Information Now

19 May InfoNOW News Corona 9


Information for people with sight loss
Mental Health Awareness Week
Greener Newcastle
Domestic abuse

Reports and action

Care Home Connectivity
Support for families
CNTW NHS Foundation Trust service users survey
Socially distanced choir looking for volunteers – act now.


What’s on online
Funding opportunities



Richard Finch from Radio Tyneside interviews Kate at InformationNOW (now a podcast) about last week’s InfoNOW news: coping with sleep, living with a long term condition during the coronavirus and the digital chain story.


Azure charitable enterprises
Stop Smoking service for Newcastle
Equality Advisory Support Service
Emergency SMS service
West End Women and Girls
Food banks and free emergency food
While you are in hospital

Information for people with any form of sight loss

It is a difficult time for people with sight loss, visual impairment or who are blind.  There are organisations that can help you during the coronavirus pandemic.

RNIB helpline has extended hours during the coronavirus: 0303 123 9999  weekdays 8 am to 8 pm and Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm

Guide dogs for the Bind has a coronavirus information line:0800 781 1444, weekdays 9 am to 5 pm.  They also have this email for children with sight loss: for information on assistive technology or family support.

Glaucoma helpline: 01233 64 81 70 from Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 5 pm

Macular Society: 0300 3030 111

Need help with shopping, prescriptions and other essential items? Contact:
CityLife line: 0191 2778000
NHS Volunteer Responders programme: 0808 196 3646

Eye health
Please don’t ignore your eye symptoms.  Get in touch with your optician, eye doctor or clinic to get help if anything changes or worsens. Clinics have been adjusted to make sure that you are at minimised risk.

Do you wear glasses or contact lenses?

  • It’s best to stick to soap and water when washing your hands to administer eye drops or handle contact lenses, rather than using hand sanitiser.
  • Anti-bacterial hand sanitiser will help to rid your glasses of potentially harmful surface particles, but do avoid contact with the lenses because some ingredients may affect the quality of the lens’ surface. It’s also likely to smear or leave streaks on your lenses unless properly rinsed and dried.
  • Anti-bacterial hand sanitisers are likely to contain alcohol, so it’s important to avoid contact with the eyes as it may cause irritation. To help avoid this, use a glasses cleaning liquid or a diluted pH neutral hand wash.  Read our article on sight loss and visual impairments and opticians

Mental and physical health

It’s really important to get some exercise during the coronavirus pandemic.  You may feel more anxious about going out, but your cane should help people be aware that they need to give you space and also ensure that you don’t get too close.  Now that you can go out with one person (from a different household) who can keep their distance from you, maybe they can help you get out and warn people/you if you are in danger of getting too close. If you have a guide dog, you will probably be getting exercise every day and you should continue to do so.

During this time, it’s especially important you stay connected with the outside world; whether it’s having Skype calls with family and friends, joining a Talk and Support group through the RNIB Helpline or signing up to a Keeping in Touch call with Guide Dogs. There are many sight loss forums available and most are open to your family and friends too.  Here are a few contacts on Facebook:

Mental Health Awareness week, 18 to 24 May 2020

Looking after ourselves has never been more important than right now. The ‘new normal’ has changed the way we live, the way we work. We’re missing family, friends and colleagues. We’re using words like Covid-19, lockdown and social distancing at a time when we all need comfort the most.Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 is kindness and looking out for each other. There is support for people who are finding life a struggle and who need to talk. Our mental health article has information and organisations that you can contact.

Small changes can make a big difference to you or someone you know or meet:

  • volunteering
  • support a cause
  • lending, sharing and contacting others are important acts of kindness

The RISE team works with young people in schools across Newcastle and Gateshead to help support their emotional and mental wellbeing. Rise/Wellness for All has launched two courses this week, one for staff and early years and one for parents and children.  You can take these course for free.

Samaritans has launched a new app to track your mood and give you coping strategies.

Newcastle Meditation Centre has increased its meditation sessions this week.  Sign up on Facebook.  They also need help to stay open, so support them through their Just Giving page.

Mind Tyneside and Northumberland 7 days in May mental health challenge

The ITV Britain Get Talking campaign has had great results.  Why don’t you:

  • get in touch with someone that you’ve lost touch with – old boyfriend/girlfriend?
  • speak to family members that aren’t your parents or kids
  • play phone contact roulette – spinning through your contacts to choose someone to call at random

Greener Newcastle

Plans are being drawn up to help ensure people who need to make essential journeys in Newcastle can do so safely and with assurances on social distancing. Newcastle City Council is looking at how citywide transport networks can be changed to enable people to travel easily, while maintaining social distance and to meet the increasing demand for space to walk and cycle.

