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St Vincent de Paul Society Wellington (Vinnies) has adapted its welfare and support services to provide essential service packs to individuals and families struggling throughout the COVID-19 Level 4 lock-down.

“We’re ensuring our community has access to essential items which we hope will help give them some peace of mind over this uncertain time, as well as help free-up any extra cash to go towards additional food and bills” says Manager, John Rossbotham.

These packs cover three key needs: food support, baby material support and winter goods such as warm clothing, bedding, heating and cookware. A small team of six key staff, including two delivery drivers are continuing to work from the Newtown Welfare and Service Hub to answer incoming calls and distribute packs.

“Often people are simply relieved you have answered their call as they struggle to get through to overwhelmed government support lines” says Communications and Marketing Manager, Millie Lambess.

“For many single parents and people living on their own, there is comfort in knowing they aren’t alone and have the support of a service like Vinnies throughout the lock-down.”

Alongside this practical support, the Vinnies Community Social Worker is continuing to work closely with on-going cases and Vinnies Members are calling isolated elderly to check-in with them each week.

“I am concerned at the impact of social isolation and stress on those already experiencing life challenges, including sole parents, those living alone or struggling with mental health. Once people are assured they have support for basic needs, they are verbalising anxiety around their safety, or their family’s safety. Emotional and psychological support is going to be very important the longer this lockdown continues, and ability to provide personal human connection will be a priority” says Community Social Worker, Tania Martin.

Since the lock-down began, the Newtown centre has seen a 380% increase in people accessing its services, with the majority in need of food. Bulk orders of food and essential items are being purchased on a weekly basis by the Society with fresh produce continuing to come in from Kaibosh and local restaurants such as Where’s Charlie? who donated fresh produce after they closed.

With the closure of the main funding source, Vinnies Op Shops and unable to accept drop-off food donations from the public, St Vincent de Paul Society Wellington is calling on the wider community to consider making a cash donation towards the purchase of food bank supplies.

Donations can be made vinnies-wellington.org.nz/donate.

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