Network Mobilised To Support Wairarapa
A network of agencies and essential services has mobilised across Wairarapa to support people needing extra help during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown.
The Wairarapa Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was activated on March 22 to support the health-led response to managing the spread of the virus.
It has been leading the development of a coordinated welfare response. People are being utilised across the Emergency Operations Centre and existing agencies to help support people who may not have existing support networks in place.
Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said a key focus of the EOC had been ensuring there was a coordinated system for supporting the community that did not contribute to the spread of COVID-19.
“We now have a full system up and running that includes taking calls from people who may not have a support network around them and working with existing local agencies to assist people,” Patterson said.
The EOC has worked with existing community agencies to staff a local helpline, which is specifically for people who do not have existing support networks such as local family and friends.
Other agencies, including Red Cross, are involved in the on-the-ground response with any deliveries that may need to be undertaken.
Mayor Patterson said using existing agencies was a crucial part of the overall welfare response.
“We need to make sure these physical efforts are managed appropriately and are in line with health and safety requirements so they do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of the virus.
“We also need to know exactly what deliveries are undertaken, including where and how they are being carried out so that, if we have to, we can trace where these volunteers have been.”
Foodbanks are also supporting people across the region and a rural advisory group has been set up to ensure rural communities are also receiving support.
The EOC is also working alongside Central Government agencies to facilitate their support; this week it has coordinated an order of cellphones to help the Ministry of Social Development’s support for people in unsafe family environments.
Outside of the coordinated welfare response a range of community groups have emerged with a focus on keeping people connected.
The Facebook group Self Isolation Support – Wairarapa is one example, established by Carterton District Council Deputy Mayor Rebecca Vergunst.
Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said these groups were a valuable way for people to stay connected.
“We know there will be a lot of people who, like me, are itching to get out and about and help other members of their community.
“My advice to these people is just to pick up the phone. Call you friends and family and see what they need – we do not want people unnecessarily walking the streets right now.”