Latest advice and guidance

** Shielded Patient Lists and School Attendance - Update 5th November 2020 **


Shielded Patient Lists and School Attendance

Update: 5th November, 2020

 General advice and information:

School attendance has been mandatory again from September 2020 and the usual rules on school attendance apply. This also sees parents resume their duty to secure their children’s regular attendance at their school/educational setting. In addition schools will have a responsibility to record attendance and follow up any absence as before and also the ability to request the Local Authority issue any sanctions, for parents/carers failing to send children to school.


We appreciate that this will be a struggle for some parents, children, families but it is important you contact your school to discuss your current concerns. If there are any medical professionals involved with your family who have advised or offered further support and guidance regarding your situation it is important you discuss this with the school. There are some circumstances where pupils cannot attend school due to circumstances related to coronavirus and these are very specific and as the Secretary of State outlines ‘no parent will be penalised for following official public health advice’. Therefore, it is important that you talk to the school about your concerns and the best re-engagement plan for your children in line with any health conditions. The Southampton Education Welfare Service works closely with schools on improving school attendance and is here to help, support and work together to reassure, ascertain the appropriate support and best way forward to re-engage children and young people with their education and their future opportunities.


My child has medical/health condition, do they need to attend school during lockdown?

Yes, the Government is clear in its current guidance. All pupils and students should continue to attend education settings at all local COVID alert levels unless they are one of the very small number of pupils or students under paediatric or other specialist care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend an education setting. These are the children and young people included either on the Shielded Patient List or considered Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV).


How do I know if that applies to my child? Is my child on the list?

The Government are frequently updating the shielding and clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) list. If your child is on the list, you will receive a new written notification. You must keep this notification safe and provide it to your child’s school as they will keep a copy to support their attendance information. Your child’s specialist or GP should be able to confirm for you if you are in any doubt.


What if my child is clinically extremely vulnerable and I haven’t received a letter?

More evidence has emerged that shows there is a very low risk of children becoming very unwell from COVID-19, even for children with existing health conditions. Most children originally identified as clinically extremely vulnerable no longer need to follow this advice. Speak to your GP or specialist clinician, if you have not already done so, to understand whether your child should still be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.



My child was on the shielded list, are they still on or not?

Over the summer, all children on the Shielded Patient Lists should have been reviewed by their clinicians, to discuss whether they are still considered to be CEV before their return to school after the summer break. If this has not happened or you are still unsure, contact your GP or specialist team as soon as possible.


I don’t think my child should be on the list anymore. What should I do?

Patients can only be removed from the shielding patient list by their GP or specialist,

following discussion/consultation with the child and their family, and other clinicians where

appropriate. If a child is no longer clinically extremely vulnerable, clinicians should discuss with children and their families/carers their removal from the shielding list.


Where can I find out whether my child’s condition means they are vulnerable or CEV?

The up to date information can be accessed online here: 


I have the notification letter for my child, what happens now?

Those children whose doctors have confirmed they are still (or now) clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend school while this advice is in place. The expectation upon schools is that they will make appropriate arrangements for you to be able to continue your child’s education at home. This may be in the form of learning packs sent home, online or virtual learning, or a combination of activities.


I have a child who is shielding/CEV, does their sibling need to attend school during lockdown?

Yes and again, the current government guidance is clear. Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend school.

Be sure to clarify any concerns you may have with your GP or specialist clinician as soon as possible.


I am shielding, do I need to send my child to school?

Yes and again, the current government guidance is clear. Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend school.

Be sure to clarify any concerns you may have with your GP or specialist clinician as soon as possible.


I don’t have a letter and I’m not going to send my child to school, what will the school do?

If you are waiting on notification or evidence from Doctors or clinicians you must talk to your child’s school. Contact the school and discuss your child’s case as soon as possible.

If your child is not eligible for a notification letter from the NHS, you must send your child to school. The current government guidance is clear, they must attend their school.


Will I be fined or prosecuted for my child’s non-attendance?

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 places a duty upon parents of a child of compulsory school age to cause that child to receive efficient full-time education. Given the Prime Minister’s announcement, regarding schools, colleges and universities and protecting people more at risk from coronavirus, there is a continued expectation that children and young people should still attend school.


If you have a notification letter that instructs your child to shield, you don’t need to do anything further. School will mark the register accordingly and they should have plans in place for your child to engage in their education from home.


If you don’t have any formal notification to shield and if there is no public health reason to authorise the absence, the school will contact you in the first instance to follow up any reasons for absence. Depending on the outcome, the school may request a penalty notice for issue from the local authority. This is at the Head Teacher’s discretion. Alternatively, a referral to the Education Welfare Service may be made to investigate the reasons for absence further. These will be dealt with on a case by case basis by the service in partnership with parents/carers, schools and the local authority.


Is there a local (Southampton) NHS response regarding the Government’s advice?

“Any child who returned to school before the summer holidays (i.e. before shielding officially ended) is definitely OK to continue attending school now.

The RCPCH have regularly updated their guidance, and there are now very few children who would still be considered clinically extremely vulnerable in our schools. The RCPCH Guidance can be found here: . Some may consider themselves to be in Group B of these guidelines and they should discuss with their own GP or specialist team, but my understanding that is even if they ARE in group B, we would still be recommending they attend school, with all the current measures in place.”


Dr Nick Le Prevost, Consultant Paediatrician: Community Child Health, Clinical Lead for CPMS (Solent West), Lead for Children with Complex Health Needs.


Share your feedback on this page ∇

Please provide feedback on our website. Try to include any constructive suggestions for improvements and we will do our best to incorporate them.

Back to top