Category Archive News

Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Each suicide is a tragic event which has a devastating impact on the friends and family of the victim, and can be felt across the whole community. While the events and circumstances leading to each suicide will be different, there are a number of areas where action can be taken to help prevent loss of life.

The Kent and Medway Suicide Prevention Strategy (2015-2020) recommends that as many people as possible are trained in mental health and suicide prevention training.

Course outline:

introduction to Adverse Childhood Experiences

understanding self-harm

suicide awareness

helpful strategies and support

The workshop is suitable for anyone interested in the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. This includes people who work or volunteer with children and young people, as well as individuals / parents who want to learn more about how to support children and young people in a personal capacity.

Key outcomes for this workshop include:

increased awareness of suicide prevention in children and young people

increased confidence to reduce suicide risk

increased awareness of support services (via pose-course information provided)

To see what dates are available and to book click here

Hate crime digital surgeries

Kent police will be running a Hate Crime Surgery online via the Police Live-chat facility for residents of Maidstone and surrounding villages/wards, the first event being 29th July. Hate Crime is likely to go unreported to some extent and that victims will not always feel confident in speaking either in person or on the phone.  Whilst this is not a Crime reporting avenue, this is a new initiative and is an opportunity for victims of Hate Crime, whether reported or not, to have a real-time online conversation, seek support, guidance or any questions or concerns and also those who have questions who have not been a victim.   Hate crime comes in many forms – Disability, Sexuality, Gender, Age, Race, Religion. See the poster below for more details.

Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind Are Changing to Mid Kent Mind

Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind are excited to share that, as an organisation, we are entering the next stage of our growth – with an upcoming rebrand to Mid Kent Mind designed to better reflect the areas where our support will be available.
As of next week we will begin to change our Social Media and online presence to reflect this next stage in growth for our organisation. Please rest assured that we are the same organisation, and will continue to offer the same level of support we always have – but we will just be doing this as a name which better encompasses all of the areas where we offer support.
We are excited to embark on this new stage in our organisation’s journey, and we look forward to continuing to work with our many partners, colleagues and supporters in the future.

Recalibrate Wellbeing Programme

Have you been taking time recently to reflect on your health? Are you looking to make long term changes to your health and lifestyle? Golding Homes and Wellbeing People are sponsoring 24 local residents to enrol in this life changing 12 week health coaching programme.

To apply for one of the *24 places all you need to do is complete this Expression of Interest form.

Sponsored places open to both men and women of all ages.

Attend a weekly 60 minute online, small group coaching session with 5 others via Zoom.

Focus on a different goal each week to implement small progressive changes.

Wellbeing topics covered include motivation, sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress, hydration and much more.

Self-reflection and “progress not perfection” is the motto throughout the course.

First courses begin mid June and there is no cost to participants with each place being sponsored.

*Preference will be given to Golding Homes tenants.

The Life Café @ Fusion Maidstone Healthy Living Centre

Offering support to the vulnerable, elderly and self-isolating members of the community in the Park Wood area, includes delivering cooked meals and food parcels to families whose children are on the free school dinner’s register, to ensure they have enough to eat at this challenging time

Referrals can be made via Fusion Maidstone on 01622 691177, email via

Couch to 5K

One You Couch to 5K is a 9 week running programme via smartphone app that can encourage even complete beginners to become more active, by making it easy and fun. Starting by running for just a minute at a time, the programme sets realistic expectations and makes the challenge feel achievable from the start. The app has also been updated to link to the latest advice on social distancing guidelines when exercising. To find out more click here

Coronavirus testing

An overview of the NHS test and trace service, including what happens if you test positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19), or have had close contact with someone who has tested positive. Click here for more information

if you want to know if you are eligible for a test and how to get tested click here.

Stay Alert Stay Safe

Mental Health Awareness Week

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 18-24 May 2020. The theme this year is kindness. through out the week different organizations will be running various courses. Click on the mental health awareness week on the menu above to see what is being offered this week. you can also go to the mental health awareness week website here for more information and resources as well to find out how to get involved yourself throgh setting up online quizzes, tea and talk etc. you can also look at the free supporter pack which you cna dowbload below.

Kent safe havens

New services available from 20th April 2020 across Kent and Medway.

Mental health is something that affects us all and it can be really hard to know where to go for advice and support, a listening ear, and professional help that’s available immediately without long waiting lists. That is where we come in!

Mental Health Matters is a national charity that is passionate about supporting people with mental health and emotional welfare needs.

