During a pandemic, those in poorer living conditions are affected far more than those with access to basic supplies and protection. They then rely on charities to keep them safe and healthy. We talk to a number of New Zealand charities to see how they’re handling the effects of COVID-19 in New Zealand.
A number of people who would usually donate items and money to charities, have been made redundant from jobs or had their hours or salaries reduced. We talk to three major charity organisations to discover the impact of COVID-19 in New Zealand. Donation links for all charities are listed at the bottom of the article.
Women’s Refuge is known for providing wahine with protection and housing if they have been a part of an abusive relationship. Women’s Refuge, Chief Executive, Dr. Ang Jury says COVID-19 in New Zealand has meant not being able to use safe houses like they used to. “We never want to be in the position of not being able to help those who need us. Fortunately, we received some government funding which allowed us to pay for alternate accommodation, says Jury.”
Jury says that two larger issues have been not being able to receive donations of goods from the public and the misconception that women cannot reach out for help during lockdown. Because of these issues, donations are crucial at this time says Jury. “Food and personal care items (we provide food in safe houses but rely on donations from the public – given the lockdown that has understandably dropped off significantly). Petrol is a factor as our advocates are delivering these items and checking in with clients based in motels.”
Auckland City Mission
Auckland City Mission CEO and Missioner, Chris Farrelly says that he has been overwhelmed with the generosity of people at this time, but the demand is increasing and so must donations to be able to keep up. The Mission has been providing over 1,200 food parcels each week, along with 200 food bags daily to the homeless. “I think that the huge demand for food parcels will continue for many months, perhaps even a year. Families who have never asked before, now come to us because of unemployment, redundancy, or simply just not able to afford food for their families at this time. We are seeing this on a day to day basis. It has been incredibly tough to have to ask some of these families to be patient while we try to keep up with the demand,” says Farrelly.
Farrelly says that it’s concerning that a lot of homeless community members are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 in New Zealand. “We are keeping a close eye on them and checking in on a regular basis to ensure they remain safe and asymptomatic of this virus.”
Farrelly says that one of the Mission’s Senior Practitioners at Crisis Care, Des, shared with him how grateful she is to be able to help within her own community. Des says, “I consider it a privilege that I am still able to work during this time and it has given me a real sense of purpose. Although I don’t get to spend a lot of time with each person who comes in for a food parcel, I can sense when someone wants to have a chat. Often they just want to tell someone about their situation, their problems and they are feeling lost or unsupported. I listen to them, smile, and encourage them the best I can. It seems to calm them and they appreciate it.”
The Salvation Army operates nationwide and runs The Food Bank Project. Salvation Army Assistant Territorial Secretary for Mission, Captain Gerry Walker says they have been trying their best to still care for vulnerable people during this time. They have been offering help via phone calls and online chat, as well as offering contactless food delivery. “The toughest part of the lockdown has been having to help people without being able to see them in person. You gauge a lot about people’s wellbeing by face to face contact. We are concerned particularly for those who are isolated from their community and whānau because they live alone, are vulnerable or are elderly.”
Walker says that those who are living in poverty know what it is like to do it tough. “They have had to make do on low incomes and rely on the support of NGOs such as ours to help put food on the table.” He says they are seeing a growing number of people joining this group through job loss and wage reductions due to COVID-19 in New Zealand.
The Salvation Army expects this increased demand for services will continue for many months to come. Walker says they hope people will continue to help those less fortunate than themselves.
To get in touch with or donate to the charities mentioned in this story, use the information below:
Ring our crisis line on 0800REFUGE
Send a message through Women’s Refuge Facebook Page
Email us on [email protected]
Send a confidential message or speak to a Family Violence expert through our Shielded Site feature widget on The Warehouse, Countdown, NZ Post and many other major websites.
Auckland City Mission
www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz – click on the donate button.
The Salvation Army and The Foodbank Project