FAQs from Families about COVID-19

There is no doubt that you are facing a variety of challenges at this current time and we want you to know that our team are here to help in any way we can.

Our team are hearing more questions from families each day. We’ve put together this page to show our responses which may answer a question of your own.

Many services will have stopped or will be running on reduced capacity which means we cannot guarantee the accuracy of any service contact information other than our own.

We have put together a selection of resources that are helpful particularly for family members at this current time and we will update as more resources are released.

We will update this page regularly so please keep checking back.

Our Services

Are the Scottish Families support services still running?

Yes, our services are still open for business. Our helpline, bereavement support and one-to-one support are all available online or by phone. Currently all of our support groups in Aberdeenshire, East Dunbartonshire and Forth Valley are suspended, but if you were being supported by one of our local workers then they are still able to keep in touch with you and arrange phone chats.

Helpline: 08080 10 10 11
Helpline email: helpline@sfad.org.uk
Webchat available on our website: www.sfad.org.uk

When is Routes starting back again?

We hope to have our young person’s group up and running after this situation has calmed down and we can all be together again. If you need support Pam and Claire are here to help and they will have contacted you to let you know the group’s are suspended.


Supporting Someone Else

I’m worried about my loved one going out to buy alcohol. Can I buy it for them? What happens though if they go into withdrawal? Is there an amount they can drink to stop withdrawals?

There are a lot of different factors for every person so unfortunately there isn’t an amount that we can suggest your loved one drinks. Medical guidance would advise someone who is physically dependent on alcohol not to stop drinking suddenly because this can put the person at risk of a withdrawal seizure. It’s difficult for someone else to manage a person’s withdrawal. Some guidance we have been given is for someone to drink enough for the withdrawal symptoms to go. Withdrawal symptoms can include shaking, trembling, increased heart rate and sweating, but everyone will feel differently.

We recommend speaking to the brilliant team at We Are With You on their webchat for advice.

My loved one is coming and going from the house despite the current restrictions, what can I do?

Reminding your loved ones of the current restrictions and communicating your fears to them about the risk they are posing not only to themselves but to others in the house and to the wider community might be helpful. Be honest with them but respectful to avoid things ending in an argument.

The government has released some guidance on social distancing which may help – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

It’s important that you are aware of your own boundaries with this. Are you in the vulnerable or high-risk category? If so, it may be worth exploring with them if there is a more appropriate place for them to stay during this time. If this is not possible then reiterating good hygiene routines such as hand washing and using anti-bacteria gel when possible. Another idea is to offer restricted access to certain areas in the house while this behaviour continues such as asking your loved one not to use the communal areas in the house if they are choosing to come in and out of the house at this time.

My loved one is in prison and now we’re not allowed to see them because of the pandemic.

Families Outside support people affected by imprisonment and they are still supporting families right now. They can be contacted by their helpline 0800 254 0088, email support@familiesoutside.org.uk, by text FAMOUT to 60777 or by webchat www.familiesoutside.org.uk. Tracey Burns who is the Group Work & Peer Support Manager is available to support any young people affected by imprisonment during this team and can be contacted by mobile 07384469640 or email tracey.burns@familiesoutside.org.uk.

My loved one is drinking and in the vulnerable category or self-isolating, should I buy them alcohol?

This is a tough one and it comes down to weighing up the risks. It can feel counterintuitive to buy someone you love alcohol despite being worried about their drinking. Normally we would advise not being involved in their drinking behaviour which includes buying it for them, however with the current restrictions and risks on leaving your home changes things. If your loved one is healthy and well, not being involved in buying them alcohol is always better including not giving them money.