Across Kent and Medway 4 Safe Havens are opening in Canterbury, Maidstone, Thanet and Medway on 20th April 2020!

These are a safe place where people aged 16+ can access immediate support if they are feeling distressed, frightened, overwhelmed, feel like things are getting too much for them, perhaps feel suicidal or thoughts of hurting themselves, maybe they’re isolated or are in crisis.

The great thing about the Kent Safe Havens is that it is free, there’s no referral needed, it is easily accessible, the staff are very skilled and experienced, they offer a welcoming, safe, comfortable, non-judgemental and non-clinical environment. Kent Safe Havens are an out of hours service meaning we are available on evenings for people needing to access support with their emotional wellbeing and mental health needs through visiting the Safe Haven, calling or emailing us.

Kent Safe Havens offering support to more people, helping the wider community:

[Due to COVID-19 we have unfortunately had to reduce the service we are able to currently offer – therefore we are only able to provide telephone and email support at this present time. We hope to be able to provide face-to-face sessions again in the near future.]

Canterbury Safe Haven
Open 6pm-11pm every day of the year | 07876 476703 | 07483 163953
Maidstone Safe Haven
Open 6pm-11pm every day of the year | 07484 061684
Thanet Safe Haven
Open 6pm-11pm every day of the year | 07850 655877
Medway Safe Haven
Open 6pm-11pm every day of the year | 07850 901151 | 07808 795036

Covid-19 NHS Guidelines in Over 40 Languages

Doctors of the World are really pleased to be able to share with you Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for patients in over 40 languages, which were produced in partnership with the British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice.

The guidance is based on the government’s updated advice and health information. We really hope it will help to ensure this important guidance reaches migrant and asylum-seeking communities in the UK.

Please visit this website to view the NHS Guidelines

Autism, ADHD and Learning disability advice

Autism advice

Autistic children and young people may struggle to identify any physical symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as having difficulty talking about the emotions the situation will create. Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour which may help you to identify their emotional state, as well as physical symptoms.

There is going to be disruption for all of us during the pandemic, for example it will not be possible to follow normal routines, or visit older family members. If your child or young person becomes ill, they may struggle to manage the physical experience. You can help to manage these changes using any strategies that you know work for your family, or see sources of further advice and support at the bottom of this section.

It is important to be honest when communicating with your child or young person about the changing situation, measures they can take to stay safe, and the symptoms of the virus. Try to avoid giving definitive statements about the future – this is a rapidly developing situation and your child or young person may be more distressed if things change when they were told they would not. Keep up to date with official information about coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should continue to access support of local autism groups online or via phone. The National Autistic Society guidance on managing anxiety might also be helpful – you can call the Autism Helpline on 0808 800 4104 for further advice.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.

Please find attached A Handbook for families – Information on autism and ADHD in children. Until service resumes as normal after the coronavirus response, some of the services will be operating differently to the information in the booklet. After the response has concluded, we expect it to be correct.”

The national autistic society has a page specifically dealing with coronavirus which can be found here

Face coverings on public transport

You may have seen that the Government made face coverings mandatory on public transport from 15th June, and operators are able refuse travel or issue penalty fines for those who fail to wear a face covering. The requirements are set out in the regulations, which also include exemptions.

Arriva has published guidance on its website on social distancing on its buses, including exemptions for wearing face coverings. They have also produced assistance cards and face covering exemption cards which can be downloaded here.

Photosymbols have produced cards which can be downloaded and printed off or simply used on a phone and shown to bus drivers etc for those who don’t have access to a printer. Please see this link to these resources on the KeepSafe website.

Clear information

A plain English 4-pager from NDTI on the virus, rules on going out, & supporting an autistic person

A blogpost with 20 tips, including on how to not overwhelm autistic people with information.


A YouTube video by PurpleElla on tips with how to cope during the pandemic if you are Autistic.

Social stories to help convey information

A social story about coronavirus by Carol Gray

A social story about keeping healthy and fighting germs from National Autistic Society

Mental health advice on dealing with anxiety during the pandemic and keeping mentally well (useful for us all!)

Coping with uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic from Autistica (Autism-specific)

A few techniques for managing anxiety during this time from Anxiety UK (general advice)

There is a free Calm Pack now available for families. This pack is full of activities and exercises to help families come together to feel safe and calm during this difficult time.

Learning disability advice

Children and young people with learning disabilities can feel a loss of control in times of uncertainty such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They may need more support or adapted explanations about the outbreak. See the easy-read coronavirus (COVID-19) guide to looking after your feelings and your body for ideas.

