Support available this Christmas - Tier 4 - Shielding - Testing

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Newsletter banner 2020

Message from the Mayor

As 2020 comes to an end, it seems appropriate to look back with pride at the incredible spirit of our borough this year in facing the challenges of Covid-19.

As a council we have stepped up to be there for our community and support our most vulnerable residents in need of help, information or support.

Please call us on 020 7364 3030 if you need to discuss self-isolation, food, medication, or debt.

Times are tough but as we enter 2021, we can be optimistic that the vaccine is on its way, but realistic that it will still be a while before we get back to anything normal - now is not the time to let our guard down.

The rate of infection is rising across London and in Tower Hamlets. It’s more important than ever that we wash our hands, cover our face and keep our distance from those not in our household or support bubble.

Please book a free test if you have symptoms and consider getting a test even if you feel well, as one-in-three people with the virus will not even know they have it.

We are now in Tier 4, which means you must stay at home and only leave with a ‘reasonable excuse’ - which includes for work or volunteering, to buy food or medicine, to obtain or deposit money, to access essential public services, to attend worship or to exercise. The ‘Christmas Bubble’, which meant up to three households could mix between 23-27 December has now been cancelled.

The Tiers will next be reviewed by government on Wednesday 30 December; to check the rules click here and enter your postcode.

Last week, Cllr Danny Hassell, Lead Member for Children and Families and I wrote to our staff in early years’ and schools to thank them for the work they have done this year, supporting our young people and being a vital part of our community response to Covid-19.

I’m pleased to say too, that working with our schools, the council has been able to distribute over 18,000 supermarket vouchers to children and families in our borough, so that no child goes hungry during the holidays.

Finally, I’d like to thank you, for doing your bit this year to keep Tower Hamlets Safe. If you’re celebrating Christmas, please do so safely. If you’re worried about a friend or neighbour, check in on them, and share what support is available from the council – which includes financial support, help with food and the latest news and information on Coronavirus.

Our borough is strong, resilient and supportive. Just like you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a brighter 2021.

Mayor Biggs

Box with food in

Accessing food support this Christmas

This Christmas, some of our borough's food banks will be closed or open for a limited time.

If in you are in need of support, we recommend calling ahead to understand when they will be open and possibly visiting sooner to stock up.

The following information details which are open and when.

New Belvedere House

Open for food distribution until 24 December; last delivery on 23 December. Distribution only for residents.

Dellow House

Open over Christmas, for residents only.

Our Forgotten Neighbours

Every Thursday including Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Canvas café

10am-6pm every day. This may be subject to change.

St Lukes

Open 22, 24 and 29 December; then closed 31 December and open from 5 Jan.

Women's Inclusive Team

Open every day including Christmas Day.

Weavers Community Forum

Open every Thursday 11.30am-2.30pm in December, including New Years Eve.

Bethnal green food bank (st matthew's)

Open every Wednesday 2pm-7pm.

Ensign youth club

Open 21, 22, 23 December; could open between Christmas and New Year.

Call ahead >

Tier 4 - Stay at Home

Tier 4 - 'Stay at Home'


Tower Hamlets, like the rest of London, is now under Tier 4 restrictions. Please keep yourself and your community safe and stay at home, unless it's for one the specific reasons set out by government

  • Stay at home except for food shopping, exercise, collecting prescriptions, medical appointments and essential work.
  • Don't travel to other areas to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
  • You can only meet a maximum of one person from another household outdoors at a safe social distance
  • Cafes, restaurants, bars, and pubs remain closed but can serve takeaway, click-and-collect and delivery orders
  • Personal care, hair and beauty salons are closed, along with tattoo, massage and spa venues
  • Entertainment venues, indoor attractions and leisure facilities are also closed
  • Places of worship remain open, but you must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside of your household or support bubble while you are there, unless a legal exemption applies. 

Tier 4 rules >

Support line

Support is available over the festive period

We know that vulnerable residents will continue to need help over the festive period. Remember our dedicated support line is available for anyone who is isolating because of Covid-19 and may need help accessing essentials such as food and medication.

Please contact us 020 7364 3030. There will continue to be help available on days when the council is closed.

Find out more >


Remember – get tested

It continues to be vitally important that anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss in or change to their normal sense of smell or taste) gets a test.

There is now additional mobile testing capacity in the borough and all appointments can be booked online or by calling 119.

We are also now offering asymptomatic testing for people, available at the Ecology Pavilion, Mile End Park, E3 5TW. The site is open 10am - 7pm. Please note that opening times / days may vary over the festive period so please check our dedicated testing page for more information. Remember anyone who tests positive, or who is in contact with a positive case must isolate.

Information about testing >

Covid vaccination

Elderly residents receive Covid-19 vaccine

Covid-19 vaccinations continue to be administered in Tower Hamlets. Led by the GP Care Group on behalf of GPs in the borough, the vaccine programme is currently targeting over 80 year olds.

Residents are reminded that when it is the right time, they will receive an invitation to come forward for vaccination. For most people this will be a letter, either from their GP or the national NHS. Please do not contact the NHS to ask about vaccination in the meantime.

Learn more >

Shielding in tier 4

Advice for clinically extremely vulnerable residents

Tower Hamlets, was placed into tier 4 of the alert system on 20 December. The government has announced that areas entering tier 4 (this includes London and Tower Hamlets) will have ‘shielding’ reintroduced. This is because cases are sharply rising in areas that have been placed into tier 4.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in tier 4 areas are advised to follow the national shielding guidance and local advice, which has been updated and published on the council website

Shielding advice >

Do not be lonely


As many people start to think about the Christmas break, there are many who struggle during this time of year.

This year, even more residents have been experiencing social isolation due to Covid-19.

As the winter chill sets in, it is important to not only look after your own health but to also check in our friends, family and neighbours especially those who may be vulnerable at such a difficult time.

Read more on how to stay safe and warm over the winter months and information on further support services available.

See our tips >

Dancing shoes

Get your dancing shoes on for our online tea dance

This year, we’ve created an online tea dance for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy from the comfort of home.

There’s plenty of time between now and 17 January to get your dancing shoes on and move to the music of the Sunshine Kings in your living room.

Catch our regular jazz and swing band playing a selection of classics and old favourites with dancing led by Tony Laine. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity to dress up for the occasion and quick step into the spirit of the season. Don’t forget your mince pies and a cup of tea.

Tune in >

Ballet at home

English National Ballet's Christmas gift

As a special gift to audiences, English National Ballet (ENB) are releasing a specially filmed performance of Nutcracker Delights.

Nutcracker Delights will be available to watch for free on ENB’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, from 2pm on Thursday 24 December, for 30 days.

Following London's move into Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions and the subsequent cancellation of all scheduled performances of Nutcracker Delights, the company decided to film a performance of this specially-adapted production.

The recording captures the debut performance of new ENB Principal, Natascha Mair. Mair dances the role of Clara alongside Lead Principal Erina Takahashi as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Lead Principal Joseph Caley as the Prince and First Soloist Aitor Arrieta as the Nutcracker.

Enjoy ballet at home >

service updates

Christmas and New Year service updates

There will be changes to the opening hours of various council services this Christmas.

We will continue to respond to the challenge of Covid-19 and work to ensure our communities are supported.

Learn more >

Useful links

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