Latest RNIB Podcast

With some really useful tips and thinking around older people with sight loss from Marion MacMillan, RNIB UK Learning and Development Officer

I hope this finds you well, and coping with the strange circumstances in which we are currently living/working. 

I’m writing to let you know that the latest podcast from the RNIB Older People and Complex Needs Team is now live here:

In this podcast Iain and June chat about useful tips when talking to an adult with sight loss. There’s even a mythbuster in there!  Please could you share with any colleagues you think might be interested in listening.

As always, we welcome any/all feedback you can give us – just reply to this email, and tell us what you liked, what you didn’t like, and anything else you’d like to say.

We have an Open Badge linked to the podcasts, which you can apply for if you have listened to any of them.  Please could you pass this on to colleagues too.  Here is the link to the Open Badge:

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions.

Kind regards


Marion MacMillan
UK Learning and Development Officer
Older People and Complex NeedsTeam 
T: 0141 648 8507
Int: 522 8507
Mobile: 07548 138 875

Violence Against Women and Girls / Gender Based Violence Services during Coronavirus COVID-19, 7th April 2020

We are aware that the current conditions may be causing additional stress and risk for survivors of gender based violence and their families and we want to reassure you that you are not alone and you can get help.   

This is information on our local services and national helplines until further notice. Most of our specialist services are still taking referrals and maintaining support for public health and safety.

Women’s Aid East and Midlothian (WAEML)

WAEML remains open for support for domestic abuse for women and children and young people. Although all sites are closed to the public the staff team are largely working from home. Service hours:  Monday – Friday 9am–4pm (closed Easter weekend Friday 10th & Monday 13th April).   

  • Contact details:  Tel:  0131 561 5800 /  Email:
  • Facebook: Womens Aid East and Midlothian / Twitter: @WomensAidEML
  • New referrals:  Open by Phone, Email, Social Media
  • Outreach Support: Open (delivery of support agreed with service user – email/phone/skype/Zoom).  All service users have direct contact number/shift pattern with key workers.
  • Refuge: Open for admission (Air BnB style admission) – please phone to check refuge availability
  • Group Work: ON HOLD although some groups have private Facebook groups and some classes are being delivered by Zoom. 

For information contact Julie Watson, CEO: /mobile 07590 226588

Domestic Abuse Service (DAS) / Domestic Abuse Referral Pathway / MARAC, East Lothian and Midlothian Public Protection Office

Both DAS and the Pathway are open from 9.00-4.00pm. Staff are working from home providing support by phone and email with no face to face contact for the moment. All service users have their case-worker’s number.  Referrers can submit referrals or ask for advice as normal and we will continue to respond to child/adult protection concerns and contribute to critical meetings. For information email:

East Lothian and Midlothian MARACs continue every 4 weeks to protect survivors of domestic abuse at risk of serious harm with new arrangements from April till further notice.  We have circulated alternative arrangements for the MARAC process to MARAC representatives; the referral process remains the same, including the timelines for referrals and circulation of MARAC Agenda. For information contact:]

Shakti Women’s Aid

We provide support to BME women, children, and young people experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse from a partner, ex-partner, and/ or other members of the household. Currently support is by phone on 0131 475 2399

FearFree domestic abuse service for men and any LGBT+ person

We continue to provide support by phone, text, WhatsApp on 0131 624 7266 /

Midlothian and East Lothian Sexual Abuse Services for women

These services are currently closed to new referrals.  Survivors already receiving support will continue to be supported by phone/email/text and by their ERCC support worker about support sessions.  If you have experienced rape or sexual assault in the last 7 days, please contact . You can also get support from the National Rape Crisis Helpline, open every night from 6pm to midnight: 08088 01 03 02, or the textline: 07537 410 027.   We appreciate that waiting for our referral list to reopen can be difficult. Please see this link for alternative counselling services

Housing and Homelessness

East Lothian Council:  Most services are continuing to operate, find out at:  or phone 01620 827827

  • Homelessness assessments continue to be carried out via the phone.
  • Prevention Team can also be contacted via phone.
  • Tenants can get in touch with Housing Officer via phone.
  • The voids team continue to work on empty properties to bring them up to standard.  Where a risk assessment has taken place – allocations will continue.
  • Please note that the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 brings in a number of temporary measures to protect tenants from eviction. 