A good way to help them could be by supporting their decisions, representing choices visually through written words, pictures, symbol systems or objects if helpful, supporting them to express their emotions and letting them know they are not alone. While listening, take their feelings seriously and don’t judge their emotions. They may feel anxious about big changes, such as the possibility of having to stay at home for a long period. Where possible, it can be helpful to explain any upcoming changes to routine and circumstances before they happen and help them to plan and come up with solutions, such as finding a hobby or doing exercises to relax and cope with anxiety.

For useful tips for talking about feelings, see Skills for Care advice. For further guidance on coronavirus (COVID19) for those with learning disabilities please see the Mencap website (includes easy read materials). BILD (the Learning Disability Professional Senate) have also published a collection of resources that may be useful to support families or carers of people with learning disabilities during the coronavirus restrictions.

If your child or young person has a specific health condition that requires them to leave the house to maintain their health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can if safe to do so. For example, if your child or young person requires specific exercise in an open space 2 or 3 times each day. This should ideally be in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional. Even in such cases, in order to reduce the spread of infection and protect those exercising, travel outside of the home should be limited, as close to your local area as possible, and you should remain at least 2 metres apart from anyone who is not a member of your household or a carer at all times.


A library of ready-to-use resources aimed at fulfilling all the special therapy and education needs of children and adolescents. It places particular emphasis on producing easy-to-use and visually appealing materials and content to meet the expectations of specialists, educators and parents. Click here for more inofrmation (note you will need to change curreny from USD to GBP)

Learning disability helpline

We support people with a learning disability and their families to make their lives better, please use the following link to access information: Learning Disability Helpline.

At the moment a lot of people are worried about coronavirus. We have been asked lots of questions about what coronavirus and the lockdown means for people with a learning disability, like:

  • Am I allowed out?
  • How often can I exercise?
  • How do I explain social distancing to my family member with a learning disability?
  • What do the Care Act easements mean for me?  

We have also been able to help some people with their concerns about the NICE guidelines and what would happen if they needed to go to hospital. There have been so many changes recently, but we have answers to many current questions.

You can also ask us questions about things that aren’t to do with coronavirus. We may be able to help you with questions about social care, money and benefits, the Mental Capacity Act (best interests, capacity decisions), health and assessments, and treatment units.

You can call the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111, we’re here from 9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. Or you can fill in our online form or email us at

Aspens Live Chat For Those Effected by Autism

Aspens Live chat is a free online service delivered by our team of specialist advisers.
We welcome adults and young people with autism spectrum condition, learning difficulties and complex needs. We welcome their families. We also welcome professionals and key workers who are supporting families and individuals living with any disability. For more information about Aspens and Live Chat, please visit

To ensure we can offer the best advice tailored to your needs we are offering a variety of sessions:
Adult Sessions:

  • Tuesday 6pm to 7.30pm
  • Thursday 10am-12pm

Family Support:

  • Monday 9.30am to 11.30am
  • Wednesday 9am-11am
  • Friday 12-2pm

Young People:

  • Monday 1pm-3pm
  • Wednesday 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm
  • Thursday 1pm to 2.30pm

Aspens Fest 2020

Aspens are organising a virtual weekend of activities and workshops on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th July, themed around transition tailored to parents, carers, siblings, children and young people with ASC, mental health difficulties and/or SEN.

Please the attached flyer for more details.

Kent Autistic Trust: Family Support Information Service

Please see the attached leaflet for the Kent Autistic Trust Family Support Information Service. 
This service provides information on autism related subjects, information on disability benefits, autism alert cards, support groups, training and more. 

Kent Autistic Trust are also providing support via Facebook.

For queries about support for adults and families, please contact and for queries related to children services please contact

Facemasks in shops and supermarkets from 24 July
The Government has introduced a requirement for people to wear facemasks in shops and supermarkets from 24 July 2020. Please find the latest Government guidance, including the exemptions here
Ambitious about Autism’s Right from the Start parent toolkit
This practical toolkit contains a wealth of straightforward information in one place to guide parents and carers through their child’s journey in the early years. From the autism assessment process to the first day of school, this toolkit is packed with practical tips and checklists to support parents during the earliest years of their child’s life. It also provides signposts to sources of support or additional information.
Although aimed at 0-5 year old’s there are aspects that can be applicable to older ages. To view the parent toolkit, please visit the website.
Know Your Normal Webinars
These webinars will be building upon the Know Your Normal research and toolkit to help bolster staff who will be supporting or seeing mental health difficulties in autistic people. This webinar would also be useful for adult services that support those 18+. You can find out more about Know Your Normal on their website

