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If like me you are housebound and high risk due to chronic illness, and you rely on supermarket deliveries, or maybe you live with someone who is vulnerable and you don’t want to risk picking up COVID-19 by going to actual shops, you have probably found the last few weeks very frustrating. There are just no delivery slots available. 

When Boris Johnson announced the UK lockdown, he told everyone to use delivery services for grocery shopping rather than visiting the shops, where possible. I believe this was irresponsible advice as it didn’t take into account that supermarkets couldn’t possibly satisfy this demand, and the disabled community are the ones that have suffered. 

Many of us have relied on deliveries for years. We are loyal, but vulnerable customers who have been abandoned by the supermarkets at a time when we need them the most. Yes, if you are on the government’s extremely vulnerable list you should now have access to priority booking, but there are thousands of us that don’t qualify. What are we supposed to do? 

In the search for an answer I have discovered a few alternatives, along with some tips on how to feed yourself and your family at this stressful time. I would like to share these with you now. 

1. Join your local COVID-19 mutual aid group

Firstly, if you haven’t done so already please find your local COVID-19 mutual aid group, or join your local Facebook or WhatsApp group.

Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK is a group of volunteers supporting local community groups organising mutual aid throughout the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK. They focus on providing resources and connecting people to their nearest local groups, willing volunteers and those in need.

I have found my local Facebook group extremely helpful, with lots of advice, information and offers of help. We share information about local suppliers, help available and also when supermarket delivery slots become available. It’s also a great way to connect with people in your area and make friends. 

2. Emergency food parcels – Contact your local council

If you are desperate for food, please don’t struggle. All Councils have set up emergency coronavirus support programmes. If you are vulnerable (you don’t have to be on the extremely vulnerable list) and are unable to get food due to accessibility or cost issues, they can provide emergency food parcels. Please click here to find out more. 

They also have council volunteers who can help with shopping and picking up prescriptions where needed. Please note these volunteers are not allowed to enter your home, but they can leave items at your doorstep. 

3. Ask friends, family or neighbours 

It may be worth talking to your friends and family to see if any of them are able to shop for you. They may already be going shopping anyway, so picking up a few extra items for you could be easy for them. If friends and family cannot help, why not ask your neighbours? There is a colour coded system in place: A red card in your window denotes you are not OK and you need emergency help – a yellow card means you need less immediate help. Or you may be able to connect with a neighbour who can help in your local COVID-19 mutual aid group. 

4. Try a delivery slot checker app

Rather than having to regularly check each supermarket in turn for available slots, you can use an App like Shopping Slots to check the four main supermarkets. It checks both delivery slots and Click and Collect.

You can also check available slots at your local Asda store with this App. If you sign up you will be notified when slots become available. 

5. Local independent shops are now offering delivery services

Aware of the demand, local smaller independent shops have started delivery services. I think this is a great option as you can not only get the groceries you need, but you can also support your local businesses. 

Shopappy allows you to search local small businesses, many of which offer delivery services. It’s not available everywhere but it may be worth having a look. Also check your local COVID-19 mutual aid group or local media to find suppliers.

Local food drops is another website with a directory of local suppliers offering delivery services.

6. Check local news for support groups in your area

Each area will have specific groups set up to help during this crisis. 

As an example, my local newspaper has written an article Here to Help directory: Where you can find support during coronavirus lockdown’. It details local charities who can offer help, and local suppliers who deliver. 

7. Deliveroo now delivers groceries 

You may be familiar with Deliveroo as a service to provide deliveries from restaurants and takeaways in your area. But they have recently started delivering grocery shopping from Morrisons and Co-op (and M&S petrol station stock). This service isn’t available everywhere but new areas are being added daily. There is a delivery charge but the cost of the goods is comparable to the price in the supermarkets themselves, although the items offered are limited to ‘essential’ household items.

8. Order Morrisons on your Amazon Prime account 

If you are an Amazon Prime customer, you can now order Morrisons on Amazon Fresh. Delivery slots are limited due to high demand but it’s definitely worth a try if you are already a Prime member. You can also order groceries from Amazon Pantry or search groceries as usual, but I find the products available can be limited. 

Bonus Tip: Morrison’s Essential Boxes: I was unsure whether to include these Morrison’s boxes as many people have told me they have been unable to order them. But availability seems to be getting better, so it may be worth trying. 

These boxes offer a range of essential products. You can choose from different options including meat or vegetarian groceries, together with household essentials. These boxes offer a convenient option and can be ordered using this link. A gluten free version has also been added.

9. Use Click and Collect services

If you have someone who is able to collect your shopping for you, Click and Collect may be a good option. It allows you to place your order online, but it also means they do not have to queue ages to get into a supermarket, and this service also limits exposure to other people. Please note that this service can be just as popular as deliveries and you may have to search for a while to get a slot. 

10. Try one of the smaller supermarkets or convenience store chains

The main four supermarkets are all currently fully booked for their delivery service (at the time of writing this post), but some of the smaller chains have availability.

The supermarket Iceland is offering delivery slots. Although the products available at Iceland are more limited than other supermarkets, they do appear to regularly have delivery slots available. If you have a store near you they may be a good option, even if it’s just for the basic essentials to keep you going.

If you already have an account with Ocado, even if you don’t regularly use them for your main grocery shop, they do appear to have delivery slots available too. They are, however, prioritising delivery for existing customers and therefore not accepting new customers for online shopping. I think this is the correct decision, and I personally wish other supermarkets looked after their loyal customers this way.

Appy Shop is another way to find stores delivering right now, near you. I found a selection of convenience stores including Costcutters, Budgens, Londis and Spar all offering deliveries or click and collect in my area. 

11. Keep searching for slots – don’t give up

If like me you have multiple food intolerances, many of these options may not be suitable for you. I rely on specific products which are just not available at smaller independent shops. My advice here would be to keep searching for supermarket delivery slots, but try searching regularly at different times of the day. Also, you could get together with friends who are also searching – multiple eyes are better than one.

I now have a delivery slot myself with Tesco after weeks of searching. They released a lot of slots early Sunday morning for the following week, so this may be a good time to search. I have also been informed that Asda often release slots at 10pm, although it may be worth logging on 10 mins before as there is likely to be a queue.

12. Follow me on Twitter (@JourneyFog) 

My Twitter followers, after hearing all the problems I have been facing getting a supermarket delivery slot, are now keeping an eye out for me and letting me know when new slots are released. I will be tweeting this information when I get it, so please follow me to keep up-to-date.

Final thoughts

There is a much wider problem here, which I will probably write about in more detail in a future post.  The whole situation regarding disabled, chronically ill and high risk people being denied a service that they have relied on for years, is inexcusable. I know many in our community are angry and feel badly let down by companies they have supported for years. Yet again we have been abandoned and left to fend for ourselves.

But sadly, as a community we are used to our needs being ignored – we are used to being treated as an afterthought, or as second class citizens. I know the supermarkets are under a lot of pressure, but there will be many questions to answer once this crisis is over.

I hope these tips are helpful. Please comment below if you have further advice to add.

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