Staying well through winter: be prepared

Winter can be a challenging time. Viruses spread more easily. Cold and damp weather can aggravate existing health problems and make us more vulnerable to respiratory infections. But there’s lots you can do to prepare yourself and stay well this winter.

It’s important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

On this page you’ll find advice to:

Keep your medicine cabinet well-stocked

Keep yourself active

Keep your home warm

Look out for others

Keep your medicine cabinet well-stocked

Ask your local pharmacist for advice

Ask your pharmacist what medicines should be in your cabinet to help get you and your family through the winter season. Many over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, are available to relieve symptoms of common winter ailments such as colds, sinusitis or earache. Your pharmacist can help if you need any advice.

Order your repeat prescriptions in time for Christmas

Make sure you get your prescription medicines before your pharmacy or GP practice closes for Christmas. And, if you’ve been prescribed antibiotics or any other medication, make sure you take them as directed. Please don’t go to your GP or pharmacy if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or flu or if you are self-isolating.

You can order prescriptions via GP or pharmacy websites and apps or by calling them. Ask a friend, relative or volunteer to collect medicines for you if you’re unable to go yourself. You can also order your repeat prescriptions via the NHS App, as well as make GP appointments. The NHS App is available on the App Store and on Google Play. For more information visit

Vitamin D supplements

Between October and March, sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation for our skin to be able to make vitamin D. During these months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources and supplements. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

Some people are more vulnerable to being deficient, such as those who are less mobile and spend most their time indoors. If you’re unsure whether you’re getting enough vitamin D, ask your pharmacist, GP or health visitor about taking a supplement.

Back to the top.

Keep yourself active

How and why it’s important to keep moving over the winter

Where possible try to keep moving when you’re indoors. Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so and wear several layers of light clothes – several layers trap warm air better than one bulky layer.

Regular exercise can help improve your mental health, reduce the risk of falling and can be beneficial for recovery if you do get ill.

There are many activities you could do at home, such as walking up and down stairs, dancing, gardening, housework, or taking part in online fitness classes. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it’s something you enjoy and keeps you moving.

Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel comfortable and trust your instincts about your own limits. Stop if you’re feeling any pain or lightheaded and stay hydrated.

Useful links

NHS Get Active – NHS fitness apps and workouts you can do at home.

Sport England – list of useful apps and links to online workouts, including workouts for older adults, with kids and disabled children.

Get Active – online exercises workouts, including ones suitable for older people and

those living with a health condition.

Back to the top.

Keep your home warm

Help and advice to make sure your home is warm through the winter

Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F) as breathing cold air can be bad for your health as it increases the risk of chest infections.

Make sure you’re receiving all the help that you’re entitled to. There are grants, benefits and plenty of ways to make your home more energy efficient, improve your heating or get help with bills.

For tips and practical advice on how to reduce your energy bills, stay warm and well in winter, apply for energy-efficiency grants and support with housing-related issues, visit the council’s webpages: save energy and keep warm in your home.

Age UK Lambeth MYCommunity Service

Age UK Lambeth run a helpline service that you can call for general help advice. They’ll tell you about support that’s available locally and they can also do a welfare benefit assessment to see if you are eligible for Pension Credit or other benefits to help you pay for winter fuel bills.

Call: 0333 360 3700

Opening hours: 9 to 5pm, Monday to Friday (a voicemail will be on outside of these hours).

Age UK Lambeth HandyFix Service

If you’re 65 and over, or 55 + with a long-term health condition, Age UK’s HandyFix Service can help you with practical ways to keep your house warm, including free insulation for doors, windows and radiators.

Call: 0333 360 3990.

Opening hours: 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday (a voicemail will be on outside of these hours).

Back to the top.


Man with headphones on laptop laughing

Look out for others

Tips for supporting your loved ones

Remember that other people, such as older neighbours, friends and family members, may need a bit of extra help over the winter months. There’s a lot you can do to help people who are more frail than you:

  • Make sure they’re stocked up with enough food supplies for a few days, in case they can’t go out and if they do need to go out in the cold
  • Encourage them to wear shoes with a good grip and a scarf around the mouth to protect them from the cold air.
  • Ensure they get any prescription medicines before the Christmas holidays start and if bad weather is forecast.
  • If they need help over the holiday period when the GP practice or pharmacy is closed or they’re not sure what to do, remind them NHS 111 can help.

Volunteer opportunities in Lambeth

Local charities are always on the lookout for volunteers over winter. There are lots of different ways you can take part in activities, community workshops and programmes in the borough. Register here for local volunteering opportunities.

Back to the top.