If you would like to receive the full fortnightly email digest, please contact

Coronavirus Round-up

Safe and Well telephone service

Involve have developed a Safe and Well telephone service, supported by Kent Fire and Rescue, which we are offering to our clients, patients at GP practices and anyone in the wider community who could benefit. The service is delivered by our trusted staff and volunteers, and provides advice, information, guidance and access to local support, including urgent collection of medication or food by the Fire service if needed. It will also make a regular friendly call to anyone who is coping ok with the essentials, but feeling lonely, anxious and worried.
If you would like to refer someone, please call us 0300 0810005 or email Please note, most of our staff are working at home, as per the guidance, and we have been very busy setting up this service and receiving referrals. If it takes a little longer to get through on the phone, please do be patient, keep trying, or leave us a message with all the info we need to make contact. Our staff at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospitals working in the Integrated Discharge Teams are still on site, and our Community Navigators are still home visiting to complete urgent assessments for community equipment, until we are advised otherwise.

Government Guidance for Schools, Colleges and Local Authorities

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing.  And the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.  It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.  Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.  Please read the full guidance on Childcare the gov website

Coronavirus Bill

The UK government’s coronavirus action plan, published on 3 March, set out measures to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak that are reasonable, proportionate and based on the latest scientific evidence. Specifically, it detailed:

what we know about the virus and the disease it causes; how we have planned for an infectious disease outbreak; what we are planning to do next, depending on the course the coronavirus outbreak takes; the role the public can play in supporting this response, now and in the future.

The plan also includes information on the government’s 4-stage strategy: contain, delay, research, mitigate. It sets out advice for how the public should respond in each stage, including what to expect as the outbreak advances.

It also envisaged that changes to legislation might be necessary in order to give public bodies across the UK the tools and powers they need to carry out an effective response to this emergency. This paper sets out, subject to final approvals, the elements of the bill and the reasons why they are needed.

The development of an effective response to the epidemic requires a number of actions. Some of these involve the use of tools and powers that are set out in statute. The governments of the UK therefore resolved to review and where necessary amend the legislation, to ensure that the UK’s response is consistent and effective.

Some of the proposed changes therefore deal with easing the burden on frontline NHS and adult social care staff, some help staff by enabling them to work without financial penalty, and some support people and communities in taking care of themselves, their families and loved ones, and their wider community.

The legislation will be time-limited – for 2 years – and not all of these measures will come into force immediately. The bill allows the 4 UK governments to switch on these new powers when they are needed, and, crucially, to switch them off again once they are no longer necessary, based on the advice of Chief Medical Officers of the 4 nations.

The measures in the coronavirus bill are temporary, proportionate to the threat we face, will only be used when strictly necessary and be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation.

We have worked closely with the devolved administrations to develop an effective package of measures to support frontline staff and individuals involved in this vital national response.  To read the Contents of the Bill, please visit the Gov. website

Carers UK Advice to Carers

We appreciate that this is a very concerning time for carers, with many worried about how coronavirus will affect their caring roles.

We’ve put together some guidance for carers which you can read at This includes guidance on being prepared for emergencies, protecting those you care for, and information for working carers.

We’ve also been working with Carers Trust to put out a joint statement on the virus, which you can read here: The statement sets out the central questions and concerns carers have around coronavirus, and how we believe services should be preparing. We’ve put this statement to Public Health England, NHS England, local authorities, government departments including the Departments for Health and Social Care, Work and Pensions, and Communities and Local Government, and will continue to put pressure on the government and health services to account for carers in their response to the virus.

Council Makes Senior Citizen Bus Passes Valid Before 9.30am

To support earlier shopping trips, an emergency and temporary measure will be implemented from Thursday 19 March 2020.

Any holder of an English National Concessionary Travel Pass (older persons bus pass or a disabled person’s bus pass) will be able to use their passes prior to 9:30am on any bus services provided by Stagecoach, Arriva, Nu-Venture, Autocar, Chalkwell and Go Coach at no charge.
Find more information on the KCC website.

Advice from Mind on Staying at Home
You might be worried about coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include being asked to stay at home or avoid other people.

This might feel difficult or stressful. But there are lots of things you can try that could help your wellbeing. Please visit the Mind website to see more information about how you can look after your wellbeing at this time and to plan for staying indoors or at home. 

