26th May 2020

Coronavirus: Vulnerable Consumers

Additional advice for vulnerable consumers 

The information on this page was last updated on 26 May 2020. 

Deliveries while self-isolating

Use the drop-down menus below to find out more about food deliveries. 

Supermarkets - Online Delivery Orders

Asda, Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have now confirmed they will allocate a proportion of online delivery slots to this group who need it most. You must register your interest here.

Weekly delivery service - Vulnerable consumers

The Department for Communities has announced that in the coming days a new weekly service will commence which will see 10,000 food boxes being delivered to the most vulnerable in society during the COVID-19 lockdown. A box of mainly non-perishable goods will be delivered directly to the door of vulnerable people who have been notified to shield by their GPs and who cannot afford food, and do not have access to local support networks. These boxes will also be available to those who are not shielding, but are in critical need of food. 

Telephone 0808 802 0020, email [email protected], or text: ACTION to 81025 to access further information, advice and guidance.

See who is offering food delivery in your area

  • InYourArea, in collaboration with Belfast Live, is offering support to small businesses across the country by launching a tool to see who is offering delivery in each postcode area. Click here for more details.
  • Who is delivering? Northern Ireland is a Facebook page that is sharing information on businesses in Northern Ireland that are delivering fresh food, groceries and pre-made meals. Have a check to see what local businesses near you are able to deliver food to your door. There is an interactive map available by clicking here.

Collection and delivery service for food and medicine

  • DATS operated by Disability Action are offering a collection and delivery service for food and medicines for people living in Belfast, Bangor, Carrick, Holywood, Newtownabbey and Newtownards). You don't have to be a DATS member to use this service. More details of the service is available here
  • Rural Community Transport Partnerships are also offering pick-up and delivery services for food and medication for both members and non-members. See the NI Direct website for the contact details for all the Rural Community Transport Partnerships see the NI Direct website here.

Spar, Eurospar and Vivo offering home deliveries 

Over 200 Spar, Eurospar and Vivo stores are now offering home delivery to help those who are unable to get access to groceries. A list of the stores offering this service is available here.

Post Office Card Account

If you are concerned about going into your post office you can nominate someone to use your card. You will need to complete a form. More information is available here.

Accessible Travel NI

Imtac runs a website called Accessible Travel NI, which lists information about accessible travel and transport in Northern Ireland. During the current COVID-19 crisis, the site also provides updates about changes to transport and travel.

Click here to visit the website.


Most Telecoms providers will ensure that vulnerable customers or those self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication wherever possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out. More information is available here.

Useful contacts

COVID-19 Community Helpline

Department for Communities has set up a freephone helpline to give advice and information about support for people in vulnerable groups in Northern Ireland.

Phone: 0808 802 0020 from 9am to 5pm (open 7 days a week).

Text: ACTION to 81025

Email: [email protected]

Links to useful websites

Jobs and Benefits Offices 

Helplines NI

Northern Ireland Equality Commission 

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Community NI

Aware NI

Age NI

Advice Agencies Details 

NI Direct: Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for vulnerable people

Local Councils

Each of the 11 councils are playing a key role in supporting their communities, including assisting with the distribution of food boxes to people having problems accessing basic supplies. More details are available here.

Also, be sure to contact your local politician if you have any queries or concerns. Some local politicians have been using their social media accounts to share information for vulnerable consumers with local and community based solutions.

Local council support - A brief overview

  • Antrim and Newtownabbey: Its website has a list of community support services that can help with shopping and medicine collections.
  • Ards and North Down: An interactive map on its website shows which local shops are offering delivery here (the information can also be viewed as a directory); the council also has two community support teams in place and an outreach programme for people who are potentially isolated and vulnerable - the best way to be referred to one of those teams is to contact the Department of Community helpline on 0808 802 0020.
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon: A community hub on its website lists community support services and details on how to access help, including food and delivery services; there's also a list of local shops offering delivery and collection services here.
  • Belfast City: Have advised residents to follow their social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to find organisations offering support; Community NI also has a list of partners providing community support in the Belfast area.
  • Causeway Coast and Glens: A directory of community support is on their website - these organisations can help assist with food and prescription delivery, fuel and social contact; the council also has set up a coordination hub, which aims to ensure the most vulnerable are connected to support services - call the Department of Communities helpline on 0808 802 0020 for more.
  • Derry City and Strabane: A list of community and charity groups are linked on its website; it's also making a £50,000 fund available to community groups providing services in the local area; has also launched a waste support helpline, for anyone experiencing a build up of household waste - you can call the helpline on 028 7137 6590, 9-5 Monday to Friday.
  • Fermanagh and Omagh: Its website has a list of organisations that can offer support with home deliveries, advice, telephone calls to combat isolation and other services.
  • Lisburn and Castlereagh: Information on local businesses running delivery services is here on their website.
  • Mid and East Antrim: A list of businesses offering home delivery across Carrickfergus, Larne and Ballymena can be found on their website, along with their times of delivery; there is also an interactive map, which residents can move around and use to find shops in their area offering delivery.
  • Mid-Ulster: The council has set up an emergency community support fund to give financial backing to groups providing support in the community with deliveries; it also has a list of local businesses that deliver on its website.
  • Newry, Mourne and Down: The council has set up a community coordination hub to help the areas' more vulnerable residents - the group will be distributing food parcels on behalf of the Department of Communities, you can contact the hub via the main helpline 0808 802 0020.