Midlothian Council:  All public offices are currently closed. 

The homeless service will operate as follows:

  • Contact 0131 271 3397 for advice and support during normal working hours or email
  • An emergency homeless service is provided out with normal working hours. Contact 0131 663 7211.

For general housing enquiries -phone 0131 271 3394 / email


  • Police Scotland – In an emergency always call 999 – otherwise 101
  • National Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline – for anyone:  Open 24/7.  Phone: 0800 027 1234 / Email: / Webchat:
  • Rape Crisis Scotland:  08088 01 03 02 (6pm – midnight)
  • Survivors UK help for men who have been sexually abused or raped:  0203 598 3898 / /
  • CLICK for women selling/exchanging sex: Anonymous online chat support 24 hours per week: for times, please see our website -Twitter @click_scotland
  • National Stalking Helpline – 0808 802 0300 (daily 9:30– 4pm;Wednesday 1–4pm)
  • Scottish Women’s Rights Centre helpline: 08088 00789
  • Revenge Porn helpline:  email
  • Victim Support Scotland’s helpline: 0800 160 1985 (Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm)
  • Breathing Space helpline: 0800 838587 (Mon-Thurs 6pm-2am/Fri 6pm-Mon 6am)
  • Are you hurting the one you love? Choose to stop! Contact Respect for help: call 0808 802 4040 / for information and webchat.

East Lothian Council Employee Briefing Note 02/06 – Coronavirus (Covid 19) – 6.4.20

Coronavirus Advice – general information

Managers should ensure that this briefing is shared as widely as possible with all your direct reports particularly those based within the community and those working from home. Please note for employees who have access to myHR, all employee briefings can be viewed by clicking the link to Inform.

If an employee doesn’t currently have access to myHR but would like to be added to receive their payslip electronically, plus be able to access key communication documents, then employees should send their e-mail address to the HR Payroll System Team mailbox giving a personal email address then they will be added to the system and will be sent details explaining how to access myHR.

Home visits/Travel to Work

All employees should ensure that they carry their Council ID with them at all times when at work. If you are stopped by the Police while acting on Council business, the ID card can identify you as a critical worker and having a legitimate business need to travel as well as reassuring Council service users that you are a legitimate Council employee.

Annual leave

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/365) has introduced a temporary new law to deal with coronavirus disruption. Employees and workers can carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday over a 2-year period, if they cannot take holiday due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For example, this could be because:

  • they’re self-isolating or are too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
  • they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday

The measure is to protect workers from losing their holiday entitlement and to provide employers with flexibility and staff to deal with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.

The changes mean employees can carry up to four weeks of unused leave into the next two leave years “where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus”.

More detailed management guidance will follow in due course.

Pre-booked holidays

If an employee no longer wishes to take annual leave off which they’d previously booked, for example because their holiday has been cancelled, any such change to pre-booked leave must be agreed in advance.

The Council may still require an employee to take the time off or indeed may decide that it requires to have key workers available and cancel pre-booked leave. The latter would be done in extenuating circumstances and the employee would be given twice as much notice as the pre-booked leave.

Support available, for you, from our Occupational Health Providers

Our Occupational Health and Employee Assistance provider, PAM, are committed to providing ongoing support during this COVID 19 outbreak and have introduced a new service for OH Employee Support.

It’s a self-referral service for employees. You can call the Glasgow Office on 0141 428 3900 and provide your details – name, date of birth, telephone number and employer. You will be asked brief details of the nature of the reason for your call and an appointment time will be offered for an OH Adviser to call you back.