Some exceptions where it may be safer to buy your loved one alcohol are:

  • If someone has been drinking regularly and their body is used to having high levels of alcohol in the system, it can be dangerous for them to stop drinking so quickly. Trying to manage some else’s withdrawals from alcohol can be difficult and dangerous too. Everyone is different and the advice is to drink enough to stop the withdrawal symptoms which can be difficult for you to gauge for them. It may be about making sure they have enough alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms during this time.
  • If your loved one is likely to risk going out to get alcohol themselves if you do not get it for them, it is worth weighing up the risk of them getting alcohol and the current high risk of them contracting or spreading COVID-19. It is okay to set some boundaries with this – buying if for them daily rather than a week’s supply to avoid binging, etc. However, if a boundary doesn’t work this can cause more issues. If this happens phone our helpline for support – 08080 10 10 11.
I heard that some stores are letting you use gift cards to help people who are self-isolating buy their messages?

Some stores are using gift-cards to help people who are self-isoalting. The Co-op are doing this, you can call 0800 029 4592 to order a card and they will post it out to you within 2-3 days. You can find out full terms and conditions here.


Health and Wellbeing

I’m so used to having a routine and helping my loved one during the day, now that we’re all to stay indoors I don’t know what to do and feel a bit worried and bored.

It’s difficult to change your routine when you have done it for so long, but a few little things can help. You could start by planning out your day, even writing it down, and following it as a guide to help you. Some of our team have already written out to-do lists like things to do around the house, fun things to make like baking or painting, and then giving yourself some down time like having a bath or watching a new box-set. Taking some time out in your day for yourself and doing things you enjoy can really make a difference to your mental health.

We’re big fans of mindfulness and we recommend the Headspace app here.

We also love the Healthy Mind Platter which lists seven daily essential activities to keep us going.

I am self-isolating with a loved one who is using alcohol or other drugs

Your own safety and well-being are important here. You can put boundaries in place for your own involvement with their alcohol or drug use. We recommend learning ways to respond to their behaviour. The Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) guide is a tool we always recommend to people and it always works well – www.the20minuteguide.com.

Focus on your own self-care and only ‘take on’ what you feel comfortable with. If you have a supportive friend or family member who you can vent to then give them a call. You can also speak to one of our helpline advisors who are more than happy to listen – 08080 10 10 11 by phone or helpline@sfad.org.uk by email.

I’m just out of self-isolation and have no idea how anything works! Do you have any advice?

Money Saving Expert have a brilliant web page full of updated information on everything that’s happening including supermarket shopping, travel refunds, cancelled events information and many other things explained. You can read it here.


Children off School

I need help with childcare because I am a parent with learning difficulties.

It is best to contact the school your child goes to for this kind of information to see if there’s support in place. We have heard from some schools that the head teacher has shared their contact information and is willing to take calls from any parent or guardian. The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD) have put together a hub of resources which may be helpful to you, click here to visit their website.

I’m struggling with having my kids at home all the time, it’s stressing me out and I don’t know what to do about home-schooling.

It is a really stressful time for families. You could contact your school to see if they have information about helping with teaching. Children 1st have a brilliant resource here for parents and children which may be helpful. Please do not stress about home-schooling, you are doing your best and it is more important to keep a healthy relationship with your children in this stressful time.

I’m worried about what to do with my child now that they’re off school – how can I do any teaching?

There’s a ‘Show my Homework’ app that some teachers and pupils across Scotland have been using. Teachers are updating their classes regularly with materials, activities and links for pupils to do. It may be worth having a look and it is available both on Android and iOS.


Technology and Going Online

We’ve had some questions from family members about going online, using Google, how to use a smartphone or tablet, and questions about internet security.

Digital Unite have a brilliant page full of how-to guides for many things such as going online, how to use a computer, internet security, online shopping, social media, and many more. You can read the guides here and share with your family, friends, and anyone who needs a bit of digital support right now.

I’ve received a few emails about the virus and potential cures but I don’t think they’re real, are they a scam?

Sadly, there are lots of online scams right now that are using the pandemic to prey on people. The BBC have shared a list of scams they currently know of that you can see here. If you receive an email like this delete it immediately and do not click on any of the links. Police Scotland has also released information on scammers, including people who may come to your door pretending to be selling testing kits or other products.

My child has been using the internet and going online much more since the schools closed and I’m worried about their safety.

