Coordinated support for vulnerable and isolated in the capital

27 March 2020

Wellington City Council’s Community Services is working alongside outreach teams and other core support groups in a coordinated approach to look after the more vulnerable members of the city.

A small army of people have been working tirelessly to ensure members of our community that need extra support are receiving it now - and over the next few months, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“With alert level 4 in place and most people required to stay at home, it’s important to think about safe, sensible ways we can reach out to those who need it - so social distancing doesn’t have to mean complete social isolation.

“We are also working with other agencies to ensure that those who don’t have a home, have shelter, those who don’t have food, have access to it, and those who need a helping hand, can find someone to reach out to.

“The most important thing is getting the information about what services are available out there to those who need it. We want to ensure that whatever service or support anyone requires, they know about it, and can access it easily, freely and safely,” adds the Mayor.

Councillor Malcolm Sparrow, Portfolio Leader for Community Resilience, says anecdotal reports are already showing people are doing it tough. 

“We are hearing reports of people really struggling on their own. We need to ensure people living on their own aren’t forgotten. Wherever possible and safe, a note could be left in neighbours’ letterboxes offering assistance. They need to know there are people close by who will assist in whatever way they may be able, while observing the strict guidelines of alert level 4.”

Meanwhile, Wellington City has taken a sector led approach to ensuring the needs of the street community are being met during the COVID-19 response. The agencies included in this are DCM, Ngati Kahungunu, The Wellington Night Shelter, The Soup Kitchen, Wellington City Mission, Wellington Women’s House and the Women’s Homeless Trust.  

All these agencies have been proactive in planning and implementing what they need to do to support their clients; this has included:

  • DCM is moving street homelessness into accommodation and making sure outreach and support services are still available to their clients.  
  • The Soup Kitchen will continue to provide meals for those in need and have moved to a “takeaway” service. This means they can assure the safety of their staff while continuing to support the community. The Soup Kitchen will also provide prepared meals for the Wellington Nightshelter. They are reporting higher than normal volume of people accessing their meals.
  • CD Welfare is continuing to support through household goods and services which included the provision of an awning to weather proof their car park (where they will provide the takeaway meals). 

Emergency food services

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment considers the delivery of emergency food services (food banks, food rescue, food bag deliveries, soup kitchens, etc.) as an essential service. 

This means that emergency food services can continue to provide support to some of Wellington’s most vulnerable residents while New Zealand is at COVID-19 alert levels 3 and 4.  

How to access emergency food services

Wellington City Mission is coordinating emergency food supply across the city

  • Call them on 0800 245 0900 to be connected to your local food bank, or to arrange for food to be sent

Other services available

  • Wellington Student Volunteer Army. Requests for assistance can be left at this page: https://www.vuwsa.org.nz/sva
  • Age concern: Older people in New Zealand - Ask for help and stay connected! We want to make sure you are supported through this pandemic. We are here for you: please get in touch: 04 499 6648 or info@ageconcernwellington.org.nz
  • Wellington Libraries: Visit the eLibrary
  • Psychosocial Support: If you need to talk to someone you can free-call New Zealand’s new national mental health & addictions helpline number 1737  
  • Status of other Community Network groups: Community Networks Wellington 

How you can help

  • Supermarkets and other essential services will remain open so there’s absolutely no need to panic-buy.
  • Financial donations are the best way to help others in need. You can donate online via bank transfer at:

Wellington City Mission: https://wellingtoncitymission.org.nz/want-to-help/donate/

Kaibosh same as City Mission: https://www.kaibosh.org.nz/donatefunds/

Kiwi Community Assistance: https://www.kca.org.nz/help-us/donate-funds

Other key messages

Make sure you stay fire safe. Fire and Emergency is urging New Zealanders to think about fire safety as they self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more info, visit Fire and Emergency NZ.

Reporting breaches

If you have concerns about a gathering of people or an event that breaches the criteria, you can email NHCCselfisolation@health.govt.nz

Whatever your situation, look out for yourself and others, and see the Ministry of Health website for all the latest information and advice on COVID-19. And remember, if you begin to feel unwell, contact Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453, or your GP. The symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, and shortness of breath.