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Civil Service

Facing the coronavirus pandemic together

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A Brilliant Civil Service, Civil Service Leaders, Health & Wellbeing
Sir Jonathan Jones
Sir Jonathan Jones, Permanent Secretary of the Government Legal Department and Civil Service Health and Wellbeing Champion

I am the Civil Service Health & Wellbeing Champion, and I want to thank my fellow civil servants and those in the wider public sector for keeping government services running and protecting society in the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

This national health emergency is a fast-moving situation that no one has faced before. We’re learning and adapting, responding to changing circumstances and facing the unknowns and uncertainties together. What doesn’t change is our commitment, collaboration and innovation.

Across the Civil Service, we are doing our jobs while looking after ourselves and loved ones to slow the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable. And everyone is affected by the major changes which are happening to all aspects of society and our way of life.

Most civil servants are now working from home, using video and collaboration tools to help manage the emergency, keep serving the public, maintain necessary corporate functions, and support the government and stakeholders. But there are also many frontline, operational and other key workers remaining on site or in the field to deliver essential public services.

We can all be proud of our role in continuing to provide world-class public services over this exceptionally challenging time.

Health and wellbeing help and guidance

The big changes we are seeing to the way we work and live are capable of affecting our own health and wellbeing, especially as we adapt to working remotely, balancing caring responsibilities, cancelling planned holidays and social events, and potentially entering self-isolation to contain the virus. 

There is help and guidance available on how to cope with these changes. The new Coronavirus (COVID-19): Looking After Your Wellbeing and Mental Health Toolkit gives practical advice on keeping your mind and body active, managing personal and work-related stresses, and how to stay engaged and connect with others. 

In addition, there is working-from-home guidance to help teams adjust to remote working. Between them these guides cover such issues as exercise, loneliness, keeping in contact with family and friends, coping with financial hardship, and maintaining a healthy work/life balance in this new environment. Contact your HR teams about these guides, use them yourselves and in your teams.

Your HR team will also have details of your departmental employee support service, and of other sources of advice and support which are available. And the GOV.UK coronavirus page has the latest government guidance on what you need to do. Our staff networks are also working hard to share learning, hints and tips which will help support us all. 

I’m thinking about my own wellbeing over this period too. As a couple of examples of what I’m doing: I’m fortunate to have a garden, which will be getting more attention than it’s used to; and I’ve started to keep a daily log – much too grand to call it a diary, but it is helping me to keep track and collect my thoughts.

These are going to be very difficult times. But there are things we can all do to look after ourselves. And no-one should be unsupported. Please use these resources, take care of your own wellbeing and that of others, and reach out for help if you need it.

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  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you Sir Jonathan for your continued support at senior level in the wellbeing space. As the Chair of the FCO Staff Association Wellbeing Network, I welcome this guidance.

    As a Peer Support Network we had looked to provide the foundation in terms of guidance and have been encouraged how a large number of our membership have stepped up to build on this and offer advice, guidance and support to others based both here and on our Global Platform.

    I believe that the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week in May is Kindness. I believe that we have already seen some fastastic examples of kindness and compassion!

  2. Comment by Denise Johnson posted on

    As per Dave Chambers Post, I am an ex Border Force and visa Officer, also willing to assist where required. Please respond here if I can help in anyway.

  3. Comment by Emma Warren posted on

    Hi, thank you for your comments. Please can I make a suggestion that information is also fed out via channels that don't require intranet, HRMS, etc. As someone who is wfh and is not in the fortunate position of having a MODnet laptop, I have no access to any of the usual channels of information. Things like the toolkit can surely be made readily available to all, perhaps on Civil Service learning or some other platform that is available to people at home via their own laptops?

    • Replies to Emma Warren>

      Comment by The Blog Team posted on

      Hi Emma,

      Thanks for your comment.

      The COVID-19 Wellbeing guidance is now available on the Learning Platform for Government, at this link.

  4. Comment by Dave Chambers posted on

    As a retired CS I would willingly offer my time to assist colleagues who, for whatever reason cannot deliver their usual services. Is there a view about how or if this could work? I’m thinking along the lines of the NHS returners. Keep safe

  5. Comment by The Blog Team posted on

    Thank you for reading Jonathan Jones's blog and for your interest in the new wellbeing guidance. The HR and Wellbeing leads in your departments have access to the 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): Looking After Your Wellbeing and Mental Health Toolkit' and 'Working-from-home guidance' and should be updating intranet and people management guidance on supporting employees during the coronavirus pandemic. In any event, feel free to contact your line manager, or HR or wellbeing leads if you are in any doubt.

    Stay safe.

    The Blog Team

    • Replies to The Blog Team>

      Comment by Angie Brown posted on

      As an ex Civil Servant and now running Mid Wiltshire and Somerset Relate, I would like to remind Civil Servants past and present that you have free access to Relationship counselling with Relate. This extends to support for all of your dependants. We support all relationship!

      All of our relationships can be tested at this unprecedented time. We support families, individuals and young people.

      Relationships can be under pressure, some isolated experience loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression. Children are at home and may need help, adults can access individual counselling and support for is available for all of your relationships.

      Confidential Counselling sessions are available via our Webcam, telephone or online support.

      Our website helps you to navigate issues you may have if you don't want to speak to someone.

      All of our highly trained counsellors can help.
      Call us on: 0300 003 1781
      or Visit our website:

      Help us to help you!

  6. Comment by Lucinda Gasson posted on

    I can't see a link to the toolkit. Please can you advise how I can access/share this with my colleagues. Thanks.

  7. Comment by David Hallam posted on

    This looks really helpful. Could you include a link to the toolkit please?

  8. Comment by Heather Lewis posted on

    Thanks for this update. Is there a link to the mental health toolkit please? We would like to share it with our staff.