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Big Issue sellers struggle for cash in lockdown

BBC News Education

Big Issue sellers, forced off the streets by the coronavirus lockdown, are relying on emergency bailouts being provided by the magazine.

Big Issue seller

Lord Bird, founder of the magazine, which helps the homeless earn a living, says many have been left in a "parlous state" without an income.

He says sellers and the magazine are unable to get government support for lost earnings during the crisis.

The ban on street selling has threatened to take away the regular earnings of its vendors.

So the Big Issue is giving sellers cash from online sales and subscriptions.

Loan and credit card payments set to be frozen

BBC Business News

People struggling with loan repayments and overdraft fees amid the coronavirus pandemic will be granted temporary relief under new proposals.

Man with bill in hand
Getty Images

The Financial Conduct Authority is asking banks to freeze payments on loans and credit cards for up to three months for those facing difficulties.

The City watchdog also wants interest on the first £500 of existing overdrafts to be frozen for a period.

The FCA said the outbreak had caused an “unprecedented financial shock”

Testing will 'unlock puzzle', PM says


Testing is the solution to "unlock the puzzle" of coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

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Mr Johnson was speaking after it was revealed only 2,000 out of some half a million frontline NHS workers in England had been tested.

The PM said the government needed to "massively ramp up" testing so that NHS staff who are self-isolating unnecessarily could return to work.

Mr Johnson, who is self-isolating in Downing Street after contracting the virus himself, has faced widespread criticism over his government's testing strategy.

Outpatient dates go on phone or video at hospitals

The trust that runs hospitals around Morecambe Bay says some outpatients will be "seen" by video link or over the telephone because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Westmorland general outpatients dept

The trust’s outpatient departments at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Westmorland General Hospital (pictured) in Kendal and Furness General Hospital, along with health centres at Queen Victoria Hospital in Morecambe and Ulverston Community Health Centre are cutting back on services to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Officials say that wherever possible, clinicians will decide whether outpatient appointments and conversations have to be face-to-face, and either cancel others or hold them by other means.

Plant nursery among hundreds faces uncertain future

A pair of brothers from Clitheroe are among hundreds of garden centre and nursery owners facing an uncertain future.

Having worked hard to open their site near Clitheroe, Peter and Chris Bristol had to close four days later due to coronavirus restrictions.

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University streaming lunchtime concerts

The University of Liverpool’s free Lunchtime Concerts are continuing online while the country is in self-isolation.

"An hour of calm" will take place online every Wednesday at 13:00.

Tom Thorp
University of Liverpool/Facebook

Today's artist is saxophonist Tom Thorp, an international, award-winning jazz soloist, composer and bandleader.

Read more about the concerts and watch on the University of Liverpool Concert and Events page.

Jos Buttler auctions World Cup shirt to raise money for coronavirus fight

BBC Sport

England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has put the shirt he wore in last summer's World Cup final victory up for auction to raise money to fight coronavirus.

Jos Buttler
Getty Images

The Lancashire star broke the stumps to run out Martin Guptill and seal a super-over win over New Zealand as England won the men's World Cup for the first time.

He has put the shirt on eBay to support two specialist heart and lung centres dealing with the coronavirus response.

The highest bid was over £65,000 on Wednesday morning.

Lancashire trust offers help on 'how to challenge unhelpful thoughts'

Dealing with the coronavirus crisis can take a mental toll on anyone, so a Lancashire NHS trust is offering some "practical tips and advice" on dealing with low mood.

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Two of latest virus deaths were at Barrow hospital

More details have been made public of deaths of patients who had given positive tests for coronavirus at hospitals run by the Morecambe Bay hospitals trust.

The trust says that two were a man aged 79, and a woman, 81, at the Furness General in Barrow, while the third was a woman aged 76 at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, which serves parts of South Cumbria.

All of them officials said, had other underlying health conditions.

Circus clowns find a way to work from home

Brothers and neighbours Mooky and Mr Boo haven't let coronavirus social distancing stop them from practising their routine.

