COVID-19: Accessing Services

In response to COVID-19, most healthcare services are experiencing limitations and it might be harder than normal to access sexual health and substance use services.

Updated: Wednesday 25th March

Accessing HYP Services

Until further notice, we will be carrying out telephone consultations leading to face to face appointment only where required . If clients arrive at a clinic without an appointment our staff will arrange an alternative time for them to return.

Please do not visit our services if you have been diagnosed with, or are experiencing symptoms of, COVID-19. During this time, we will be offering phone consultations where possible.

Due to building regulations, drop ins on Mondays and Thursdays at Cambridge House will not be running, but we can arrange to see you by appointment only. 

For all other enquiries please email southwark@brook.org.uk. For any urgent enquiries please call:

Miranda McWhan, Nurse Manager: 07979247941

Jack Kirby-Lowe, Service Manager: 07920465048

Marquella Wilson, Substance Misuse Team Leader: 07741661518

Pippa Tilley, Clinical Nurse Specialist: 07771390729

Services within schools will likely be affected as a result of school closures. However, our teams will be contactable by telephone and email. We will still be accepting referrals as usual, though there may be some delay on replies whilst our service is limited.

 

LOOKING AFTER YOUR SEXUAL HEALTH WHEN SERVICES ARE LIMITED

To keep yourself safe we recommend:

  • Practise safer sex – use a condom! Condoms are the only method of contraception that also protects you from STIs. You can get them in pharmacies, supermarkets and online. There are often options to get condoms for free if you are under 25, but if not you can buy them for as little as 99p.
  • Make sure you have enough contraceptive pills. If you use the contraceptive pill (or patch or ring) check now how many you have left and contact the place you get it from as soon as possible if you think you might run out in the next week or two. If you do run out, make sure you have another method of contraception available.
  • Don’t delay emergency contraception. If you think you need emergency contraception, do not delay seeking help. If you have been instructed to self-isolate or have COVID-19 symptoms, call you nearest sexual health service for guidance on how to access emergency contraception.

Check out the sections on our website for information and guidance on sexual health, relationships, substance use, wellbeing and loads more.

EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION

If you need emergency contraception, you should not delay as it is only effective for a short period of time after unprotected sex. The method of emergency contraception you use will depend on how long ago you had unprotected sex. More information about the different types of emergency contraception and how they work.

Emergency contraception is available from HYP services (please call for an appointment), other sexual health services and pharmacies and is often free for under 25s.

If you are 18+ you might be able to order the emergency contraceptive pill (“morning after pill”) from Fettle or Superdrug. (Please note: these are paid-for services).

STI TESTING

If you don’t have any symptoms but have had unprotected sex and want an STI test, you might be able to order one online and have it sent to your home to complete and return.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an STI, it is important that you see a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment. This could be an HYP service (please call for an appointment), another sexual health service, or a GP.

REPEAT CONTRACEPTION – PILL, PATCH AND RING

If you will run out of your pill, patch or ring in the next week or two, contact the place you get it from now to find out how you can get more. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Brook services (please call to discuss), GPs and other sexual health services can all prescribe the pill.

If you do run out, use an alternative method of contraception. We recommend condoms – they’re easy to get and also protect against STIs.

If you are 18+ you might be able to order contraceptive pills from Fettle (also have the patch and ring) or Superdrug. (Please note: these are paid-for services).

ABORTION SERVICES

If you are pregnant and you need to access abortion services, you can call HYP, another sexual health service or a GP for guidance on referrals and what steps you should take at this time.

You can also contact:

HIV AND COVID-19

Please see information about HIV and COVID-19 and accessing PEP from the Terrance Higgins Trust.

 

SUBSTANCE USE WITHIN THIS TIME

The way you get help from your service is likely to change for a while, but please know that our workers are still here for you. You can still contact us if you need any information or support.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CAN’T CONTACT MY RESISTANCE WORKER?

Please call one of the phone numbers listed above, and another member of staff will be able to help you.

WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE THE RISK OF ME CATCHING CORONAVIRUS WHEN DRINKING OR TAKING DRUGS?

  • Wash your hands all over for at least 20 seconds. Use soap and water or hand sanitiser. Do this after coming into contact with anyone, after handling money and before you handle, prepare or take drugs.
  • Prepare your own drugs. Wipe down drug packages or wraps with alcohol-based cleansers (at least 60% alcohol concentration).
  • Keep your surfaces clean – wipe them down before and after use, with a disinfectant cleaner or disinfectant wipes.
  • Avoid sharing any equipment:
    • Drinking: drink out of your own glass or bottle
    • Snorting: use your own straws – don’t use notes or keys
    • Smoking: use your own pipes – don’t share cigarettes, roll-ups, vapes or foil
    • Injecting: use your own needles and spoons

WILL CORONAVIRUS AFFECT THE DRUGS I USE?

As coronavirus has affected global movement, we’re expecting some changes to drug supply. You might find that the drugs you pick up are a different strength or purity. This means that there might be a chance the drugs you take are not what you are expecting. Please be careful.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I CAN’T ACCESS ALCOHOL?

You might be worried about getting support if you have an alcohol dependency. If you are dependent on alcohol and you stop drinking suddenly, it can cause extremely harmful withdrawal symptoms. A member of our team can help you stay safe, so please contact us.

OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES

  • Narcotics Anonymous: Support for anyone with an additions to drugs. Helpline open 10am-midnight every day. Call 0300 999 1212. Online meeting are available https://ukna.org/.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: Support for anyone with an additions to alcohol. Helpline open 10am-10pm every day. Call 0800 917 7650. Online meetings are available https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/.
  • Cocaine Anonymous: Support anyone struggling with a cocaine problem. Helpline open 10am-1pm every day. Call 0800 612 0225. Online meetings are available https://cocaineanonymous.org.uk/.
  • Breaking Free Online: Free, online treatment and recovery program for anyone addicted to alcohol or drugs https://www.breakingfreeonline.com/.
  • Drugfam: Support for families, friends and partners affected by someone else’s addiction to drugs or alcohol. Open 9am to 9pm every day. Call 0300 888 3853.

 

MENTAL HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

If you or someone you know needs help right now, you should, if possible, try to talk to a parent, carer or trusted adult. If that’s not possible, there are other sources of help and support:

  • Samaritans: someone to talk to about whatever you are going through. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123.
  • Childline: a huge range of free support, guidance and activities for under 18s, including a free phone helpline on 0800 1111 and 1-2-1 counsellor chat.
  • YoungMinds – crisis messenger: text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger, for free 24/7 support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis. You just text YM to 85258. There are also details of other sources of help and support on their website.
  • On My Mind – urgent help: a list of organisations offering mental health help and support collated by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. On My Mind also has ideas for self-care and a directory of mental health services.
  • Mind has a page about coronavirus and your well-being.
  • The Mental Health Foundation has advice for looking after your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.
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