With the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic still so uncertain, and the pressures of the past year – including the end of the furlough scheme, the ongoing “energy crisis”, the cut to Universal Credit, and the impacts of winter storms like Arwen and Barra – we’ve brought back our Wellness in Winter campaign for 2021/22.
We want to focus on people’s health and wellbeing throughout the winter – everything from physical health (including flu and COVID-19 vaccinations and how they are being rolled out) and mental health, to how to keep spirits up during the festive period (and beyond, into January), and financial worries.
However, we’re delighted to say that even during these challenges, our local third sector and communities continue to do amazing things to bring joy to people’s lives across Falkirk. You can find out what they have planned on our dedicated Falkirk Festivities 2021 page (linked for your convenience).
We hope you find this page useful, and that you stay safe and well this winter, and beyond.
(Image caption: against a white snowy background, (left) a pair of hands in white mittens cupped around a red stone heart, and (right) the words “Wellness in Winter” in black slanted text, surrounded by a red border.)
While Scotland officially “moved beyond” Level 0 of its protection levels in August 2021, some protective measures remained in place, including masks and face coverings indoors and on public transport, by law (with exemptions in place), and the collection of contact details as part of Test and Protect. People are also advised to continue to clean their hands and surfaces regularly.
Other baseline measures remain in place:
- Scottish Government will continue to use travel restrictions, as and when necessary, to restrict the spread of outbreaks and protect against the risk of importation of new variants
- people should continue home working where possible
However, as a result of increasing numbers of the Omicron variant:
- from Saturday 11th December, all household contacts of any confirmed COVID 19 case must isolate for 10 days regardless of vaccination status – even if they initially receive a negative PCR test
- people should limit the amount of social contact you have with other households – gather in groups of no more than 3 households
- main family gatherings for the festive period have been recognised as important to people’s wellbeing at this time of year, after the impact of the pandemic, and currently, no limits are in place on these; however, rooms should be kept ventilated, and everyone should take lateral flow tests before, and after
- people are also being urged to defer work Christmas parties to slow the spread of the virus, based on advice from Public Health Scotland
- they are also strongly advised to take lateral flow tests in advance of meeting up with others
- Scottish Government published a new evidence paper on the variant
The First Minister’s press conference on Friday 10th December is available to watch online via the Scottish Government Twitter, where she outlines these updates, joined by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Gregor Smith and National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch.
Additional measures (including limits with other households) were announced in the First Minister’s address to Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 14th December, which is available to watch on the Scottish Parliament website. All guidance will be released via the Scottish Government channels linked below.
Stay up to date with all COVID-19 restrictions via:
Our team and partners have been in touch with community food providers throughout the Falkirk area, and pulled all their contact information into a simple 2 page document, which can be viewed or downloaded as a pdf document (linked for your convenience). The list is organised alphabetically by local area.
You can also get in touch with specific groups in your area via their contact details on our local directory, which is organised alphabetically by group name.
Please share these details with anyone and anywhere you think people may need it this winter.
We know that money worries or pressures add to the concerns of individuals and families, including isolation and the impact seen on mental health and physical health.
In order to help people in Falkirk, and help local groups and services support the people they are engaging with, we have pulled together some information and resources available to help maximise income for individuals and families, especially during COVID-19, including sources of financial assistance and debt counselling.
This new page includes information that families and individuals can access themselves as well as stakeholder and partner resources.
To read the full list, please visit the new Maximising Income page.
We’ve created a brand new page listing physical health resources and support, including everything from flu and COVID-19 vaccinations and how they are being rolled out, to pharmacy opening hours and Vitamin D access.
To read the full list, please visit the new Wellness in Winter: Health page.
- Local Pharmacies
NHS Forth Valley has contacted local pharmacies across the Falkirk area (including those in more rural or widespread areas) and confirmed their opening hours during this period, which they have published on their website, as part of their Winter Zone.
The list is organised by area and then holiday date; entries include the pharmacy’s hours that day, their address and contact details.
To access this list, please visit the NHS Forth Valley website (linked for your convenience), under the “Pharmacy Services and Opening Times” (third section).
- Mental Health Support in Falkirk
Our team has pulled together a list of the mental health services available in Falkirk, split into those providing immediate help and those who offer more general support.