The internet is a fun and helpful tool for children to stay connected during this time, but as like everyone who uses the internet there are risks with security. Digital Unite have a few guites on keeping your kids safe online which is worth a read. Children may also be at risk of online-bullying, RespectMe have released an easy-to-read guide on how to talk to your kids and keep them safe when they go online.


Own Substance Use

I need help for my cocaine use. I’ve never had help before but how can I get it if I’m not allowed to go out?

You can leave your home if it’s for medical/health-related reasons, but you should phone your local treatment service for assessment and support as there will not be a drop-in. You can also phone the Cocaine Anonymous helpline 0141 959 6363 and look at SMART online meetings.

I can’t get in touch with my key worker in the service I attend.

The Scottish Government’s advice is to keep trying to contact your own worker or your local service. It may be taking them a few days to get new arrangements in place. You can also speak to your pharmacist by phone to arrange for someone else to collect your medication – you do not need to arrange this with your worker. We are updating our own service directory as things are changing every day.

My group meetings have stopped, and I’m worried on who I can talk to.

UK SMART Recovery are now offering short meetings by telephone from 9am-5pm. If you are struggling or would like a little extra support you can also email support@smartrecovery.org.uk and leave your name and telephone number requesting a call back.



I’m considered vulnerable but I’m fit and healthy. Can I still go outside if I wear a face mask?

The whole of the UK has now been told to stay indoors and to only leave the house if you are: buying essential items once a day, going out for exercise once a day, have to go to work if it’s essential or if you have care needs/medical needs or need to look after a vulnerable person. Everyone must abide by these rules to keep people safe. In terms of face masks, we recommend reading this article.

My loved one is vulnerable, how can I help them?

The UK government have put together guidance for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition. The guidance also supports their family, friends and carers. Read Here.

My GP’s phone keeps ringing out and I’ve been told not to go into the surgery. I have a prescription for high blood pressure and stress I need to re-order and collect. What do I do?

Most prescriptions are now being sent directly to the pharmacy. You don’t need to go into a medical centre to collect a repeat, they are sending them straight to the pharmacy.


Food Banks

How do I get a voucher for the Food Bank?

Phone your local Food Bank to see if they are open or check online or on social media. If you are self-isolating, ask if they do home deliveries.  Click here to find out where your local Food Bank is.


Housing and Employment

I’m worried about topping up my energy meter, what can I do?

If you’re struggling or unable to top-up your energy meter because you are self-isolating, contact your supplier as soon as possible. Energy firms are putting in place new measures to help prepayment customers who are unable to top-up at this current time. Please see this post from Money Saving Expert for further information.

I’m worried about being evicted from my home

The Scottish Government has announced that it will bring in legislation to stop evictions in the private and social sectors for up to 6 months. Shelter Scotland has some information over on their website for anyone worried about facing eviction or tenancy issues which you can read here.

I’ve lost my job because of coronavirus and I’m struggling to pay my rent.

Citizens Advice have brilliant information over on their website which you can read here if you’re struggling to pay things like your rent, mortgage or energy bills because of what’s going on.

I’m self-isolating so I can’t do my job and I don’t know much about what I’m entitled to, do you have any information?

Money Advice Service have a great guide over on their website which you can read here that has information about your rights to sick pay, what benefits you can claim if you’re self-employed or not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).


Domestic Violence

My loved one gets violent when they drink/use other drugs. I am worried for my safety staying at home with them, what should I do?

If there is an immediate threat to your wellbeing or the wellbeing of others in your house, contact the Police on 999.

For ongoing advice and wellbeing support you can contact the Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 027 1234, or check out their website which has a webchat.

Women’s Aid also have a webchat

My son has no money for alcohol and is being aggressive towards me. I’m in a high-risk and isolating at home, he’s not listening to the social distancing advice and is coming and going from my house at all times of the day with other people.

If you are worried for your safety and your son is not following the guidance or social distancing you should phone the Police on 999 and let them know what’s going on.

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