Coronavirus (COVID-19): supporting people at higher risk - qualitative research

Findings from interviews with representatives of 16 local authorities across Scotland, exploring how they have been supporting people at higher risk during COVID-19.

Policy background

The Scottish Government (SG) has introduced a number of measures to protect people at most risk from Covid-19, including a £350 million package of support for communities affected by Covid-19 that was available to local authorities, third sector organisations and others.

Initial support was targeted at the 'shielded at risk group' – people who are highly clinically at risk. Subsequent support has targeted the 'non-shielded at risk group' - people at higher risk of negative outcomes if they contract Covid-19 (including those who are aged over 70, pregnant women or those who receive the flu vaccine for medical reasons) and without a support network to help them during this crisis. SG is also aware of the risks to 'marginalised groups' (including homeless people, gypsies and travellers, and people with drug and alcohol dependency) and people with social and/or economic vulnerability.

SG established the National Assistance Helpline on 14th April to support those who are not shielding, but are nevertheless at higher risk from Covid-19. The National Assistance Helpline provides a central point for people across Scotland to call and access their local authority who will support them to access the essential services they need. There were national campaigns to raise awareness of the helpline and encourage people needing assistance to call, particularly the groups outlined above. People in need can also contact their local authority (LA) directly.

Monitoring is underway, including analysis of data provided weekly by LAs on helpline activity, data on calls going through the National Assistance Helpline, and survey data on public awareness of the national helpline. These data sources provide a helpful indication of activity, but do not give us the detail on the operation of the helplines, callers, and the support received, meaning there are a number of unanswered questions about this part of the Covid-19 support package.



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