The list is available to view or download as a pdf document (linked for your convenience); please share with anyone and anywhere you think people may need it this winter.
A number of our local partners and mental health groups have also created a handy leaflet with codes and links to useful apps, amongst others. The flyer is available to view or download as a pdf, or as two jpegs: page one, page two.
Scottish Government has recognised the impact the pandemic and lockdown restrictions has had on people’s mental health and wellbeing. They have created ClearYourHead.scot, a website full of resources, information and reassuring messages to support people in Scotland during this time, including how important it is to take breaks from news and social media.
There is also a Winter Tips video, with information on clearing your head and connecting with others this winter.
The most important thing to remember is that daily life has changed for all of us in Scotland, and it can feel worrying, lonely and uncertain. It’s ok to not feel yourself.
For further information, please visit the ClearYourHead website.
- Men’s Mental Health Resources
As November was men’s mental health month, See Me Scotland has been working to highlight how important it is for anyone who identifies as male or a man to be able to talk about how they feel.
Their 2020 poll found that 39% of men were worried about the reactions of others when talking about their mental health, while 30% said that not knowing who to talk to stopped them from opening up. As a result, See Me Scotland is looking at why talking about men’s mental health is important, and what they, and everyone, can do to help.
Societal expectations and stereotypes around having to be strong and “manly” play a role in why men are less likely to talk about their mental health, or seek help for their mental health problems.
See Me Scotland has a series of resources, information and links to help combat this stigma, including myths around men’s mental health, and where to seek help.
For further information, please view last year’s full web article.
- Step on Stress 2022
NHS Forth Valley has announced new dates for free online “Step On Stress” sessions, taking place January – March 2022 via Teams.
The sessions are open to everyone over 16 years old who lives or works in Forth Valley, and replace the old Stress Control course.
Step On Stress runs over 3 weeks, and is pre-recorded and livestreamed. There will be a moderated Q&A function during each session, which all cover a different topic each week, and last just over an hour.
For further information, including how to take part, please visit the full article.
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Themed Wakelet Resource
Forth Valley College (FVC) has created a new resource showcasing and promoting the range of support options and resources available to students to support their mental health and wellbeing, using the Wakelet tool, a free online platform which allows users to gather online links and content into one place, split by category or topic.
The FVC mental health and wellbeing themed Wakelet is available to view online without an existing account or sign-up needed. FVC invites local third sector groups and organisations to get in touch so their support offer can be added to this resource and made easily available to students.
For further information, view the full web article.
We’ve created a page specifically featuring support available for carers in Falkirk during COVID-19, including vaccination updates and dates of information sessions.
To view the full list, please visit the dedicated Support for Carers During COVID-19 page.
Unpaid carers (including young carers and young adult carers) who are looking for support can contact the Falkirk and Clackmannanshire Carers Centre:
If you or any member of your family need to isolate due to exposure to COVID-19, or have been advised to shield, there is support in place in Falkirk:
- Support for People helpline (Falkirk Council)
- open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm by phone: 0808 100 3161
- the team assists those who are most vulnerable in society as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who need help to access food, medicines/prescriptions and other essential services. This will be prioritised for those who have no other way to access these
- Self-Isolation Support Team (Falkirk Council)
- working alongside the existing Support for People helpline to provide support to those who need to self-isolate, with daily updates from Public Health Scotland’s Test and Protect, of people within the Falkirk Council area who have either tested positive for COVID-19, or been identified as a close contact of a positive test
- the team contact people on the list, by phone, to check they have support in place to allow them to self-isolate correctly and to check if they are eligible for the £500 self-isolation support grant
‼️ Please note: advice to self-isolate due to COVID-19 does not apply if you need to escape from domestic abuse. Many pharmacies have safe spaces where you can get information about support and make calls – find pharmacies within 10 miles of Falkirk town centre offering safe spaces on the UK Says No More website. (Press the “ESC” key at any time for a quick escape from the page.)
- Domestic Abuse: Local Support
Domestic abuse, also called domestic violence or gender-based violence, includes physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse in couple relationships or between family members. Domestic violence can happen to anyone.
