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Vulnerable, isolated and ‘running out of supplies’

MILLIONS of people told to stay indoors for protection are going short of essential food and shopping supplies, amid warnings their plight will worsen over the coming weeks.

Those self-isolating — many of them elderly — say they have been left neglected and in the dark over how to access help, with government guidance only reaching limited numbers.

And three-quarters of shoppers have experienced shortages in recent weeks at supermarkets or online.

Age UK has issued fresh advice following an avalanche of calls from older people running short of supplies and unsure where to turn.

Director Caroline Abrahams said: ‘It’s reassuring that many of the big retailers have introduced measures to support older customers, such as protected shopping hours and priority delivery slots.

‘However, the majority of over-75s don’t use the internet and so doing online food shopping won’t be an option for them.’ The warnings came as Which? revealed millions of shoppers have experienced product shortages. Sue Davies, head of consumer protection and food policy, said: ‘All consumers, but particularly people who are vulnerable, need to have a much clearer route to access help and food supplies.’

The government plans to deliver weekly food parcels to more than 1million vulnerable people. A spokesperson said: ‘We are working to identify others who may need support. We are speaking to food retailers and volunteer groups to help prioritise those individuals.’

Supermarkets have set aside the first hour of each day for elderly shoppers, while Morrisons has promised 115,000 food parcels for vulnerable customers, and Sainsbury’s has emailed 270,000 people offering improved access.

Age UK has advice at ageuk.org.uk/coronavirus or on 0800 169 6565.