Supporting Communities

Supporting Communities convenes the Housing Community Network over the 13 geographical Housing Executive Areas in Northern Ireland and has created a page for each of these areas.

The pages signpost members to localised information and resources they can use to respond to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to view the webpage. You can also view the latest e-zine for latest information here.

Utility Care Registers

Critical Care Registers

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE Networks) and NI Water operate a Critical Care Register where they keep details of consumers who rely on electrical equipment or on a water supply for their day to day care. In the case of electricity customers this includes medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, patient vital signs monitoring systems and home dialysis. NI Water's critical care register is for consumers with serious medical conditions.

Adding your details to this register will allow NI Water and NIE Networks to prioritise your contact details if your supply goes off.

Click here for more information, including how to sign up. 

Customer Care Registers

All electricity and gas suppliers in Northern Ireland must keep a Customer Care Register with the details and special needs of customers who are of pensionable age, disabled (by virtue of being blind, partially sighted, deaf or hearing impaired) or chronically sick. Suppliers can provide free assistance and services to customers who register their details with them. 

Click here for more information, including care features by companies. 

Staying safe from scams

Visit our Avoiding Scams section for some useful tips to avoid scams and stay safe during this time. 

You will also find protective measures such as the PSNI Quick Check service and the PSNI Nominated Neighbour card scheme. 

Food banks

There are numerous food banks operating across Northern Ireland. Many of these are operated by The Trussell Trust, who can point you in the direction of your local food bank. 

We are monitoring food banks in Northern Ireland and have published the most up-to-date information in the link below. 

NHS Translation Service

The NHS Covid-19 NI 111 helpline operates a service called ‘Language Line’. You make the operator aware that you need a translator and for which language. The operator then transfers you to a ’Language Line’ interpreter who will interpret for you.

Helplines NI

The Helplines NI website includes details of UK and NI helplines that have been setup in response to coronavirus. To date, over 20 new helplines covering a range of topics (e.g. community helpline, befriending, government grants, pregnancy) have been established specifically in response to coronavirus. 

Find out more here:


Pharmacies and chemists, including non-dispensing pharmacies, currently remain open. 

Boots has produced a FAQ regarding the coronavirus, prescription deliveries and collecting prescriptions for other people. 

Additional Services

Action on Hearing Loss NI 

Action on Hearing Loss is currently unable to offer face-to-face services. This includes their Information Service, Hearing Aid Support Service, Tinnitus Support Service and Employment Service.  They will still continue to support people who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus via phone, email and text and they are currently exploring options for video calls.  They can also post out hearing aid batteries where possible.  They have updated the contact details for all their services on their website so you know who to contact for support.

Download their leaflet here or click here for further contact details. 

Health and Social Care Remote Sign Language Interpreting Service

A free remote interpreting service for British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) users in Northern Ireland has been introduced to provide the Deaf community with access to:

  • NHS111 (Northern Ireland COVID-19 advice line) and
  • All health and social care services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To contact NHS111, visit:

To contact all other Health and Social Care services including your local GP, visit:

Debt Management 

Visit our 'True Cost' webpage here for helpful information about where to go to for help. 

A list of advice agencies that may be able to help you if you are worried about debt is available here.

Christians Against Poverty's helpline, 0800 328 0006, remains open during these difficult times. If you need assistance please call this number and they can assist you finding the help you need. Their existing clients can also contact them on the usual number 01274 761999.


  • East Belfast EBCDA helpline - 07783631110 or 07783631114
  • South Belfast helpline - 07394 569 155
  • Greater Shankill Community Support Helpline - 07925612870
  • North Belfast Advice Partnership & Food Bank - 02890391225
  • Rural Support Helpline - 0800 138 1678
  • Mid Ulster Women’s Aid - 028 8676 9300