Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding support and contacts

Details of shielding support for vulnerable people to arrange for food and medicine deliveries, and other support services.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding support and contacts
SMS shielding service

SMS shielding service

The SMS Shielding Service allows us to keep in touch with you.

It will send automated messages to ask whether you need us to arrange a weekly delivery of basic groceries for you. 

We will also use it to check whether you need medications delivered, and to keep you up to date with other forms of support available to you.  

If you do not have a mobile phone, you will still be able to access support with daily living by calling your local authority.

Please have your CHI number to hand. Your CHI number can be found at the top of the letter you will have received.

How long you’ll be able to get support from the SMS Shielding Service

You’ll be able to access the SMS Shielding Service for as long as you’re advised you need to stay at home. At the moment, this is for at least 12 weeks from the date you got your first letter asking you to stay at home.

You’ll get updates from the SMS Shielding Service if the length you’re advised to stay at home changes.

Signing up for the SMS Shielding Service

To sign up, you need to text the service your 10 digit CHI number. Please only include your CHI number in your message, don’t include any other words or information.

This will make sure that the service can identify your CHI number and check it against our records to confirm you are eligible for shielding services.

If you get a response saying that your CHI number has not been recognised, you may have made a mistake entering it – please try again. 

If your GP or specialist clinician has told you that you’re in the shielding group but you haven’t yet received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer, you may find that there is a delay of several days before you are able to register for the text message service, while your records are being updated. If you need help arranging groceries or other support while you are waiting to be able to register, you should contact your local authority.

Please note the SMS Shielding Service number only accepts text messages. It does not take voice calls. Also, because the SMS Shielding Service is not checked by a person, we cannot respond to questions. The SMS Shielding Service can only respond to your texts with pre-programmed replies. If you need to speak to a person you should call your local authority’s helpline.

You might not need the service right now but registering will also help us to keep in touch with you if you need help later on. 

If you encounter difficulties registering for the SMS, it is likely that any issues are short term network issues. Please contact your local authority helpline and register with them in these circumstances.

CHI number

When you contact the SMS Shielding Service or your local authority helpline, you will be asked for your ten digit CHI number to help identify you. Your CHI number can be found at the top of the letter you will have received.