They've found a way to rehearse at a safe distance - and entertain the neighbours while they're at it!

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'How do I get a food parcel?'

BBC Business News

Free food boxes containing essential supplies have been delivered in England to people considered to be at the highest risk from coronavirus.

One-and-a-half million people in England have been identified as being extremely medically vulnerable and the government will distribute free food parcels every week to more than 50,000 who have no family or friends to help them.

Government food parcel
PA Media

The identical parcels contain essential non-perishable supplies like pasta, cereal, fruit, tea bags, potatoes and tinned goods, as well as toilet paper.

A food distribution company will deliver the packs to people's doorsteps, although in some cases local authorities, charities or emergency services may help out.

You can register for support on the government website.

Supermarket sales in March 'busier than Christmas'

BBC Business News

Sales of groceries in the UK in March beat all previous records as shoppers stocked up for a long period at home, according to consumer analysts Kantar.

Supermarket queues

The busiest spell was 16-19 March, when 88% of households visited a food store, adding up to 42 million extra trips across four days.

In the last four weeks, year-on-year supermarket sales grew by 20.6%.

Kantar's Fraser McKevitt said £10.8bn sales in the past four weeks were "even higher than levels seen at Christmas".

Free school meals children to get food vouchers


Families with children eligible for free school meals in England will be able to claim weekly shopping vouchers while schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, say ministers.

Children in school dinner queue

The scheme will allow schools to issue vouchers worth £15 a week per child.

Headteachers have warned that even with the vouchers, some parents will struggle to feed their children.

But the Department for Education says the rate exceeds that normally paid to schools for free school meals.

Police told to be 'consistent' on lockdown powers


Police officers have been told to take a "consistent" approach when ensuring people comply with emergency measures aimed at curbing coronavirus.


Guidance to officers calls on forces to "coordinate" efforts and emphasises the importance of professionalism.

It comes amid criticism of the way some forces have handled the new measures.

A former Justice of the Supreme Court told the BBC one force's use of drones to film walkers in the Peak District had been "disgraceful".

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said police forces were doing a difficult job and being sensible about enforcing social distancing measures.

Volunteer group offers 'countywide telephone befriending service'

Lancashire CCC chairman dies after contracting coronavirus

BBC Sport

Lancashire chairman David Hodgkiss has died at the age of 71 after contracting coronavirus.

James Anderson and David Hodgkiss
Getty Images

Hodgkiss, who had underlying health issues, took on the role in 2017 after almost two decades on the club's board.

He also had spells as treasurer and vice-chairman during his time working with the county.

"He was much loved by everyone at Lancashire and respected throughout the cricketing world," a statement on the club website said.

"Our sincere condolences and thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Warning over text message scam

Crimestoppers has warned people about a fake text message which is circulating, threatening fines for people who leave their homes too many times during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Police in Lancashire issue 123 coronavirus-related fines

Police in Lancashire have dealt with about 250 incidents connected with the new lockdown rules brought in to curb the rise in coronavirus cases, the area's deputy chief constable has said.


Last Thursday, the government gave police forces new powers to fine people and organisations breaking the rules.

DCC Terry Woods said Lancashire Police had dealt with reports of businesses and pubs opening and drivers making non-essential journeys.

He said as a result, 123 fines had been issued, adding that while it had been a busy time for the force, most people were abiding by the rules.

University admissions could face emergency controls

BBC News Education

Universities in England could face fixed limits on how many students they each recruit, in a bid to create more stability and reduce financial threats.


There are concerns that the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus could leave some universities with too few applicants to stay financially viable.

It is understood that emergency controls are being considered to stop a free-for-all in student recruitment.

But Universities UK said any "stability measures" had not yet been decided.

PM says 20,000 former NHS staff return to fight virus


Some 20,000 former NHS staff have returned to work to help the fight against coronavirus, Boris Johnson has revealed in a video posted online.