NHS Apps Library
While Mental Health may be heavily affected for those who having to isolate during the Covid-19 outbreak, support can be found through the NHS Apps library.
If you know someone who could benefit from this kind of support, please share.

Free Resource from Calm
Without a doubt, many of us are feeling anxious as we navigate the uncertainty of COVID-19. We’re feeling it too, and we wanted to share some of the tools we’re using to take care of our minds and stay grounded. All of the resources on this page are free of charge — please share with anyone who might benefit.

Early Opening Times for Elderly and Vulnerable

Sainsbury’s Elderly-Only Shopping Time
From Monday 23rd March, our online customers who are over 70 years of age or have a disability will have priority access to online delivery slots. We will contact these customers in the coming days with more details.
For any online customer who can travel to our stores, from Monday 23rd March, we will operate an expanded ‘click and collect’ service. We are significantly increasing the number of collection sites across the country over the coming days in preparation for this. Customers can place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. We believe this will also work for people who are self-isolating.  As we work to feed the nation, we are also focusing all of our efforts on getting as much food and other essential items from our suppliers, into our warehouses and onto shelves as we possibly can. We still have enough food for everyone – if we all just buy what we need for us and our families.  Read the full update here.

Nationwide Early Opening Times for Elderly
We’re trialling new branch opening times during the coronavirus outbreak so that elderly and vulnerable people can manage their money in a safe environment with a dedicated hour each morning.  From Wednesday, March 18, more than 100 branches across the UK will open from 8am, instead of the usual 9am, in a trial to determine whether it is an effective way of providing support to people aged 70 and above and those with underlying health conditions at an uncertain time.  The arrangement will enable groups of people at highest risk from coronavirus to go about their day-to-day transactions with greater confidence and safety during the pandemic.

They will be able to use the facilities first, benefiting from enhanced cleaning that branches will undergo each evening, and before they open to the wider membership from their usual opening times.  See full article on the Nationwide website.

Marks and Spencer Early Trading for Elderly
From the 20th of March, the first hour of trading at Marks and Spencer will be devoted to older and vulernable customers, on Mondays and Thursdays.  Marks and Spencer will also be open for the first hour of trading on Tuesdays and Fridays NHS and Emergency workers.  See to find out local opening times of stores.  Please note this does not include franchise stores in petrol and railway stations.

Waitrose Community Support Fund and Early Opening for Elderly
First, Waitrose is creating a £1 million Community Support Fund to be used as direct aid for the communities you and our Partners live and work in. Your local store will have these funds to support their local area based on the needs of the community. 
Help will include setting up additional local delivery services to support people isolated in their homes; for delivering essential items to local care homes and community groups; and for donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours.   Waitrose stores will dedicate the first hour of opening as a priority shopping time for the elderly, the vulnerable and those who look after them. Our team is also looking into ways to support vulnerable customers who need food delivered to them.

Free Crafting Materials for Kids in Maidstone
Art of Mine pottery painting art studio have lots of craft materials which we are giving away to help keep you and the kids busy over the next few weeks. If you would like a bag of craft stuff please text us and we will leave one out for you.  Please text your name to 07792541149 and we will leave your bag in the entrance to the studio. The door will be opened so there is no need to come into contact with anything apart from your bag. Address is, Little Budds Farm, Coldblow Lane, Thurnham, Maidstone, Kent ME14 3LR

The Rubin Clinic @ Fusion Healthy Living Centre

The clinic will offer a skeleton service to vulnerable young people who need to be seen urgently.

If you have any urgent concerns then please contact The Rubin clinic between 8-10 am Monday-Friday on 01622 225713.

To order a free testing kit or for further information go to:

Hi Kent Hearing Aid Aftercare Clinic/COVID-19

We regret that, with immediate effect, we are suspending our service in most West Kent locations. This move is to safeguard our wonderful volunteers, as their wellbeing is our priority.

We are providing clients with batteries, tubes and domes as usual.

They can be collected from our Maidstone Centre

Hi Kent, Brewer Street, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1RU

Monday to Thursday 9am to 4pm

If you need new tubes and domes, bring the existing ones so we can identify them.

Alternatively, you can send your brown book and a

self- addressed envelope with a large letter stamp or two first class stamps on it. Or phone us and make a card payment to cover postage costs and we will send you the items you need – 01622 691151.

For actual repairs to hearing aids, please contact your provider.

