Advice NI urge people advised to ‘shield’ due to the pandemic to take action now to avoid missing out

Almost 100,000 people with underlying diseases or health conditions received a ‘shielding’ letter advising that the safest course of action was to stay at home and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least twelve weeks.

Some of these people availed of the food box scheme which was part of the emergency response programme put in place by the Department for Communities, local councils, health trusts and local voluntary and community organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others registered for a priority online supermarket delivery slot via NI Direct.

Due to easements in the shielding guidance, there are important developments taking place on 31st July in relation to both these important mitigation measures:

  • For those who are shielding and receiving a food box, the food box scheme ends on 31st July;
  • The facility for any new registrations for priority online supermarket delivery slots will be withdrawn on 31st July;

Advice NI would strongly urge anyone who received a shielding letter to carefully consider their position regarding accessing food and avail of the ‘window of opportunity’ to register for priority online supermarket delivery slots.

Bob Stronge, Advice NI Chief Executive said:

“Although we know letters have been issued to those who received food boxes advising of these changes, we do not want anyone to miss out due to lack of awareness of these important developments that will take place in a matter of days. Whilst the food box scheme has been a vitally important lifeline for many people advised to shield, there is now the opportunity to access priority supermarket delivery slots and people who are still vulnerable should register via NI Direct.

If anyone needs help and support, please ring the Covid19 Community Helpline 0808 802 0020.”


  1. For further information contact Kevin Higgins, Head of Policy, Advice NI on 02890 645919
  2. Advice NI is the umbrella body for the Independent Advice Network in Northern Ireland and its members dealt with 404,594 enquiries in 2018/19, the majority being social security benefits related. The Covid19 Community Helpline delivered by Advice NI has answered over 20,000 calls since it was established at the end of March 2020.
  3. To find out more about the work of the Independent Advice Network or to obtain copies of the various publications produced by Advice NI, please contact us on 028 90 645919, email or visit our