Our Response

During the ongoing spread of Covid-19 we know how important it is to keep our customers, members, supporters, and staff informed and up-to-date.

With this in mind, as we progress through the pandemic, this page will be continually reviewed to ensure that we are providing the most current and useful information possible.

Following the advice and guidance of government, NHS England and Public Health England, we have made adjustments to our work behaviours to minimise risk for our staff and our customers. This has necessitated limiting face-to-face contact, temporary office closures and embracing homeworking.

Though we will be doing things differently over the coming weeks, we will continue to represent, to listen and to engage with those who we exist to support.

This page explains how we are responding to Covid-19 in the different areas of our work.


Accessible View

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A Message from our CEO

Like many other organisations involved daily in supporting and giving people a voice, People First has been considering what aspects of normal service delivery can carry on and what has to be altered in line with the circumstances we find ourselves in as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

All four of our offices in Cumbria and Lancashire have now closed but we have most certainly not closed our service delivery. We remain committed to our fundamental principles and values and are actively considering and implementing new ways of working in line with national guidance.

Like others, we have reluctantly stopped most or our face to face work. However we have adapted our working practice to enable us to continue supporting as many people as possible through other means. We will continue to support many people on-line and by telephone and we are currently involved in establishing some new and innovative digital technology to extend the effectiveness of this.

We are also working very closely with local Community Resilience Groups to establish what’s needed in communities and what can be implemented using the vast range of skills and experience in our workforce.  One example of this is the identification, recruitment, training and supervision of volunteers who can then be matched to support identified need for individuals and communities.

The situation is changing rapidly but we have already adapted well to home working and are communicating in new and exciting ways to keep up.  People First is committed to being as proactive and helpful as it can be to help people have the support they need when and where they most need it.


Advocacy Services

We understand this is a difficult time for many people, not just those we support. We wanted to reach out to you to assure you that we are working hard to minimise the impact on the advocacy support we offer.

Our number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of the people we work with, our staff and communities. Our advocacy team are set up to work remotely technology to ensure that we’re continuing to provide our service.

Our advocacy services will continue to be available. Our advocates will continue to provide outstanding support; however we will be changing the way we do things. We are doing our best to keep face-to-face contact to a minimum to support the effort to reduce possible transmission of coronavirus.  Our advocates will use phone calls, emails, video calls and other digital means to ensure we can keep in touch.

You can get in touch with us via our usual means:

Please stay safe and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any help or support.


The Centre for Learning

Our learners are now at home and have received their first online course work. We are operating a personal tutor system and will be talking with learners at least twice a week while they follow their Open Awards learning. For more information about our courses contact


Inclusion Team Projects

  • C(E)TRs: We are waiting to hear from NECS about contingency but at the moment we are still attending CETRs where we are able and are still in contact with our experts by experience. Contact for information.
  • Self Advocacy Groups: our face to face group meetings across Cumbria have closed for now but we are setting up virtual self advocacy groups, please contact for more information. All members have been contacted to find out their preferences for (remote) meeting and support
  • LeDeR Confirm and Challenge Group: Our group are no longer meeting face to face but will carry on business remotely. For information contact
  • We Are All People First: our co-produced project enabling people with learning difficulties and/or autism in Assessment and Treatment Units and locked homes to access self advocacy is transferred to postal and remote contact. The training and event components of the work is on hold. Contact for information.
  • Children and Young Peoples project: Talk Active is still running using remote support, young people with learning difficulties and/or autism currently involved have been contacted. If you would like to find out more or join in contact
  • Volunteers: face to face volunteering is currently on hold. However we know volunteers are going to be required across a range of community support or remotely with our groups. If you are interested please contact


The Carlisle Conference Centre

Following government advice, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the People First Conference Centre.

We would like to thank each and every one of our customers and supporters for their continued support. We know this is a hard time for all businesses and we wish our customers well over the coming weeks.

Though our doors are closed, our team are busy working from home to ensure that we can respond to any questions you may have. As ever, People First is made up of forward thinking individuals; as such we are planning for the future – we’ve started to prepare for our eventual reopening and look forward to welcoming you to our centre in the near future.

During the closure the team will look to ensure that with our future reopening, we remain one of the most innovative, value for money centres for your meetings, training events and social occasions in Cumbria.

If you have an event in mind for the future, our experienced and knowledgeable team are ready to help. Give us a call on 0300 3034077; or drop us an email

Stay safe and look after each other.


Healthwatch – Cumbria and Lancashire

As an organisation that exists to hear and amplify your experiences of health and social care, your local Healthwatch is designed to be a visible and active presence in your communities. With this in mind, the spread of coronavirus presents challenges for us and our team. However we have put in place robust measures, including home working for our staff and digital engagement tools, to limit the effect of the pandemic on our work whilst minimising the risk of spreading coronavirus.

The health and wellbeing of our team and the communities we work with is our top priority; as such we are closely following the advice of central government, The NHS and Public Health England. Like other organisations that work closely with the public, we have a responsibility to ensure that we are implementing sensible and responsible measures. As such we have decided to limit face-to-face interaction as much as possible throughout our work. This includes suspending Enter and View visits, postponing engagement activities, volunteering opportunities and temporarily closing our offices.

Though we have taken these steps, our hardworking and resilient staff continue to work from home and the work of Healthwatch Cumbria and Healthwatch Lancashire continues. We are utilising video calling, phone calls, emails, video conferencing, our social media channels and our websites to keep connected and to keep listening to experiences.

Though we are working differently we are still working. Through the pandemic we will still be here to be an independent champion of your experiences of, and views on, Health and Social Care. You can contact us via our social media channels, our phone line and our email addresses.


Healthwatch Cumbria                                                                   Healthwatch Lancashire

Phone: 0300 303 8567                                                                       Phone: 0152 423 9100
Email:                                Email:
Website:                           Website:
Facebook: @healthwatchcumb                                                    Facebook: @lancshealthwatch
Twitter: @Healthwatchcumb                                                         Twitter: @HW_Lancashire