Date last updated: 30 November 2021

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.

You can also read:


For practical advice, you can contact our expert advisers on our Single Parent Helpline, you can find information on the opening hours here.

Please bear in mind that Gingerbread cannot provide medical advice. If you need medical advice you can:

Mask wearing

From 30th November 2021 onward, it will again be mandatory to wear a face mask in shops, on public transport, and in certain other public settings. You can find the full list of where you need to wear masks on, along with advice on how to wear a mask properly.

Secondary school pupils are strongly advised to wear masks in communal areas, as are staff and visitors at all schools and childcare settings.

Money, rent, and food

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.

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.

You can also apply for a Cold Weather Payment if you receive a benefit such as Universal Credit.

Please be aware that some news outlets have been reporting that there is a special DWP ‘Christmas payment’ available this winter. Unfortunately this is not true, as the ‘Christmas payment’ is a budgeting advance which you can normally apply for under Universal Credit. Budgeting advances work as loans that will have to paid back through deductions to your Universal Credit payments, so please consider carefully if this is suitable for you.

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.

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 in danger of eviction we recommend reading Shelter’s advice on evictions during coronavirus, as well as contacting Shelter as soon as possible.

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:

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.

Gingerbread groups

Gingerbread groups offer a chance for single parent families to support each other, meet new people, and share experiences.

Get in touch with your local Gingerbread group to find out about meeting arrangements. Many Gingerbread groups now use WhatsApp and Facebook as an alternative way for single parents to stay in touch with each other. You can also talk with other single parents online on the Gingerbread forum.

Single Parents Emergency Appeal

It’s tough being a single parent. The impacts of COVID-19 make it even harder than usual. Gingerbread is needed now more than ever. Visit our Just Giving page and donate today to support our #SingleParentsEmergency appeal.

Single Parents Emergency Appeal

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