Last updated on 22 February.

As this is an evolving situation, this page may be updated if or when new information becomes available. We therefore suggest that you visit this page regularly for updates.

It's completely understandable to be worried about the impact coronavirus may have on you or those you care about. Try to stay calm and follow the latest Government advice.

For information about how to protect yourself, please see the NHS website. 

The charity Mind has information you might find helpful. 

What is the coronavirus?

What is the coronavirus?  

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. This strain,  COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.  

What are the symptoms?  

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has  COVID-19 infection:  

  • A cough  
  • A high temperature  
  • Shortness of breath  

If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111 or go to the NHS 111 coronavirus advice website. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.  

The latest advice and developments on the COVID-19 situation can be found on the GOV.UK website

What’s the best way to prevent the spread of  COVID-19?  

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This is particularly important after taking public transport.  
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.  
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. You can download a ’Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS.  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  

Are there any other steps we can take? 

  • Handwashing facilities: Handwashing facilities should be available and well supplied. More regular handwashing may require more supplies. Provide hand sanitiser, tissues and cleaning products around your buildings for staff and visitors. GOV.UK has published clear and printable instructions on handwashing techniques (PDF, 130KB) which can be displayed around the workplace.   
  • Cleaning regimes: Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight hours. Frequently clean key areas including keyboards and door handles.  
  • Consider running committee meetings via Skype or other similar services. Sands may be able to offer conference call facilities to groups. However, these lines are limited, and access will need to be managed. Please speak to your Network Coordinator if you think this will be useful. 
  • Ensure your emergency contact details are up to date. 
  • Follow official guidance about self-isolation 
  • The government has listed high risk areas/countries by category 1 (highest risk areas) and category 2 areas.    
  • Individuals who are symptomless but have returned from category 1 areas within the last 14 days should self-isolate for 14 days from their return.   
  • Individuals who have returned from a category 2 area within the last 14 days and who develop symptoms should self-isolate.  
  • If you believe you need to self-isolate, or if you become aware of anyone your group has supported/had contact with is self-isolating, please inform a member of Sands’ staff as soon as possible.  
  • Make sure you review any cancellation policies for venue/equipment hire 
  • Keep up to date with official guidance, and be ready to change your plans (think about how you will communicate any changes) 

How is Sands responding?

Key action points:

  • All Sands events are now cancelled until it's safe to resume, this includes Networking Days and Befriender Training
  • All Sands face-to-face support meetings are cancelled until it's safe to resume
  • All other events, such as fundraising or memorial events, are cancelled until it's safe to resume, Sands will need your help to look at new ways to fundraise during this time

The charity, the staff, our volunteers and the people we support remain are our priority.

Sands is reviewing and assessing the situation on a daily basis. At the moment, the London office is closed down, and all staff are working from home. This has been a straightforward process for the charity as around 40% of staff are part or full-time homeworkers. This means that our services and the level of support we can offer you remains the same.

If you are a bereaved parent or family member

We are closely monitoring the situation and have decided to cancel all face-to-face support group meetings and other events across the UK until further notice. 

Please rest assured that there is bereavement support available should you need it. You can access support from Sands via the following: 

For more information about how changes due to Covid-19 impact on bereaved families, visit

For more information about how we offer support, visit

It's completely understandable to be worried about the impact coronavirus may have on you or those you care about. Try to stay calm and follow the official advice from the Government. The charity Mind has information you might find helpful. 

If you are a Sands volunteer or befriender

We also understand that this is a challenging time for everyone. As a Sands volunteer, you are the lifeblood of the organisation and we want you to know that Sands is here to support you too with whatever you may need.

In light of recent developments, we have made the difficult decision to suspend all face-to-face support group meetings until it's safe to resume. We are also postponing scheduled Networking Days and Befriender Training until it's safe to resume. 

Please make sure the national helpline number is displayed wherever possible. Think about all your online locations – social media, website (if you have one), and have a standard response ready for any messages. Consider changing your voicemail message, and think about putting up a sign at your usual meeting location.