The adviser will discuss your health related queries and provide support and signposting. PAM can provide you with advice on issues such as working from home, work station set up, physical issues, emotional support and COVID 19 health advice. Your manager will be provided with very brief information that you have made contact for support and will be told whether there is any further input recommended from your manager.

Any managers who want advice or recommendations to support their employees with work related concerns or fitness for work queries are encouraged to make a management referral. OH are still operating via a telephone model and are still there to support you and your teams. Please remember to ensure that employee’s telephone numbers are up to date on OHIO should a referral be required.

You can find more advice on PAM assessment on East Lothian Council’s intranet.

Physiotherapy for staff – provision update

Our OH Physiotherapy service has suspended all face-to-face consultations until further notice.

They are however offering remote consultations either by telephone or preferably using video calling platforms such as Skype.

Your Manager can arrange a consultation on your behalf by contacting .  You will need to provide a telephone number for your manager to pass on and the team at Midlothian Physiotherapy will call you back to arrange a suitable means of contact and a time. 


Shielding is a measure to protect people, including children, who are extremely vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 because of certain underlying health conditions. Its aim is to minimise interaction between these individuals and others as per the

If you have received a Shielding letter from NHS Scotland, you are strongly advised to shield yourself to reduce your chance of getting COVID-19

Those who are extremely vulnerable should:

  • not leave their homes
  • minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household

Find out more about shielding

We know that stopping these activities will be difficult. You should try to identify ways of staying in touch with others and participating in your normal activities from your home. However, you must not participate in alternative activities if they involve any contact with other people.

This advice will be in place for at least 12 weeks from when you received the letter.

This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.

Shielding is for an individual’s personal protection, it’s their choice to decide whether to follow these measures.

The Council would advise however that any employee who is covered by these arrangements should not come to work under any circumstances, if they can work from home they should continue to do so. If you live in the house with someone that is covered by the shielding arrangements, you should speak to your line manager and follow the advice on the NHS Inform link above.

Be fraud aware in challenging times

Across the UK we are beginning to see evidence that fraudsters are increasingly targeting the public and organisations with emails, texts, telephone calls and WhatsApp messages offering advice and treatment for the coronavirus.

Criminals are targeting people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and scamming people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home. These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or make appeals for you to support bogus charities or those who are ill. Further information on COVID19 scams can be found here

Reports from the public have already included online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived and a number of cases have been identified where fake testing kits have been offered for sale. If you see anything fraudulent in your local community please contact If you are offered work products for sale and are concerned that they may be fraudulent contact the procurement team at

Criminals are also using Government branding to try to trick people, including reports of using HMRC branding to make spurious offers of financial support through unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages.

Huge increases in the number of people working remotely mean that significantly more people will be vulnerable to computer service fraud where criminals will try and convince you to provide access to your computer or divulge your logon details and passwords. It is also anticipated that there will be a surge in phishing scams or calls claiming to be from government departments offering grants, tax rebates, or compensation. Do not divulge your log in details or passwords to anyone and report any potential phishing on your East Lothian Council equipment to

All staff are urged to stay safe, and follow this approach:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: For Personal fraud contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Police Scotland through 101. For fraud against the council contact your line manager or email 

Fire safety advice for those working in Council Buildings

A number of the council’s building are either closed or operating with a much reduced number of employees in the building. Employees operating in Council premises over this time should be extra vigilant with regard to fire safety and arrangement in operation in the workplace.

Updated information will be available on the Intranet shortly, which you should familiarise yourself with if you are working in a Council building or are the nominated key holder.

Tips and support for staying positive

It can be challenging to stay positive with so much uncertainty and change going on.  Below are some ideas and tips. 

