More than 5,000 ask for help in Queenstown Lakes

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Otago’s Civil Defence welfare teams have responded to about 6,000 requests for assistance for food and accommodation since the country entered Covid-19 Alert Level 4.

The greatest level of requests have been from the Queenstown Lakes District, where more than 5,000 requests have been received and where there were a number of foreign nationals, many without an income.

Otago Civil Defence Group controller Richard Saunders said most people were needing help with emergency food or temporary accommodation.

“Others are seeking help to access pharmacies, and information on where to access financial support,” he said.

Over 2,300 food parcels or vouchers had been provided to date across the region.

“People who contact civil defence are connected with welfare teams in their local area, whose job it is to connect them with the support or information they need.”

Mr Saunders said that much of that support was being delivered by foodbanks, community groups, social agencies and volunteers who Civil Defence is working closely with.

“There are many fantastic people and organisations across Otago who have put their hands up to help. Many have had to quickly rethink ways to support people from a distance but they have been quick to adapt.”

Mr Saunders recognised the over 700 volunteers who had registered with Volunteering Otago and Volunteering Central.

“It may seem like a small gesture to deliver someone’s groceries or pick up their medication from the pharmacy but these acts are critical to the health and wellbeing of those in need and the contribution of individuals should not be underestimated.”

An Otago COVID-19 Helpline is available for anyone unable to access essentials such as groceries or medicine and can be contacted from 7am until 7pm daily on 0800 322 4000 or by emailing help@otagocdem.govt.nz.