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How do I register as a vulnerable customer?

vulnerable shopper

Last updated: 06/11/2020

If you've tried to do an online shop recently, you'll know just how hard it is to come by one of those coveted delivery slots. For those who are vulnerable, however, this can be particularly tricky during lockdown, so supermarkets are offering priority slots to those who were previously told to shield. Here's what you need to know, including how to check if you qualify. 

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Do I qualify as a vulnerable customer?

What's an extremely vulnerable person? 

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that makes you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus, you are able to register with the government to receive support. You can find a list of conditions that are included in this definition, and advice on what you need to do if this applies to you, on the government website here

During the first wave of coronavirus, the NHS sent out letters to those it considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable, telling them to shield and to not leave the house for this period, including for food shopping.

Shielding has not been reintroduced during the second national lockdown in England, but the government has issued extra guidance for those who are vulnerable - including the advice that you should not go to the shops. The government website also says: "If you already have a priority delivery slot with a supermarket, that will continue – you do not need to do anything further."


I didn't receive a letter - how do I register? 

If you didn't receive a letter from the NHS, but think you qualify for this support you can register yourself, or on behalf of someone, on the government website. Please note, that this registering process is unfortunately only available to those who live in England. If you live in England, you can use this website to register. You'll then need to fill in a questionnaire. 

There are similar services are available to people who live in Scotland, and Wales. If you live in Northern Ireland there is a community helpline you can ring that is open five days a week, where you will find more information.  


What supermarkets are offering slots for vulnerable customers?

extremely vulnerable online shopping order 

How do I get a delivery slot for Tesco? 

Tesco says it will prioritise customers who are on the government's list of vulnerable people. If you're on the list, Tesco will have contacted you by email earlier in the year. To try and get access to a priority slot, you can also phone 0800 917 7359. Tesco is encouraging people to use these slots as little possible, they can to free them up for people who truly have no other way to get food. So even if you are entitled to a slot, if it's possible for you to get someone else to go into the store and do your shopping for you, you should try to do this instead. 

Sainsbury's and vulnerable shoppers 

The supermarket identified hundreds of thousands of people classed to be vulnerable for priority home delivery slots, and contacted them by email. 

For those with a priority slot who can't place their order online, they are offering a telephone ordering service.

Sainsburys advises that customers in England who are vulnerable can refer themselves for help with food and essential items from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme by calling 0808 196 3646.


Asda Priority Passes

During the first lockdown, Asda issued vulnerable customers with a Priority Pass for deliveries. They have now extended these passes so they are valid until until 31 March 2021. It's worth noting that Asda have made some small changes, however, including slot pricing.


Vulnerable customers at Waitrose

In March Waitrose contacted all customers over 70, and offered them and other vulnerable people priority slots on its website. The supermarket worked with the government to try and find ways to reach out to those on the list of vulnerable people.

Vulnerable customers at Morrisons 

Morrisons is offering delivery slots through its website and its Amazon prime store. The supermarket has also created a call centre for customers who do not shop online. Customers who wish to place an order should phone 0345 611 6111 and select option five.

To make online shopping simpler, Morrisons have also introduced a range of food boxes which can be delivered. 

How do I register at for a delivery slot at Iceland? 

Iceland have prioritised those on the governments' official 'shield' lists of the most vulnerable people, back in March. These customers were contacted by email.

Marks and Spencers' Deliveroo service

The high-end retailer announced that 130 of its home and food items are now available via Deliveroo. There is a £4.99 delivery charge and they say deliveries will take a mere 30 minutes. 

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I'm not on the list of vulnerable customers, but I can't go to the shops - what can I do? 

If you can't leave the house for other reasons, here are a few ways to get food if you need it. 

  • Ask a trusted friend or neighbour to collect your shopping for you. Many streets have set up WhatsApp groups where you can ask for help and get in touch with people who live nearby - find out if there is one for your road. 
  • Contact the Mutual Aid group for your area, and request for someone to do your shopping for you and drop it at your house. 
  • Lots of local greengrocers, corner shops, butchers and other small buisnesses are offering delivery, often for free. If you Google the local greengrocer for your area you should be able to access their phone number - ring them and see if they can drop anything off for you.
  • Your local council website should have information on the help they are providing to people who can't leave the house. You can find your local authority website here
  • Meals on wheels might be provided in your area, although not everyone is eligible. Gov.uk has links to a helpful directory for this on their website. 
  • There are also plenty of commerical meal delivery services which deliver for a fee. 
  • The social network Nextdoor allows you to connect with people in your area - its aim is too create a 'neighbourhood hub'. People have been volunteering to collect food and perscriptions for neighbours, so log on if you're in a bind and need some help. 

How do I get the most out of my shopping? 

  • Watch out for supermarket shopping email scams. Be wary of messages claiming to offer vouchers or exclusive access - always check the email address of the sender, and don't enter personal details unless you can be sure you trust the source of the message. For more information on keeping yourself safe, have a read of our guide to avoiding scams
  • Remember when online shopping to click 'save' so you don't lose the contents of your shopping basket, and to log in and out regularly to ensure your session doesn't expire. 

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