Useful tips

Daily reminders on simple actions we can take:

Toolkit of resources:

Learnpro online learning:

Being at home (either if you are well and in isolation, or working), is a good opportunity to do online learning.  You may want to refresh or update your knowledge and skills, for example, in the Personal Development or Essentials section. Or perhaps you never quite got round to finishing the mandatory modules.    There are many modules available. Have a look, and we will be adding to these over the coming weeks.  Next week we will have a new module available on Personal Resilience During Uncertainty.

LearnPro can be accessed when working from home – either from a council device – or from your personal device. The link to LearnPro is:-

Log in with email address you have used on your LearnPro account (usually this is your council email address). 

If you request a password reset on-line, the new password will be sent to that email account – however if you cannot access your work email and need a password reset then email

If you prefer to use a personal or Edubuzz email address on you LearnPro account you can make the change under your “Profile” after logging in.

There are seven mandatory modules that we should all complete. They can be found in the “Mandatory for All” Category. If you have a current pass there will be a green circle alongside the module. If you do not, there will be a red circle. The modules are:-

Public Protection – Everyone’s Responsibility

  • Equality and Diversity Awareness
  • Freedom of Information
  • General Data Protection Regulation
  • Health and Safety
  • Information Security
  • PREVENT (Counter Terrorism)

Some tips for homeworkers to improve the performance of your connection

Home Wi-Fi connections

When using laptops from home, you might find that sometimes things are running more slowly than normal. We have found improvements can be made by looking at what devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi, and what services they are using. By limiting streaming media (Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Spotify etc.) on your home devices this will allow for a better connection back to the ELC network.

Use of streaming media when remote working

A large number of ELC staff are now working remotely on Council laptops, mostly from their own homes. While working from home, we would ask that staff minimise the use they make of video content such as YouTube, online radio stations or similar services on their council device, unless these are business critical. These types of services put a higher strain on the ELC internet connection than just normal email, internet and shared folder access. To ensure we have the best quality connection and access speeds for all staff minimising streaming media content use is very important.

Changes to PVG

Disclosure Scotland is suspending all fees for key workers and volunteers who are being drafted to help Scotland fight against coronavirus. This is a temporary measure which will be in place for an initial period of six weeks, before being reviewed and extended further, if needed.

In addition, Disclosure Scotland has already put a number of temporary measures in place to ensure the country can be properly resourced to tackle COVID-19, including only processing applications for workers deemed critical to the fight.  As it stands the list of prioritised roles remains:

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Childcare
  • Social Work
  • Social Care
  • Prisons and Justice

As the situation develops and evolves, the list of prioritised sectors may change as Disclosure Scotland identifies other sectors with roles critical to supporting the Scottish Government at this time.

The Disclosure Scotland Team have recently published information for managers on other changes to the PVG process including a new electronic processes for the checks and faster turnaround time. If you require a PVG form or have any PVG queries please email the Disclosure Team at  

General Employment Advice

For further advice employees can contact or on 01620 827868, option 5 and option1, leave a message and we will get back to you.

Health and safety advice can be obtained by emailing or by calling 01620 827812

Offer of free flat for use for health and social care staff needing to isolate from family

A member of the local community has been in touch with a kind offer.

She says:

‘Hi all, we have a studio flat for free use for NHS or social care worker who has to isolate from their family, if you know of anyone in this position let me know.’

If you are interested, please email me direct at and I will put you in touch. First come, first served! 🙂

Using Zoom Video-Conferencing for work – advice from East Lothian Council IT Team

IT receive a lot of enquiries about the potential use of apps and similar software targeted at the consumer market. This has increased significantly over recent weeks as services come to terms with new ways of working during the present emergency. We take a cautious approach to our practice and advice around the use of this type of software as it is predominantly unregulated, generally insecure and does not comply with data protection legislation that the Council has to abide by.  This has served us well in ensuring we maintain our accreditations and avoiding enforcement action from our regulators. Our most recent advice issued around the use of the Zoom video conferencing application has today been backed up the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government.

