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Welfare networking helps to close the gaps


An initiative beginning this week will allow older people, required to stay at home but without internet banking, to pay for their groceries, taking some of the pressure off the Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management’s (HBCDEM) welfare response. 

Over the last few weeks HBCDEM has linked up with community organisations and agencies to create a “network of networks” working collaboratively with HBCDEM to look after the welfare needs of the Hawke’s Bay community. 

The network of networks encompasses all sectors, from the migrant community to children, Māori, Pasifika and older persons. 

Others providing support in the older persons network include Hawke’s Bay DHB, iwi, home health agencies, friendly societies, respite day and residential care providers, local authorities and other advocacy groups. 

In an example of this structure working exactly as it was intended, three of these agencies have got together to provide a solution for older persons who have the money, but no way to pay for the goods they need, says Kirstin Thompson who is leading the network of networks older persons response. 

 “There are many people aged over 70 who are at home and have an eftpos card, but don’t have internet banking or a credit card to pay for things online. 

“We have been working with the Ministry of Social Development, Age Concern and the New World supermarkets in Hastings and Greenmeadows and come up with a voucher system that solves this problem.” 

Kirstin says that with an MSD grant, Age Concern bought food vouchers that can be redeemed at the supermarkets, and now some mobile eftpos machines have been hired as well. 

“When nana rings Age Concern with her shopping list or leaves the list in the mailbox, there’s about 30 volunteers who take the orders and pick up the shopping using the vouchers. 

“When they drop the supplies off nana can now pay back the vouchers using eftpos. 

“Before this a large majority of the food box requests going to HBCDEM were from people in this situation who had no other option. 

 “Now we have closed the loop and resolved the problem so there is less demand on the emergency response. 

“It’s very cool - it’s the magic of the network of networks approach.” 

The people using the service are finding it works well and are even starting to send their shopping lists directly to the volunteers delivering their orders, following the physical distancing rules. 

Deon Jordaan, who is no longer able to continue his day job with the Havelock North community patrol because of the alert Level 4 restrictions, is one of those volunteers helping out others in need. 

He says it’s really rewarding. 

“I’ve got people starting to email me directly with their orders now – it works really well.” 

Havelock North Age Concern manager Carol Winters agreed the system was working well and made special mention of her Napier counterpart Morag Hill who she said had been “tireless” in rolling out this initiative, at the same time as coordinating the frozen meal deliveries. 

HBCDEM Group Controller Ian Macdonald says this emergency has resulted in many innovative solutions being developed between business, community groups, iwi and government agencies.   

“These relationships will be enduring and can only enhance the ongoing resilience of Hawke's Bay to disasters.” 

For urgent support, call 0800 HBAYCD (0800 422 923). 

For more information on COVID-19, visit

15 April 2020

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