Date last updated: 9 February 2022
Coronavirus Information for Single Parents
We know many single parent families are worried about the impact of the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, on their families. This page collects together information that is especially helpful to single parents.
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Please bear in mind that Gingerbread cannot provide medical advice. If you need medical advice you can:
- Read more about the symptoms of coronavirus and how to avoid it on the NHS website.
- If you are worried you have symptoms you can use the NHS 111 online service to seek help and further advice.
While wearing a mask is no longer required it is advised you wear one in crowded and enclosed spaces, such as public transport.
Your children can continue to move between your home and their other parents as long as it’s safe to do so.
If a member of either household has Covid-19 symptoms or had tested positive for the virus, then they should follow the NHS guidance on self-isolating. Your normal contact arrangements may need to stop temporarily while someone is self-isolating.
On 25th March 2021 we hosted a webinar on legal advice for single parents during COVID-19 pandemic”. The webinar offered specialist advice to help single parents navigate some of the key issues that have been affecting them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this advice is based on the Covid situation in early 2021, you may still find it helpful in answering some of your questions. You can watch a recording of the webinar here.
Money, rent, and food
Help from your council
If you’re struggling for money you may be able to ask your local council for help. You can find your local council using this tool.
The government is providing local councils in England with funding to support vulnerable households, known as the Household Support Fund. Every local council is using their funding in different ways, so what help is available will depend on your area.
You can use the Turn2Us Grants search tool to see if there are any grants you can apply for in your area.
Help If You’re Self-Isolating
If you live in England you might be able to get a payment of £500 if either:
- you have been told to self-isolate because of coronavirus (COVID-19) and you cannot work from home
- your child has been told to self-isolate and you need to take time off to look after them
This is known as the Test and Trace Support Scheme you can apply through your local council. This is sometimes also known as the self-isolation grant. Parents living in Wales should instead apply for the self-isolation support scheme.
If you don’t have enough food
If you do not have enough food, you may be able to get help from a food bank. Food banks provide a minimum of three days’ emergency food and support to people in crisis.
If your child is has to stay at home during the national lockdown and is normally eligible for free school meals, your child’s school should organise an alternative form of helping with meals. This help can come in one of 3 ways:
- providing food parcels from the school catering team or food provider
- providing vouchers for a local shop or supermarket
- using the Department for Education’s national voucher scheme, which will reopen shortly.
Help this winter
If you are on a low income, you may be able to get money off your electricity bill under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. This gives you a one-off discount on your electricity bill between October and March. A wide range of electricity suppliers are a part of the scheme. You should contact your electricity supplier to claim the discount.
If you can’t pay your rent
If you are having problems with your rent we recommend explaining the situation to your landlord straight away – they might give you more time to pay. You still need to pay your rent. If you’ve fallen behind with your rent you should start dealing with rent arrears. See our managing money and debt pages for more information, or call our free helpline.
If you are worried about losing your home, you should contact Shelter as soon as possible.
While there was previously a ban on evictions for people who could not pay their rent, this is no longer the case. From 1st October 2021, section 21 eviction notices must give you at least 2 months’ notice to leave. If you are behind on rent, you could be given just 2 weeks notice.
Topping up pre-pay energy meters
If you are self isolating and need to top up an energy prepayment meter you can self-refer to the NHS volunteer teams and someone will go and top up for them. Contact 0808 196 3382 or speak to your energy supplier.
You may also want to consider switching to online top-up or switch to a cheaper prepayment tariff
If you are pregnant
If you’re pregnant and worried about coronavirus, you can read the NHS advice on coronavirus and pregnancy.
If are not working, you may be able to top up your income with Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance, or Universal Credit. You can find out more about these on our Money During Maternity page, or call our helpline for advice.
Looking after your mental health
The pandemic can lead to stressful situations, such as having to self-isolate or feeling anxious about being in crowded spaces. It is important to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health.
We’re all getting used to living with the coronavirus, it’s okay to avoid activities that make you feel uncomfortable. At the same time, try to limit how much you watch the news or go on social media as this can be stressful and cause a lot of anxiety.
At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact a helpline for emotional support.
It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. It will help to stay as active as you can. There are simple things you can do to that may help, such as:
- Try easy exercises you can do at home. You can find a list of these on the NHS website.
- Spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to/watching favourite radio or TV programmes.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.
- Keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden. You can also go for a walk outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others.
Here are some helpful sources of advice for help with your wellbeing:
- You can read general advice on the mental health section of our website.
- Every Mind Matters by the NHS has advice on looking after you and your family’s wellbeing during the coronavirus situation.
- Mind has has advice on looking after your wellbeing during the pandemic.
The Help Hub is a group of qualified therapists who are giving their time freely to help people in your situation. You can book a 20 minute chat on Skype, FaceTime or on the telephone. Please be aware the service is in high demand.
Talk to other single parents
It can be helpful to talk with other single parents who are having the same kind of problems because of Covid as you are.
Gingerbread groups offer a chance for single parent families to support each other, meet new people, and share experiences. Many Gingerbread groups now use WhatsApp and Facebook as an alternative way for single parents to stay in touch with each other.