New measures and road layouts, starting in the city centre, will be introduced quickly – in some cases from as early as this week – to meet the short-term need to get the city moving in a safe way as coronavirus restrictions start to ease. Newcastle City Council will also be looking at how these short-term changes could help deliver longer term ambitions for a cleaner and greener transport network that encourages and supports more active travel and a reduction in car journeys.

Latest scams

Northumbria Police have alerted us to two new scams:

  • new phishing email offering Bitcoin investments
  • new phishing email claiming to be from A-Z Pharmaceuticals

Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy organisation or agency in an electronic communication.

Keep up to date with our scams and fraud article.

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse – recognising signs and who can help

Channel 5 aired a programme last week about how to leave an abusive partner safely in lockdown,

Children North East has launched a domestic abuse helpline: 0191 256 2440 or text FAMILY to 07984 388 130.

Northumbria Police officers are working with  Boots and the UK Says No More campaign to support victims of domestic abuse during lockdown.  Safe spaces have been installed in Boots consultation rooms in Newcastle and across the country to allow people to access vital support.  There is a similar option at Superdrug on Northumberland Street.

To access support, those in need can ask for help at the counter and will be referred to use a safe consultation room, where they will have access to 24-hour national domestic abuse helplines and can also contact police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Reports and action

Care home connectivity

As they respond to COVID-19, care providers are using digital technology to protect the health and wellbeing of vulnerable residents. Technology is enabling video consultations with health professionals, ordering of prescriptions, as well as supporting residents to talk with family and friends.
To further support the technology, NHSX and NHS Digital have negotiated a range of internet connection offers with telecom companies, details of which are available on the NHSX website.

Support for families

This is a difficult time for families and children. Here are some links to help you:

Updated information on co-parenting for families where a child does not live with both parents.

Family action offer Care leavers listening works

Action for Children has helplines for parents and for children.

Service users experience survey

CNTW NHS Foundation Trust would like you to take part in a survey to capture and respond to patient experience during the pandemic, and ensure they continue to provide the best care they can.

Additional support is available from Involvement Facilitators who are able to complete the survey on behalf of any service user wishing to contact them by telephone during office hours or by email to request a call back:

Email  Newcastle and Gateshead tel: 07866 133 240

Northumbria Police

Last weekend saw a 34% increase in cars on the road.  There is a national campaign using mobile speed cameras and unmarked police cars.  Please take care and drive safely within the speed restrictions as more people return to work.

360 motorists were caught driving as fast at 87mph near the Metrocentre, 64 on Felling bypass.

Socially distanced choir looking for volunteers

An opportunity to thank the NHS and care staff by singing a newly adapted version of The Blaydon Races as part of an online socially distanced choir has arisen.

The words of the great Geordie Anthem have been rewritten, with music provided by Hotspur School. Those taking part will be asked to film themselves on a phone or laptop singing the new words to a provided backing track.  They then send in their recording by email so they can be edited together to form the choir. If you want to take part, you will have to commit some time before next Monday 25th May to practice and to record yourself singing.

You will receive the lyrics and backing track to listen to through earphones and you’ll record yourself singing along to it. The Trust will give you detailed instructions and lots of support.  If you are interested in singing, please send your details ASAP to You will need to provide a contact phone number and email so the Trust can easily contact you.

What’s on online

All our theatre and art organisations are struggling with closure. They are streaming their shows and collections but please consider making a donation if you can.

The National Theatre at Home programme has been extended for another 4 weeks. The next 2 shows are as follows:
week commencing 14th May – Barber Shop Chronicles
week commencing 21st May – A Street Car named Desire

Love in Isolation at the Globe Theatre.  A choice of free Shakespeare plays including Romeo & Juliet and As You Like It. Coming soon, Macbeth.  Ideal for GCSE and A level students who are studying English.

Art Online
If you are missing your visits to the local galleries then take a look at their latest offerings here.
Baltic art (including family activities)
Side Talks 
Laing Art Gallery (including family activities)

See our Quick Links to virtual activity online.

Funding opportunities

Tackle loneliness deadline 29th May

The Government is launching this funding plan now to help ensure no one needs to feel lonely in the weeks ahead. It will help everyone understand the role they can play in looking after each other, and empower  expert charities and volunteers to reach more vulnerable people.  The plan will aim to ensure that, for people of all ages and backgrounds, staying at home does not need to lead to loneliness.   As part of this plan, national organisations working to tackle loneliness and build social connections are invited to apply for a share of £5 million of funding.  Check the criteria and eligibility information.

£275,000 available to the Voluntary Sector working in Criminal Justice

Voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system with under £500,000 annual income can apply now for grant funding to support their vital work during Covid-19.

Last updated: July 23, 2020

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