Please check updates on our website ( and Twitter (@hikent_deaf). Batteries can be obtained from Hi Kent, – send your brown book and a SAE

(Large Letter or 2 first Class stamps) to

Hi Kent, Brewer Street, Maidstone, Kent ME14 1RU

or contact Audiology on 01622 226198

Advice for Self Employed

UPDATED: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to help Britain’s 6m self-employed get through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will offer a taxable grant of up to 80 per cent of a self-employed person’s income based on their taxable profits over the past three years, capped at £2,500 per month.

The scheme will only become available at the beginning of June and will have an initial three-month lifespan, to be reviewed.

And the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will only cover those who paid tax on trading profits of up to £50,000 of income in 2018-19.

HMRC will pay the single lump sum direct into people’s bank accounts.

Individuals should not contact HMRC now. Instead, HMRC will contact you directly, ask you to fill out an online form, and then pay the grant straight into your bank account.

The Treasury estimates that two-thirds of the roughly 6m self-employed will benefit from the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which it estimates will cost £9bn in its first three months.

Sunak claimed the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, which will cover up to 95 per cent of people who receive the majority of their income from self-employment, is “one of the most generous in the world”.

Sunak said: “I’m proud of what we’ve done so far, but I know that many self-employed people are deeply anxious about the support available for them … Despite these extraordinary steps, there will be challenging times ahead. We will not be able to protect every single job or save every single business.”

Self-Employed Income Support Scheme at a glance

  • Same level of support as PAYE employees who face redundancy because of coronavirus
  • Up to 80 per cent of typical earnings capped at £2,500 per month gross. Income tax and national insurance still payable
  • Open to anybody with income up to £50,000 according to their 2018-19 tax return
  • Money paid by HMRC straight into your bank account – no need to contact taxman
  • SEISS will only go live early June at earliest
  • Available to people who make the majority of income from self-employment
  • Only those who have – or are about to make a tax return for 2018-19 tax return – can apply

The coronavirus self-employed rescue package is based on Norway’s scheme, which pays self-employed people 80 per cent of their average earnings over the previous three-year period.

The self-employed make up 15 per cent of the UK workforce and represent a sector worth an estimated £305bn.

Britain’s self-employed are a disparate group.  Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that about a third had taxable income of less than £10,000, while a small number of high-earning partners in professional firms rank among the UK’s top 1 per cent by income.

Emma Jones, founder small business support network, Enterprise Nation, said: “There will be some casualties. Those that are new to self-employment for example and those that have mortgages and bills to pay before June.”

>See also: How to get the government’s £10,000 cash grant for small businesses

What do I do now?

  • Check your prior year tax returns to assess whether you are eligible on the majority trading and £50,000 trading profit conditions
  • Get your tax return for 2018/19 filed if you have not yet done so (by 23 April 2020)
  • Grants are expected to be paid out in June, so there may still be some concern around cashflow until the grant is paid, and this will need to be factored into your cashflow forecasts
  • Consider other help you may be eligible for as a self-employed worker
  • If you haven’t heard from HMRC in the next few weeks and you believe you are eligible then do make your application to HMRC for the grant. HMRC will be checking your eligibility against its records and there will certainly be some who are in danger of falling through the cracks

Emma Beynon, a tax consultant at Kreston Reeves, said: “Remember, this is not tax-free income. The payments will form part of your trading profit for the year and be taxed along with the rest of your trading profits through your Self-Assessment Tax Returns.”

What if I’m a self-employed contractor with my own company?

The Self-Employed Income support scheme does not cover the 1.8m who are owner-managers of their companies, paying themselves mostly through dividends.

Tim Stovold, head of tax at accountants Moore Kingston,  told the Financial Times that 400,000 paid themselves mostly dividends through personal service companies.

Brian Palmer, tax policy expert at the Association of Accounting Technicians, said: “There were also no crumbs of comfort for those who are self-employed from every perspective but provide their services through a limited company, many of whom draw a low salary and top up their income with dividends. They will not qualify as self-employed or for a significant payment from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Instead, they risk dropping through the cracks.”

Seb Maley, CEO of tax specialist for freelancers and contractors Qdos, added: “The chancellor may have delivered for millions of self-employed workers, but hundreds of thousands of genuinely self-employed individuals working through their own limited companies have been overlooked.

“Like employees, these people pay their tax, contribute billions to the economy and are helping the UK through this crisis. So it’s concerning that the Government has ignored them when it matters most.”

Beynon added: “Although taxpayers who trade through their own company may consider themselves self-employed, these measures do not extend to cover the shareholder directors of personal trading company. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme offers some cover to employees but directors are unlikely to benefit as they are central to the ongoing operation of the business.”

