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05th May 2022

Coronavirus: Vulnerable Consumers

Additional advice for vulnerable consumers 

The information on this page was last updated on 6 April 2022. 

Food Banks

There are numerous food banks operating across Northern Ireland.

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

Many of these are operated by The Trussell Trust. Their website contains further information on food banks, ways to get involved, benefits, and has an interactive map to point you in the direction of the food banks they operate. 

There is also additional information about food banks in our Advice Directory


Pension Credit check

Do not to miss out on claiming Pension Credit you may be entitled to.

Check your eligibility for Pension Credit, using the Pension Credit Calculator or by ringing the Pension Centre on 0800 587 0892.

Having savings, a pension or owning a home are not automatic barriers to receiving the benefit and even a small award of Pension Credit can provide access to other services such as dental & optical treatment.

Find out more by visiting NI Direct.

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 at

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.

You can visit the website on

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 (Monday to Friday).

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 at

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: Its website has a list of of local shops that are offering food delivery; 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, along with their times of delivery; on an interactive map, which residents can move around and use to find shops in their area offering delivery.
  • 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.

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.

For more information, including how to sign up visit The Consumer Council webpage.

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. 

For more information, including care features by companies visit The Consumer Council consumer rights and advice webpage.

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. 

Advice for blind and partially sighted people

Do you know a blind or partially sighted person who is offline? Guide Dogs NI has developed an Advice Document which could help them with vital sources of support during COVID-19. You can download the document from

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: Helplines NI

Additional Services

RNID - National Hearing Loss Charity

RNID 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 from or visit 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 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 at

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

Carer ID Card - Priority Shopping Hours

An ID card to support carers in Northern Ireland, similar to IDs for healthcare workers, is now available. Carers will be able to show their ID in stores to get access to priority shopping hours.

Carer ID cards are issued by the Health Trusts. Carers who are known to their local Trust and are in receipt of services will receive an ID card – there is no need to apply for a card. 

Young carers will be contacted by either Barnardos or Action for Children depending on the Trust area they live in.  

Please contact your Trust Carer co-ordinator, Barnardos or Action for Children if you have not received a card before 22 June 2020. Contact details below. 

Contact Details for Trusts, Action for Children and Barnardos

Young Carers in Northern Ireland
Action for Children
Telephone: 028 9046 0500

Contact Dougie Tyler

Northern Trust
Telephone Carer Hub: 028 2766 1210

Belfast Trust
Telephone Carer Service: 028 9504 6702

Southern Trust
Telephone: 028 3756 6284

Western Trust
Southern Sector (Fermanagh/Omagh/Castlederg)
Telephone: 028 6634 4163

Northern Sector (Strabane/L’Derry/Limavady)
Telephone: 028 7135 5023

South Eastern Trust
Telephone: 028 4372 1807