If your situation at home is not safe or you are worried about you or your family’s safety, you do not have to wait for an emergency situation to find help. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it’s important to tell someone and remember you’re not alone – even during the holidays.
Christmas can be a difficult time for people, with heightened emotions and a sense of disconnect from the normal schedule (including support options). While domestic abuse unfortunately happens all year round (something we have seen amplified throughout COVID-19 and various lockdowns), incidents can often rise over Christmas, made worse by the different service hours and pressures of the season.
We want to make sure everyone in an abusive situation knows where to find support this winter, and we created a new, dedicated page full of local support for anyone who needs it across the Falkirk District: Wellness in Winter: Domestic Abuse.
To talk about your situation in more detail, contact Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline (SDAFMH) at any time, 24/7/365, by phone: 0800 027 1234, online web chat, or email: email@example.com
In an emergency situation, if you can, please contact Police Scotland by phone immediately: 999.
- Scam Alert: Omicron PCR Phishing Emails
Police Scotland has issued a Scam Alert on Omicron variant PCR test phishing emails.
The fake email encourages the recipient to click a link to a fake site, to apply for a free Omicron testing kit from the NHS. Once the recipient opens the link, the fake site asks for the recipient to upload their personal data, and in some cases asks for a small fee to be paid.
The NHS will never ask for money to send COVID-19 testing kits.
For full information on the scam, please view the web article.
- “Rethink Your Drink” 2021 Safety Campaign
NHS Forth Valley and their partners are running their festive alcohol safety campaign, “Rethink Your Drink”, throughout December again this year.
The campaign’s advice includes not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week (spread over at least 3 days), not mixing alcohol with medication, and drinking plenty of water. It also recommends trying to have days without alcohol, and highlights how important it is to recognise when you tend to drink more.
For pregnant people, zero alcohol is the safest option.
For further information, including support and advice on alcohol during COVID-19, and on recovery during the festive period, visit the full web article.
- Keeping Safe Online Checklist
In conjunction with Police Scotland, Get Safe Online have produced an Online Safety Checklist to keep people and families safe over the festive season.
The checklist offers a range of safety points, including online shopping, scams, protecting children, and video calls, amongst others.
To view or download the checklist, or for further information, please view the full article.
- Fraud and Financial Crime
‼️ All reports of fraud and any other financial crime should be reported to Police Scotland by phone: 101. ‼️
Anyone travelling by car at all during the winter months should make sure they are prepared for a breakdown; the AA has an online checklist on how to build your own winter survival kit for your car. They have also provided tips on driving safely in snow and ice, which may be especially useful for those living in the more rural areas of Falkirk, and other winter driving advice.
The winter survival checklist split into two sections: Winter Car Essentials and Winter Car Emergency Kit.
Winter Car Essentials
- ice scraper and de-icer (if you don’t remove snow and ice properly, you risk 3 points on your licence and a £100 fine)
- torch and spare batteries
- a fully charged mobile phone
- an in-car phone charger or power pack
- sat-nav or a printed route for an unfamiliar journey
- a road atlas
- first aid kit
- empty fuel can
Winter Car Emergency Kit
- warm clothes and waterproofs
- sturdy footwear
- a flask of hot drink
- hi-vis jacket
- warning triangles
- jump leads
For further information (including where to access these items), please visit the AA website.
Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) Forth Valley, Strathcarron Hospice, and FoodTrain have recently launched a new Winter Pressures project, in order to help support NHS Forth Valley through the winter.
The project is supported by Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), and Clackmannanshire and Stirling HSCP; its person-centred focus aims to put control and choice in the hands of the patient, tailoring support to the individual and their needs.
They are looking for volunteers to join them this winter, helping vulnerable people to get home safely, and with support, after a hospital stay.
For further information, including how to get involved, please view the full web article.
They are also looking to hear from any knitting groups who would be willing to create and donate hats, scarves and gloves for both men and women, in various sizes, to support people during hospital admissions and discharges within Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
If you would like to help us build this page or make us aware of anything you know going on, please contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can add your group or organisation’s details to our online directory of local initiatives (including food banks and other services responding to COVID-19), to help people support their local efforts and find the help they need. You can add your details via the online form (linked for your convenience), or by emailing us.