Our Response

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

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 are doing things differently,  we continue to represent, to listen and to engage with those who we exist to support.

This page explains our ongoing response to Covid-19 in the different areas of our work.


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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 adapted our normal service delivery in line with the circumstances we find ourselves in as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

All of our offices in Cumbria and Lancashire are closed but we have most certainly not closed our service delivery. We remain committed to our fundamental principles and values and are actively 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 are continuing to support many people on-line, by telephone and through innovative digital technology including video calls.

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.

The situation is changing rapidly but we continue to work effectively at home by communicating in new and exciting ways to keep our services available for our customers. 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 want 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 to ensure that we’re continuing to provide our service.

Our advocacy services continue to be available. Our advocates continue to provide outstanding support; however we have changed 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 now 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 working at home and continue to receive online work each week. We are operating a personal tutor system, 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 continue to provide Experts by Experience to C(E)TRs for North Cumbria, Durham, Darlington and Teeside. They are currently all conducted online whilst restrictions are in place. Contact for further 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.


Children and Young Peoples projects: We now have 2 youth projects; Talk-Active and Next Steps. Both projects offer support to young people with learning difficulties and/or autism aged 10-18.


  • Talk Active supports young people to develop key skills and knowledge around 6 areas of life; a healthy life, safe life, expressive life, future life, skills for life and relationships.
  • Next Steps supports and prepares young people during the pandemic and to transition from lockdown back into everyday life through a range of interventions.Both projects are running remote activities and workshops and can offer group and one to one support to young people and their families.If you would like to find out more or join in contact on 07763546116 or


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


HERE: The HERE counselling service is operating remotely and has been available during the Covid restrictions and will continue during lockdown. We currently have 4 level 7 psychotherapists registered with UKCP/BACP who offer at least six free sessions of therapy over a full range of issues (Covid related and otherwise)  facing anyone from the general public. Referrals can be made directly to the service on Email: or phone Lucy on 07843 144572.


Keeping People Connected: Offers telephone support to people with learning difficulties and/or autism, in North Cumbria and Lancashire, who have been impacted by the pandemic.

With the England now back in national lockdown we are aware of the essential need to continue with this work as it reaches many people who would otherwise be isolated. For further information or to make a referral please contact Lucy on or 07843 144572.



The Carlisle Conference Centre

Following government advice, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the People First Conference Centre for general bookings. This is both for safety reasons and to enable us to support local NHS services to carry out vital critical care training in our spaces.

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 throughout 2021.

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