Boris Johnson
PA Media

The prime minister, who is self-isolating after testing positive for the virus, said the country would get through the crisis "together".

It comes after England's deputy chief medical officer said it could be six months before life returns to "normal".

The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 1,228.

Preston food company donating 150 daily meals to NHS staff

A food company in Preston is donating up to 150 freshly-made ready meals each day to NHS staff working at Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals during the coronavirus crisis.

Theatres team receive food

Chicken supplier Gafoor Limited, which is owned by the Vaza family, has also donated £100,000 to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to help it during the coronavirus pandemic.

The family also co-own the Imperial Banqueting Suite in St Marys Street North and have offered to make the building available free of charge to the NHS if needed.

Tahir Vaza said:

We want to show our support for those working to keep our city well during this difficult time.

Paula Wilson, head of fundraising for the hospital trust, said thanked the company for its "generosity and kindness".

She said:

It is quite overwhelming the way in which the company has stepped forward to help the trust and its staff.

I know how much the staff appreciate having tea taken care of as that’s one little less worry a day that they have to address.

Region's coronavirus deaths rise by 21

A further 21 people have died from the virus in the North West in the last seven days, bringing the total number of deaths in the region to 68, including Cumbria.

Coronavirus graphic

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the region currently stands at 930.

The region's NHS trusts released the following lists of deaths at their hospitals:

  • Countess of Chester of Chester: 1
  • Lancashire Teaching Hospitals: 2
  • Manchester University Hospitals Trust: 2
  • Pennine Acute Hospitals: 1
  • Salford Royal: 3
  • Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care: 4
  • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay: 7
  • Wirral University Teaching Hospital: 1

Radio station helps 89-year-old woman in self-isolation

When 89-year-old Joan from Garstag called Radio Lancashire last week she was struggling to get help at home.

A staff member who also lives in the town was able to help and put Joan in touch with a local volunteer group.

Joan rang the station a second time to say thank you.

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Fire boss 'astonished' at moorland barbecues

A fire service boss said he is "astonished" by large groups gathering for barbecues on the moors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Saddleworth fire
Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said people were meeting to cook food despite a ban on moorland barbecues after huge fires in 2018.

It also flouts the government's instructions on social distancing.

Fire station manager Dave Swallow said their actions were "dangerous" and urged people to stick to the rules, adding:

It's just amazing how many people don't seem to be getting the importance of the social distancing guidelines.

It's astonishing when you to throw in the fact that people are taking disposable barbecues out there and cooking.

Police get new powers to enforce protection


Anyone continuing to break coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and faces arrest.


People ignoring tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence.

New powers given to police mean no-one will be allowed to leave their home "without reasonable excuse".

The measures come into force on Thursday and will last six months, with a review every three weeks.

To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, police will be able to order people to go home, leave an area or disperse.

The new powers mean officers can:

  • ensure parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules
  • issue a £60 fixed penalty, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
  • issue a £120 fixed penalty for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence

Coping with coronavirus anxiety

BBC News Health

Anxiety UK have experienced a big rise in callers since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Here are some tips on how to cope.

'I don't want you to meet Rebecca or any of her colleagues'

Former Preston North End goalkeeper Alan Kelly has tweeted a video saying he doesn't want anyone to meet his niece Rebecca who works on the front line at the Royal Preston hospital.

He has asked people to "please, please, please stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives".

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Northern closes waiting rooms and opens station barriers

Rail operator Northern has closed all waiting rooms at its stations, opened all gates and barriers and suspended issuing penalty fares until further notice.

Manchester Victoria

The firm, which manages dozens of stations across the north of England, said the closure of waiting rooms was in line with government advice, adding that in the event of bad weather, it would "review the situation and may look to re-open areas if appropriate".

A spokesman added that the opening of gates would mean "passengers do not have to pass paper or season tickets through the barriers or present them to staff", though customers still required a ticket to travel.