Also display information about the other ways Sands offers support remotely, including the Online Community, Sands’ Facebook page, the Bereavement Support App, so that anyone missing out on a support meeting can seek alternative support. You can use the following wording as a guide:

Due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus in <AREA> we have had to make the decision to cancel <NAME OF EVENT/ACTIVITY> on <DATE>. If you need bereavement support please contact the Sands helpline on 0808 164 3332 or For other ways we offer support, including our Online Community and our Bereavement Support App, visit For information about coronavirus, see

Sands is looking into alternatives to face to face meetings including  online meetings and conference calls, and we are looking at how we might be able to offer these to befriender so they can offer virtual support. We will provide more information as it becomes available. You can also investigate how to access online platforms yourself. If you find something that works, do let your Network Coordinator know, so that we can share this good practice with other groups.

Skype and Zoom for example are both online platforms that offer free tools to allow for online meetings and are worth looking at to help replace your existing support should this be appropriate or of interest for you. 

However, we recognise it may not be possible or desirable to try to move local support online. This is why we are prioritising our resources to ensure the main bereavement support channels remain open as well as looking at other ways to reach out. The helpline will be there for the people you would normally support.

We have a memorial/fundraising event planned – should we cancel it?

The same guidance applies as for support meetings. Please postpone or cancel any event scheduled to take place until it's safe to resume, and inform your Network Coordinator. Please hold off on paying any deposits for your events until further notice.

What about other volunteer roles? 

If your role involves attending an event or meeting run by another organisation, please be aware that the organiser might change their plans and look out for notifications. If the event or meeting goes ahead, please make your own assessment of whether to attend based on official guidance about preventing the spread of covid-19. Please do not put yourself or your community at risk in order to carry out your volunteering role.

If your role involves going into a hospital or GP surgery please contact them in advance to check that your visit will still be helpful, to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the health service.

What if things change? 

Sands will continue to follow official guidance - the health of our volunteers, staff, and those who we support are our absolute priority.  As soon as official advice changes, Sands will review its guidance to groups. 

How can Sands volunteers help to continue fundraising efforts?

The Corona Virus is an unprecedented time for charity fundraising and Sands is unfortunately not immune. Like the rest of the charity sector, Sands is busy adapting and ensuring that we continue to raise vital funds for the work we do supporting bereaved families and saving babies’ lives.

This includes looking at ways we can move to more virtual charity events, DIY fundraising activities and other alternative that don’t involve gatherings.

Sands Fundraising Team will be in touch with all our volunteers and supporters to provide opportunities to fundraise, offer ideas and support to continue our fundraising efforts.

To help with this, look out for further fundraising communications and think about ways you could raise funds in different ways. Also you may have skills and contacts that could help Sands’ fundraising efforts. If you have any suggestions or ideas of how you can help or ideas we may be able to adapt, please get in touch and email

Are there any other steps we can take?

  • Ensure your emergency contact details are up to date.
  • Follow official guidance about self-isolation
  • If you believe you need to self-isolate, or if you become aware of anyone your group has supported/had contact with is self-isolating, please inform a member of Sands’ staff as soon as possible

There is additional information available on

If you are a Sands fundraiser

Sands is now postponing all events until it's safe to resume. This decision follows the change in official advice. 

Please also contact the Sands Fundraising Team for any support regarding rearranging events. Fundraising challenge and running events will be replaced with virtual type events and the Sands Fundraising Team will be in contact with ideas for new ways of supporting Sands. Ideas are always welcome! Please contact

0207 436 7640

If you are part of Sands United

Following the Government’s announcement that people should avoid social contact and gatherings where possible The FA are now advising that all grassroots football in England be postponed for the foreseeable future. 
The Scottish FA has also suspended all grassroots football activity.
The Welsh FA has also suspended football at all levels.
Therefore we ask that all Sands United FC teams postpone any planned training sessions or matches until otherwise advised.
Please remind your teams that during this difficult time bereavement support continues to be available via the Sands helpline on 0808 164 3332 or

The latest advice and developments on the COVID-19 situation can be found on the GOV.UK website. For information about how to protect yourself, please see the NHS website.  

If you are a healthcare or other professional

Sands face to face training has been postponed due to COVID19 however we continue to provide training via Webinar.  For more details on Sands webinars and to book a place visit here.

For advice and resources on bereavement care during COVID-19, visit

For advice to share with pregnant women, please refer to RCOG guidance.

The Royal College of Midwives also have advice and guidance on their website.

There is guidance on allowing access for partners, visitors and other supporters of pregnant women during the pandemic across the UK. This is particularly important  for those pregnant following loss, or receiving bad news. You can access the information for each nation below:

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