November Update - Advice And Support From The Trust For All Beneficiaries
Supporting You During The Second Lockdown
Well hello everyone – I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to be writing too many more Coronavirus Updates but here we are back in lockdown for four weeks and with a winter of restrictions ahead. With shorter days and darker evenings this is bound to affect the physical and mental wellbeing of everyone. But do remember you are not on your own and you can call us at the Trust for a support, advice or just a friendly voice. We are in the process of making another round of wellbeing calls to every one of you to catch up and understand the issues you are facing as time goes on. So please do reply to our contact, or get in touch if there is something you would like to discuss.
Staying Safe And Well
In previous Updates I have covered subjects such as – online shopping, face masks, keeping positive and protecting your mental wellbeing and the importance of keeping routine health appointments and contacting your doctor if you have any new symptoms.
The Medical Advisers are also keen to remind you all to take vitamin supplements. There is even more evidence emerging of the importance of taking Vitamin C and D supplements as a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to take preventative measures to support your immune system against the virus. All of us should be taking 1000mg of Vitamin C and a minimum of 600-800 IU/d vitamin D3 daily. If you do not like taking tablets (like me) then vitamin D3 is available in liquid form and you just need a drop or two on your tongue daily. And, if you have not yet had your flu jab – that is an important way to stay safe too.
You can find all of the previous updates by clicking on the panel on the right.
Although England is in lockdown, the other countries in the UK have different rules in place. To find out the latest guidance for where you live please use the links below:
Beneficiaries and Covid-19
I know that many of you are interested in how Covid-19 is affecting your fellow beneficiaries and of course we are keeping a close eye on this.
In the first wave of Covid-19, earlier this year, we were aware that a small number of you had symptoms, but no-one was hospitalised. However, in this second wave we are aware that two beneficiaries have been seriously unwell and hospitalised with the virus and, very sadly, one beneficiary passed away as a result.
There were underlying health conditions in both of these cases and it is really important that anyone with underlying health conditions is particularly careful to follow the public health guidance and that we all resist the urge to become complacent about the risks. Again, do contact us if you have concerns about your own health. If you have been affected by this news and would like to talk to someone, give us a call.
Covid-19 Vaccines – A Note from Dr Susan Brennan – Medical Adviser
Good news on vaccine development
A light at the end of the tunnel for the Covid-19 pandemic seems finally possible with the news that the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, has developed a vaccine that has shown to be 90% effective. Protection is apparently achieved 28 days after the initiation of the vaccination, which consists of two doses given 21 days apart. The vaccine has already been through Pfizer’s own trial and enrolled more than 40,000 people from across the world. 41 per cent of these participants are aged between 56 and 85 years old. It's really encouraging to know that the Pfizer vaccine seems to work on older people as effectively as in younger ones.
The vaccine uses something called messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. This relies on giving the body a genetic code-like a set of instructions, for the body to generate an immune response, by making antibodies and T-cells, which are able to fight the Coronavirus. Although the full trial data has yet to be published, Pfizer say there have been no serious safety concerns.
Vaccine safety checks still to be completed
It is natural to have questions about the safety of a vaccine produced so quickly, especially given your history of thalidomide. However, it is important to say that the vaccine will have to meet strict safety criteria in order to satisfy the MHRA, the UK's regulator of medicines and medical devices, responsible for ensuring their safety, quality and effectiveness. The MRHA will also seek advice from the Government’s independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines. The Commission will also critically assess the data on the vaccine before advising the UK Government on the safety and quality of this vaccine.
The data on the vaccine will also be reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for approval, which are the counterpart regulatory bodies in the USA and Europe.
The news of this vaccine is obviously encouraging and can hopefully guide us out of this pandemic, but the full safety data of the vaccine still needs to be examined carefully by the regulatory bodies to ensure it's safe for the general public and we await this news with cautious optimism.
Looking After Yourself - A Mental Health Guide To Coping With Lockdown In Winter
- Limit news – limit the amount of time you spend on social media or checking news.
- Lighting – on dark mornings wake up gradually using a SAD light.
- Take time for yourself – plan time into your week where you can engage in activities that are relaxing. It is important to have time for yourself when you engage in self care.
- Stay connected – even though it is difficult to see friends / family it is important to stay connected on a regular basis. Beneficiary volunteers are holding online events via Zoom and would love you to get involved. See below for more details about the Positively Connected beneficiary group.
- Coping strategies – identify some positive strategies you can engage in that help deal with stress, worry or anxiety.
- Plan your week – organise your week and plan in activities that provide you with a sense of pleasure and achievement. You could join a Virtual Coffee break or online stretching session run by a beneficiary volunteer.
- Help others – whether it’s helping someone close to you or supporting them with a phone call, helping others can help provide you with positive emotions. If you would like to assist in supporting other beneficiaries, please get in touch to explore if any of the Trust’s Volunteer positions are suitable for you.
- Connect to your values – reconnect with things that are important to you and try to engage with them on a regular basis.
- Stay active – try to stay active throughout the day. Regular exercise is good for reducing stress and boosting mood.
- Ask for help – if you find yourself struggling ask family, friends or the Trust for help. Talking through your worries with a trained volunteer could help allay your worries.
Lots of beneficiaries are keeping in touch with each other through the new Positively Connected group which has a wide range of online activities and opportunities to chat with other beneficiaries and staff.
Beneficiaries have been attending Cook-ups, Book Club, Creative sessions, Stretch classes, Bingo and a Quiz. A Bumper Christmas Quiz is planned for Sunday 20 December at 6pm, all for fun of course!
Here are some of the things beneficiaries are saying about the group:
Why not join in? Even if you are not very confident with technology - we can help you to get connected with Zoom from a desktop, laptop, tablet or SMART phone.
Lift-Up is a six week self-help programme to improve your mood if you are feeling low.
To find out if this service is for you, contact Michelle on 01480 474074 or email
From the Men’s Health Forum we have a supply of a mini manual ‘Man MOT for the Mind’. This is a fabulous short book specifically designed to provide advice to men on staying physically and mentally well. The men we have tested it on have been full of praise!
If you would like a copy, please call or email the Trust and we will post you one free of charge. That number again – 01480 474074 or email
In the meantime, Stay Safe, Stay Well and Stay in Touch.
Director of Health & Wellbeing