Commercial and customer director Mark Powles said:

Our trains and stations remain open for business to help key workers get where they need to be across the north of England.

For those who have to make essential journeys – and for our staff who continue to work across the network – we want to make the railway as safe as possible [and] the measure we have introduced today further limit person-to-person contact.

Our ticket offices remain open to provide help and advice to passengers [but] we will only accept payment via card. Customers who want to pay by cash will be asked to use ticket machines if they are available.

The firm is currently running an amended timetable for key workers and essential travel across all its services.

Lancashire doctor explains the importance of social distancing

Consultant cardiologist Dr Billal Patel from Lancashire Cardiac Centre at Blackpool Hospital explains the importance of social distancing.

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The worry of working in supermarkets and pharmacies

BBC Newsbeat

There are many people around the country who have been following the government's advice around social distancing - that's avoiding going out for non-essential reasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For quite a few of us, that means having to work from home, but that's not an option everyone can take.

Mehfuz Dasu Patel

Mehfuz Dasu Patel helps run a group of community pharmacies in north west England, which serve 250 care homes and deliver medicines to around 20,000 patients.

And those patients are the reason he's still going to work.

If Mehfuz decides to stop working, "vulnerable people will go without medicines", he says, adding:

It's not the sort of business that can just disappear or you can work from home. We have to keep delivering to them, despite what's happening in the world.

Read more about the workers who have go out to work here.

The firms hiring thousands of new staff

BBC Business News

Tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus crisis as restaurants, bars, hotels and gyms have been forced to close.

But many companies still in business are urgently seeking more staff to meet orders, help with deliveries and just to keep things moving.

Man puts hiring sign in a window
Getty Images

The major supermarkets are searching for 35,000 additional workers, but many other firms supplying essential goods or services are also looking for extra help so they can cope with the increased demand.

Home care company Cera has just created 10,000 new jobs for people to work as part of the home carer community.

Meanwhile, chemist chain Lloyds Pharmacy is seeking 1,500 workers across the country in the next few days. And Virgin Media says it needs 500 new people at Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Teesside.

Jobless struggle to claim benefits


Significant problems are being reported after an "incredible" number of benefit claims in recent days due to the economic fall-out of the coronavirus.

People queue at job centre

At one point on Tuesday, more than 100,000 people were trying to verify online applications and others spent hours trying to phone welfare staff.

Many gave up after long phone queues and then being rejected by the system.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it was redeploying existing staff and hiring others to cope with demand.

Lancashire coach gives tips on social distancing cricket practice

One of Lancashire Cricket Foundation's coaches has been giving some ideas about how fielding skills can be sharpened while observing social distancing.

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Thousands sign up to help NHS with vulnerable


More than 250,000 people volunteer in a single day, exceeding the government's target.

Man leaving pharmacy with bag
Getty Images

The helpers are needed for delivering food and medicines, driving patients to appointments and phoning the isolated.

The scheme is one of a number aimed at relieving pressure on the NHS.

About 11,000 former medics have also agreed to return to the health service and more than 24,000 final year student nurses and medics will join them.

Fury says 'listen to Boris, stay indoors'

BBC Sport

Manchester's world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury tells the public to "stay inside" as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic.

Ormskirk Market cancelled until further notice

Ormskirk Market has been cancelled until further notice to prevent social gatherings.

Ormskirk Market

West Lancashire Borough Council said it will "constantly review the situation" and will make an announcement when they can resume.

Councillor David Evans, whose responsibilities include the market, said:

We have cancelled the market until further notice to prevent social gathering and protect the public's safety by helping to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

County's home library service suspended

Lancashire County Council's home library service, which allowed books to be delivered to people in their own homes, has been suspended until further notice, the authority has said.

A council spokeswoman said the decision to suspend the service was taken "following national advice to limit contact between people".

She added:

The authority is currently working closely with the Lancashire Volunteer Partnership to provide replacement telephone befriending support for home library service customers.