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New Zealand

Community organisations 'crying out' for volunteers as over-70s isolate

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 26/03/2020

Civil defence agencies are trying to piece together lists of vulnerable people who need help during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Waikato Civil Defence and Emergency Management group said many volunteer organisations that help the elderly and vulnerable have had to stop operating during the lockdown, because many volunteers are themselves over 70 years old and should isolate more stringently.

"So they can no longer provide health shuttles and meals on wheels services. There will be church and other community groups who support their families and friends in the community who fall within the age bracket that cannot provide that support any more," group controller Julian Snowball said.

Snowball said they are working with councils, organisations and iwi to work out who needs help and how they can assist them.

"Our priority are the people of the Waikato region. This lockdown will result in a number of people who would ordinarily get support from agencies, neighbours or community-based organisations... who are now without that support. Our focus is on identifying those people, so we can ensure they continue to get the support they need and their wellbeing's taken care of."

He said this would be a nationwide approach rather than just the Waikato region.

"We're talking about those who are supported by essential social services but those services are struggling to operate."

He said organisations are "crying out" for volunteers who are healthy and able to pick up some community work, with the Covid-19 pandemic and safety precautions paramount in anything they do. Anyone wishing to volunteer should express their interest at Volunteering Waikato.

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