COVID-19: Community Help Network



The community response to the recent Coronavirus (COVID19) outbreak has been inspiring. The council is now working with established community groups and volunteers to enhance and coordinate support for those in need.

Here you'll find help and support available within the community.

For those able, there are also a number of different ways to help those in need:

Please note that this service is only for eligible residents who do not have access to anyone else to help them. If you are currently supporting someone in your local area, please continue to do so. This is so we can ensure that we can continue to support those most in need throughout the COVID-19 crisis. 

What is the helpline service?

The helpline can provide eligible residents with things such as support to access food, prescription collections, advice and safe social contact.

Eligible residents are those who do not have access to any other community support and are either:

  • aged 70+
  • advised by the NHS to self isolate for 12 weeks

The Government is providing support for prescriptions and food to this group of people. Please contact us if you have wider support needs or have not received the food or prescription support you need. You will need your NHS number.

We are also able to provide access to emergency home repairs. This is a paid for service.

From Monday 11 May we have changed the service to support residents to access food. Please read more below.

Request help

Request help for over 70's and vulnerable residents

Or call: 020 8496 3000

The helpline is open

  • 7 days a week
  • 7 am to 7pm

Our call centre is already incredibly busy. If you can request help online, please do. This will mean that those who can't do so online can access the support that they need on the phone.

Please note: We will not come to your home unless we have contacted you beforehand. Make sure you stay safe and ask for identification from anyone knocking on your door.

Change in service to food parcel requests 

Please note from Monday May 11th we have put in place a new service to support residents to get food delivered to their door.

The council will no longer be taking referrals to deliver food parcels directly, and has put in place a new paid for service to support residents in need.

The council started the Community Help Network helpline to provide emergency food provision for older residents who needed support when the supermarkets were overwhelmed and lockdown measures began.

We are proud to have bought and distributed over 3,400 food parcels to residents since that time, with the help of our fantastic volunteers.

We know that many older people in the borough are still staying at home to protect themselves and are struggling to do shopping.

We have put in place a new service in collaboration with Morrisons Chingford to make sure residents can get food delivered to their doorstep.

Morrisons doorstep delivery

We have collaborated with Morrisons Chingford to help ensure that older or vulnerable residents can order food for delivery to their door.

This is a paid for service available for those aged 70+ or vulnerable.

Morrisons aim to process orders within 24 hours and you can select from a list of fresh goods, as well as household essentials.

Payment is taken by card only when the food is delivered. This means that you do not have to set up an online account.

You can place a food order directly with Morrisons by phoning 0345 611 6111 and selecting option 5.

If you would like the Council to help you place this order then call 020 8496 3000.

There is also a food box service available. You can select from a range of options including vegetarian and gluten free, but you will need to set up an online account. Morrisons currently have delivery slots available for this service within a few days. Visit the Morrisons website.  

If you are worried about your finances and paying for food, we can refer you to a local food bank for help

Shopping Service from Age UK Waltham Forest

In addition to the befriending support they are currently offering, Age UK Waltham Forest are offering a food shopping service for residents aged 60+ who are in isolation and unable to rely on family, trusted friends or neighbours for adequate support.

Call 0206 558 5512 or

where they will

  • assess your eligibility
  • prioritising residents most in need
  • help you with your shopping list
  • ordering and delivering a maximum of 15 food items to your door.

Social distancing will be maintained at all times. Money will not be physically exchanged, but Age UK will call you to pay over the phone. If you cannot pay by card over the phone or bank transfer, they will try to make alternative arrangements. More information is available on their website.


We recognise that some residents may be concerned about finances. If this is the case there are several foodbanks operating in the borough.

The council is continuing to support foodbanks with food supplies. Find more details on support service.

Residents may also benefit from visiting our dedicated Financial Assistance for Residents page.

Prescription collection and telephone befriending

We know that lockdown restrictions aren’t easy. If you are struggling with loneliness, contact us so we can put you in touch with a friendly telephone befriending service. We can also help you with prescription collections. Both of these services are free of charge.

