Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


‘Here To Help U’ Is Ready To Feed And Support Anyone And Everyone

Immediate aid to the vulnerable, delivered in a way that builds a stronger society after the crisis, is the focus of the COVID-19 relief effort coordinated by the Waikato’s lead social and community service providers and supported by Momentum Waikato and other major local funders.

‘Here to help u through COVID-19’ is a new online community support tool and network centered around a website, www.heretohelpu.nz, where any member of the public can quietly ask for help, and individuals, families, businesses and organisations can securely and easily target their offers of assistance.

It is the ‘front counter’ for a wide and coordinated support effort that aims to ensure anyone suffering hardship during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond can easily request and get the help they need, regardless of their walk of life.

Wise Group and Community Waikato teamed up to coordinate and lead the effort, which involves a range of providers and funders, including (in no particular order) Volunteering Waikato, Kaivolution, The Salvation Army, Trust Waikato, The Department of Internal Affairs, Hamilton City Council and Momentum Waikato, alongside an ever-widening cast of other much-appreciated community groups and organisations.

‘Here to help u’ has now been launched in Hamilton, with plans to expand across the Waikato as soon as possible. The assistance the website offers includes food parcels, prepared meals, a collection service, general local advice and support, mental health care, and safe social connections.

Wise Group joint Chief Executive Jacqui Graham says they are committed to doing whatever it takes to meet the local community’s need and to strengthen the wellbeing of people, whānau and communities.

“It is phenomenal that we’ve been able to get the ‘Here to help u’ website and network up and running so quickly,” says Jacqui.

Community Waikato Chief Executive Holly Snape says many local people are having to ask for food and other social support for the first time.

“The COVID-19 crisis has simply widened the catchment and range of people who find themselves in need through no fault of their own. These are stories we see all the time, there are just suddenly many more of them.

“I hope when we are through the current crisis that there is a wider recognition of this reality and it makes for a more compassionate and understanding society generally. It is time to dispel the stigma around using food banks and other support services, it could be any of us that land up needing them.”

Holly says the ‘Here to help u’ project’s first priority was to restore and reinforce the routine food supply for the vulnerable.

“With the lockdown and the particular susceptibility of the many older volunteers, existing services like food banks lost capacity just when the demand was spiking.

“So, the ‘Here to help u’ working group started off by ‘food mapping’, to identify and address the growing needs and gaps in provision.”

Figures produced by Erana Severne, the Operations Manager at the Wise Group Houchen Hub, confirmed about 70% of Hamilton’s community food support was out of action or close to it at the end of March.

Usually more than 735 hot meals are produced per week, but at the onset of the lockdown that dropped to 100, while the number of food parcels prepared weekly dropped from 329 to 89.

The response to this challenge is now seeing commercial kitchens around the city mobilising to provide local food aid – a number are needed so they can be lightly crewed to maintain safe social distancing.

The big facility playing a part in ‘Here to help u’ are the kitchens at the Claudelands event centre, where meals are being produced to support organisations answering the influx of need in their communities.

Momentum Waikato’s involvement has so far included funding for the online project, involvement in the background research and planning, and material assistance to Wise Group at the ‘Houchens Hub’ in Glenview.

Erana says the former Houchen Retreat was in the process of becoming the Wise Group’s new Wellness Village, but swiftly became known as the ‘Houchens Hub’ as the virus challenge approached.

“We pivoted to meet COVID-19,” she says. “Staff here have been cooking and freezing meals since mid-March.”

Two chest freezers were installed there early on, so the team could get ahead of the demand for food, and the Momentum Waikato Board also released funds to CE Kelvyn Eglinton so he could continue to assist Wise Group to build their relief capacity at the edge-of-town campus.

“It has been great to accelerate our partnership with Wise Group at our Houchen facility,” says Kelvyn.

“Our experience with ‘Here to help u’ is a great example of meeting the current challenges head on by seizing the opportunity to widen and deepen collaboration across different sectors, so we all achieve a greater impact in our collective mission to create positive permanent change for our communities.”

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The America’s Cup, Critical Race Theory And A New, Weekly Music Playlist

So… Why don’t they just cut to the chase, and call it the Emirates Cup? As this column predicted several months ago, the next America’s Cup challenge is headed overseas. Here’s what Werewolf said back in March:
Emirates has made a major commitment to Portsmouth/Isle of Wight as a sailing centre of excellence – and voila, that’s where the next challenger of record is coming from, and where the next Cup contest could well be sailed. Such incredible luck for Emirates, right..? More>>


Marine: Wider Roll-out Of Cameras On Boats To Support Sustainability And Protect Marine Life

Up to 300 inshore commercial fishing vessels will be fitted with on-board cameras by 2024 as part of the Government’s commitment to protect the natural marine environment for future generations... More>>


Government: Plan For Vaccine Rollout For General Population Announced

New Zealanders over 60 will be offered a vaccination from July 28 and those over 55 from August 11, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today... More>>


Jewish Council: New Zealand Not Immune From Rise In Antisemitism

The representative body of New Zealand Jewry, the NZ Jewish Council (NZJC), has expressed concern about the high number of antisemitic incidents in New Zealand recorded last month. Spokesperson for the NZJC, Juliet Moses, said... More>>

NZNO: Nurses Reject DHB Offer And Confirm Strike Action

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation says its 30,000 members who work in DHBs have voted overwhelmingly to reject a second offer in their current round of multi-employer collective agreement (MECA) negotiations... More>>





InfoPages News Channels