The Digital Office for Scottish Local Government has today (8th April 2020) issued the following recommendation:


Two weeks ago, the Digital Office released a brochure describing tools that could be used to assist remote working.  One of these recommendations was the video conferencing application Zoom. Since then a number of news stories have circulated describing the privacy and security flaws in Zoom, and now a detailed technical analysis of the tool has shown serious vulnerabilities and poor programming practices (that will enable future vulnerabilities) in the Zoom installation. These include, but are not limited to:

  • remote camera hijacking
  • privilege escalation
  • local web server installation that persists after uninstalling
  • the redirection of calls via servers located in China for no identifiable reason.

Many NHS Scotland Boards and the Scottish Government have taken the decision to block Zoom at their firewalls and to ban the use of Zoom across their organisations. We recommend that Councils take the same action. Understanding that Zoom may already form a substantial part of your remote working practices, the following guidelines may be useful until another solution is able to take its place:

  • Do not use the standalone Zoom client on corporate devices;
  • Where possible, use the Zoom web application rather than installed service;
  • Do not use zoom for Commercially Sensitive, Official Sensitive or discussions involving personal data;
  • If you are not confident that colleagues can self-regulate the above point then ban completely.

At East Lothian Council, the IT Service issued formal advice on 1st of April and this still stands, the key points being:

  • The Council will continue to restrict access to Zoom.
  • We cannot vouch for the security of anything that is discussed in a Zoom session.
  • Staff who need to participate in an externally-hosted Zoom meeting that is business-critical should discuss with their line manager and get them to raise a request for this via the IT Service Desk (by email if possible
  • Staff who need to participate in a Zoom meeting should ask the host to make the meeting available for web browser access as ELC computers do not have the Zoom client installed.
  • The Council are not currently investigating procuring Zoom as a platform for staff to host meetings on. We advise that staff wishing to host online conference should do so using Skype for Business.
  • Skype for Business can be ordered through the IT Service Desk, there is a cost of £80 per user per annum. We require a valid finance code to charge this to, plus a list of the staff you want set up.

If you require further information please contact the IT Service Desk (

Carers of East Lothian – Updated Resilience Resource List for carers – 8.4.20

COEL has issued the latest version of the Carers of East Lothian resilience resources list. They asked us to highlight a few changes:

  • North Berwick Resilience Contacts
  • Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig Resilience Contacts (share a single point of contact)
  • Audiology services/ library services to source hearing aid batteries
  • Pennypit Development Trust Emergency Food Provision in Prestonpans and Tranent
  • Our Community Kitchen Food Provision in Haddington
  • Updated list of food suppliers currently doing deliveries – information about who is open/ shut/ has capacity changes quite regularly but is a good list of local suppliers that is being updated regularly

Kirsteen at COEL will send out an updated list on a weekly basis.

Carers of East Lothian – Updated Resilience Resource List for carers – 8.4.20

Update from Scottish Government about framework to support Gypsy Travellers during COVID-19

We are pleased to inform you that our framework to support Gypsy/Travellers in relation to COVID-19 has been published online. I have attached the link to the published framework below and would be grateful if you would pass it on to your stakeholder lists.

Kind regards,


Robbie Lambie
Policy Officer – Private Housing Services
Scottish Government/ Housing and Social Justice Directorate 
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw,
G2 8LU


HILDA has had a make-over!

Have you seen our new-look HILDA web site? This now has a Covid-19 update on keeping healthy and safe when self isolating.

More about HILDA

HILDA (Health and Independent Living Daily Activities) provides its users with information they can trust on equipment that they can buy or borrow to help them maintain and improve mobility.

It offers an easy-to-follow online self-assessment to help pinpoint what kind of support would be useful and puts people in touch with activities, exercise and advice that will help keep them moving and enjoying life.

Registering enables its users to get the most out of HILDA. Then they can plan and set goals that will help improve their mobility.

They can change their goals as their needs change and they can also create a plan for friends or relatives. Assessments, advice and details of equipment can be pinned to their plan.