16 April 2020
Civil Defence continues to receive daily requests for assistance with food and accommodation from residents and visitors who remain in Otago due to the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions.
Welfare teams across the region have responded to nearly 6,000 requests since the lockdown began three weeks ago. Requests for help have been greatest in the Queenstown Lakes District with more than 5,000 received to date and where a number of foreign nationals remain, many of whom are without an income. Over 2,300 food parcels or vouchers had been provided to date across the region.
“Most people we are assisting are those needing help with emergency food or temporary accommodation. Others are seeking help to access pharmacies, and information on where to access financial support,” said Otago Civil Defence Group Controller Richard Saunders.
“People who contact civil defence are connected with welfare teams in their local area, whose job it is to connect them with the support or information they need.”
Mr Saunders said that much of that support was being delivered by foodbanks, community groups, social agencies and volunteers who Civil Defence is working closely with.
“There are many fantastic people and organisations across Otago who have put their hands up to help. Many have had to quickly rethink ways to support people from a distance but they have been quick to adapt.”
Mr Saunders recognised the over 700 volunteers who have registered with Volunteering Otago and Volunteering Central.
“It may seem like a small gesture to deliver someone’s groceries or pick up their medication from the pharmacy but these acts are critical to the health and wellbeing of those in need and the contribution of individuals should not be underestimated.”
Mr Saunders said Otago’s Civil Defence welfare teams had increased in size over the course of the Level 4 lockdown both to meet the needs of those who need assistance and ensure information is reported back to the Government.
“The needs of our vulnerable people are going to continue for some time and we are ensuring our teams are resourced to be able to meet the needs in our communities.”
An Otago COVID-19 Helpline is available for anyone unable to access essentials such as groceries or medicine and can be contacted from 7am until 7pm daily on 0800 322 4000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.