Treasury officials argue that is impossible to know whether the dividends came from the fruits of their work or from passive investments.

Also, the government believes that some self-employed contractors have been engaging in tax avoidance by setting up personal service companies and do not deserve support.

However, the Treasury suggests that self-employed contractors who work through personal service companies and pay themselves dividends could furlough themselves and apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Applying for Universal Credit in the meantime

The chancellor said that in the meantime self-employed workers can apply for Universal Credit, which has been temporarily increased to match levels of statutory sick pay (£94.25 a week) with the “minimum income floor” scrapped.

However those applying for Universal Credit for the first time will usually have to wait for five weeks to receive a pay cheque.

And any self-employed person with savings of £16,000 or more is not entitled to any support via Universal Credit so will have to wait until they have burned through their savings in order to qualify.

Prior to today’s announcement, the government pointed out that it had already strengthened “the safety-net for the self-employed” through delaying self-assessment tax payments due in July until January 2021.

Self-employed workers will also be able to claim business interruption loans worth up to £5m.

>See also: What coronavirus small business help is available for free?

Self-employed face tax hike

Rishi Sunak also hinted that the self-employed, who traditionally pay less tax than those under pay-as-you-earn (PAYE), will have to pay more tax once the crisis is averted.

The self-employed typically pay less in income tax and national insurance than PAYE employees because their bills are based on tax-deductible profits.  According to the Resolution Foundation a self-employed worker on £25,000 pays £300 a year less in national insurance than an employee on the same salary.

Until now the tax system has recognised that the self-employed have no paid holidays or job security, and so pay less tax as a result.

Sunak said the “very significant tens of billions of pounds” being spent to treat self-employed people the same way as employed people during this time of crisis “throws into light that inconsistency and whether that is fair going forward when we’re all chipping in together to right this ship afterwards”.

Emma Jones, founder small business support network, Enterprise Nation, said the chancellor’s words were “a warning shot that this will give the government a very good reason to change employment law and implement something similar to IR35 and other tax measures with renewed vigour as the self-employed, on this occasion, have asked to be treated in the same way as employees. If this applies to tax, there will be more changes ahead for the self-employed down the line.”

Infozone Vitual Youth Group

have set up a Virtual Youth Group on Facebook where we will have fun games and activities as well as still being able to offer information/advise and support in these difficult time. can either scan the QR code on the poster, search for InfoZone Virtual youth group on Facebook or follow this link

Virtual Job Shop

Golding Homes are working with West Kent Housing, Clarion and the DWP offering employment support such as job searching, updating CV’s and cover letters to the community by phone and email vitually by phone and email five days a week. for more details see the poster below.

Message from Helen Whately MP, Member of Parliament for Faversham and Mid Kent

The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. The Government has been clear that our number one priority is to protect life, and that our decisions will be based on the best available science. The coronavirus demands dramatic action and we are working tirelessly, in partnership with local councils, businesses, charities and other organisations, to ensure that people have the support that they need.

Please be assured that I will be continuing to work hard both locally and in Parliament to do everything I possibly can to protect and support people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and at risk. I would also strongly urge everyone to follow the advice issued by Government as we all have a vital part to play in battling the coronavirus. 

This is of course a very concerning time and there are still many unanswered questions. The situation is however moving extremely quickly and there have been significant developments. New measures and updated guidance will continue to be issued in the coming days and weeks. I have dedicated a page on my website where you can find the latest information: I have also included a number of links below that provide up-to-date information.

Health information and advice:

Government response:

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses:

Travel advice:

With my best wishes,


Coronavirus (COVID-19) extremly vunerable and shielding advice

if you have a medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19) or have recieved a letter or text message asking them to shield then please click here to to register. For example, you’ll be able to ask for help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food. If you’re not sure whether your medical condition makes you extremely vulnerable, register anyway. You can register yourself, or on behalf of someone else.

if you have been asked to shield for 12 weeks via letter or text message then you can find the governments guidance on shielding here and NHS england have produced a FAQ document which can be found here.

Fusion Maidstone – Updates 18th March 2020

Fusion Maidstone – Updates 18th March 2020

Fusion continues to be your local focal point for people self-isolating and experiencing some difficulty, please contact us on 01622 691177 where we will be on hand to offer advice.

Message from KCC Public Health:

We understand some members in the community have symptoms that MAY be due to coronavirus, and have been asked to self–isolate.  Self-isolation is an effective precautionary measure to protect those around you – your family, friends, colleagues. It means taking simple, common-sense steps to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible. We know it’s a stressful time, but taking these measures will help protect you, your family and all of the UK from Coronavirus.