If you are requesting help on behalf of someone else please consider: 

  • If you could provide this support directly - we are hugely grateful to all those people supporting friends / family and neighbours. In order to provide a sustainable service throughout the COVID-19 response we have to focus on reaching eligible residents that do not have access to anyone else to help them. 
  • Talk to the person you are requesting help on behalf before you contact us, this will ensure that we are not receiving duplicate requests and that the person knows what to expect. 
  • Check that the person is happy for their details to be shared with the council and its partners 

What’s happened so far?

We have been working with Age UK, local food banks and Waltham Forest Citizen Advice Bureau to provide support to residents with things such as essential food supplies, prescription collections, advice and social contact.

The Council has bought and delivered more than 3,400 food parcels to eligible residents, 1,500 to sheltered housing and women’s refuges, as well as supplying food to local food banks, so that they can continue to support residents in need across the borough. We couldn’t have done that without the help of our fantastic volunteers. The council is continuing to supply food to local food banks so they can continue their valued work in the borough.

Working with Age UK, the network has also helped with over 900 referrals for prescription collection requests, as well as with befriending for people so they have social contact.

The service will continue to evolve to respond to need over coming weeks.

Product recall

We’ve been made aware by our food supplier that select batches of Green Giant canned sweetcorn may have faulty seams. As a precautionary measure General Mills have decided to recall these products.

Product batch affected:

  • Green Giant canned sweetcorn
  • Best before date 07/23
  • Batch number 293,151 / 294,151 / 295,151

What you should do

If you have received this product as part of a food parcel, General Mills are asking people to dispose of the product.

Other help and advice

Financial assistance for residents experiencing hardship.

You can find information on supermarket opening times and other useful information on the page below under useful help and advice.

Information and advice on how to keep well and active 

The Council’s virtual culture offer

Local voluntary and charity organisations have played a vital role in helping residents and responding to COVID-19. The Connecting Communities team is available to assist registered charity and voluntary organisations by sharing information, resources and expertise, and by helping to co-ordinate and link groups together.

Here is a summary of some of the ways we can help you:

  • Helping you through all aspects of the grant and fund bidding process: We can help you to find out what grant opportunities are applicable to your organisation, can assist you through all stages of the application process or review an application you are currently working on.
  • Working together to support residents: If you are providing support to residents around the delivery of food parcels, prescriptions or befriending, we would love to hear from you and discuss how you can work with existing providers across the borough who are delivering similar services. This way we can share valuable intelligence and foster greater collaboration between groups.
  • Utilising our volunteer base: We have a pool of around 4000 volunteers, many of whom have signed up to help the community response to COVID-19. If your organisation could benefit from more volunteers, or volunteers with specific skills and capabilities please get in touch

We will be providing further updates as the programme evolves in the coming weeks. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if there are specific challenges that you are facing at this time that we might be able to help with.

For all queries please email the Connecting Communities team.

For continued updates, sign up to our VCS newsletter

Details of other organisations that may provide additional support, advice on claiming benefits for families, urgent repairs and online social groups within the community.

Help for Families

Call the Children and Family Centre line on 0208 509 6444, leave a voicemail, they will call you back.

Call the families advice line 0300 330 1175 calls charged at local rate open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Special Educational Needs & Disability Information Advice & Support Service

Families and young people to call 020 3233 0251 open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm or email or book a callback.

Universal Credit claims

Call the Help to Claim Line (calls are free) on 0800 144 8 444 open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm or webchat for universal credit

Direct Payment Support Service call 020 3233 0279 open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm

Urgent home repairs 

If you have an urgent home repair book on Service Store, a paid service.

Supermarket priority hours 

Most of the leading supermarkets are offering specific shopping hours for vulnerable people and key workers, information on Money Saving Expert website.

Waltham Forest Citizens Advice

Offering advice on a range of issues including money, benefits, housing and employment.

Advice line: 0300 330 1175

Waltham Forest Citizens Advice

Local foodbanks

Support for artists and creators

If you are an arts organisation, business or individual working in the cultural sector, creative industries or night-time economy in London, please visit the Mayor of London’s Culture at Risk page to register your details for support, guidance and resources. 

Register with the culture at risk office

Share your stories Click to get info

We’d like to celebrate the stories of community kindness happening across the borough, as well as hear about what you are doing while self-isolating If you have a story to share please send it to