Western Waikato Emergency Operations Centre's welfare team have provided help for 215 individuals and families across the three districts.
Calls for assistance for residents in Waitomo, Otorohanga and Waipa are answered by the Waikato Welfare Call Centre on 0800 800 405, and are sent to the Western Waikato welfare team to connect with support nearby.
Since its establishment on 31 March, the regional call centre has received over 1900 calls for assistance. Of these, 151 have been for western Waikato residents.
Western Waikato Emergency Operating Centre (WWEOC) Controller David Simes says the team have the capacity to help more people.
“Our welfare staff worked hard early on to ensure our elderly and vulnerable community members were identified and linked with support. They set up the volunteer buddy service to provide ongoing support which has been running smoothly for over a month now," Simes said.
"We want to make sure we aren't missing anyone so if you know someone struggling, please ask them to call 0800 800 405 so they can get some help."
In addition to call centre requests and the buddy system, the WWEOC welfare team manages a small number of direct referrals, supports local foodbanks, locates emergency accommodation, and connects people with medical assistance and transport as needed.
People needing help to stay warm can also access the service to get blankets and firewood. Providing companion pet food is also on the list of help available through the Waikato 0800 number.
The welfare team have also set up a health shuttle service while the regional service is not running to help transport people to medical appointments at Waikato Hospital.
Simes reminds people to touch base with people who may not have helpline information.
"People who don't use internet may be missing out on key information about COVID-19 such as what help is available and how they can access that help."
"Please call your koro, kuia, aunties, uncles, cousins, nephews, friends or neighbours and share this information with them while you catch up on the phone."
"We know there are people out there doing it tough. We are here."
In addition to the Waikato Welfare Call Centre - open from 7am to 7pm daily - other helplines are available with a range of assistance options.
Financial Assistance (MSD/WINZ) – 0800 559 009
Mental health - Phone or text 1737 anytime
Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
Anxiety NZ - 0800 269 4389
Lifeline - 0800 543 354
Alcohol & Drug Helpline - 0800 787 797
Family Violence Helpline - 0800 456 450
Victim Support - 0800 842 846
Women’s Refuge - 0800 733 843
0800 HEY BRO (439 276) Rural
Support Trust - 0800 787 254
LGBTQAI+ Helpline - 0800 688 5463
Asian Family Services - 0800 862 342
"There is no shame in asking for help, these are remarkable times," Simes added.
The Waikato Welfare Call Centre will be available throughout the COVID-19 response to provide local assistance for residents across the Waikato region.
Stay home, save lives
Public Information Manager - Western Waikato Emergency Operating Centre
027 382 3218 | email@example.com