  • NHS advice is anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.
  • If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
  • After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine

Staying at home may be difficult and frustrating, but there are things that you can do to help make it easier. These include:

  • plan ahead and think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 7 or 14 days
  • talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need to make your stay at home a success
  • think about and plan how you can get access to food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period
  • ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online, but make sure these are left outside your home for you to collect
  • make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
  • think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
  • many people find it helpful to plan out the full 14 days, such as on a make-shift calendar. You may also find it helpful to plan in advance what you will do if, for example, someone in the household were to feel much worse, such as have difficulties breathing
  • when you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses that can help you take light exercise in your home.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

BJM Article, ibuprofen warning to treat the symptoms of Covid – 19

  • Patients prescribed Ibuprofen for medical conditions by GP must continue to take it.  Self-medication for COVID-19 could cause complications.

Partners sessions:

  • Junior Youth Club – March 19th – cancelled due to shortage of staff.

Both Junior and Senior Youth Clubs will follow KCC guidelines and as long as schools remain open they will run but will be reliant on staff numbers.

COVID-19, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (Nurofen)

To read more about COVID-19, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen (which is either generically named or under the brand name Nurofen) please see this document below.

Fusion Closure Effective immediately. For all coronavirus news please see the coronavirus section above.

In light of the current situation surrounding COVID-19 and the advice from central government we have made the decision to close the café including the computer/printer services for the foreseeable future as our target audience are social groups and the vulnerable members of our community, just the demographics that the government is encouraging not to socialise. We appreciate the closure will have an impact on you and your family and we sincerely apologise for this and hope that you understand our need to adapt and be flexible to this rare and challenging situation.

We will keep in contact via social media and our website with any updates as the situation develops.   

In the meantime, if you have any concerns or require assistance please call Fusion on 01622 691177 and we will support you via telephone to the best of our ability.  If you feel ill and you would like to know what to do next please contact NHS 111.   

We wish you well in the present situation and thank you for your continued understanding. 

Fusion Maidstone 

New job hunting support

Both Golding homes and Clarion housing are running a new job hub inside The Mall Maidstone (formerly the Chequers centre) every Thursday morning between 10:00am to 12:00pm during term time. No appointment is necessary as it is drop in. Details are available below.

Mind the Knife

‘Mind the Knife’ Programme for Secondary School aged children

Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind are pleased to be partnering with Youth Resilience UK to deliver a brand-new programme in Maidstone, known as ‘Mind the Knife’.

The programme has been funded by the Home Office and the Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner and aims to look at the potential ties between knife crime and poor mental health.

Over the course of a five-week programme, young people will have the opportunity to explore practical ideas around how they can keep themselves safe without breaking the law. This will be combined with a resilience-driven focus, encouraging young people to build and develop positive coping strategies which help to boost both their self-esteem and confidence – leading to an improved self-image.

The programme will combine MMK Mind’s wellbeing and resilience focus with Youth Resilience UK’s specialist knowledge around knife crime – enabling the course to go more in-depth around particular problem areas which young people may encounter.

Two FREE five-week courses are available for members of the public. Both will begin on the 25th of February 2020, and will run from 10am till 11:30am, and from 12noon till 1:30pm. These hour and a half sessions will take place at Maidstone and Mid-Kent Mind’s office on College Road in Maidstone (ME15 6YH).

For more details, visit the following webpage:

Alternatively, you can E-Mail James Walker directly via

Amazon smile

Fusion has enrolled into the Amazon smile program. Amazon Smile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on Amazon Smile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. Just go here, login to you amazon account and search for Fusion Maidstone.

Maidstone Youth Wellbeing Cafe

Maidstone MIND is currently running at its main office on College Road every Wednesday a youth cafe for those aged 12 to 17. This cafe will provide any mental health needs to those within that age group. If you like to know more please read the poster below for all the contact details.

Kent Sheds

Are you over 18 and looking to learn new skills and make new friendships? Kent County council is running a initiative called Kent sheds which is part of the international men’s shed movement. Activities may include anything related to a shed such as metalwork, woodwork and others. If you like to be involved read the poster below for more information.

Weight loss Journey

Want to start the new year with a healthy new start? Looking to lose weight, quit smoking or cut back on alcohol as part of you new year resolution? One you Kent is a initiative with various programs run by Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council. Google one you Kent for more details on the initiative such as the free mobile app, various courses on weight loss, becoming smoke free etc.