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Stepping up to help emergency response

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Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has delivered more than 1000 food parcels and close to 50 winter clothing and blanket packages to people in hardship because of the COVID-19 lockdown, with the help of around 40 redeployed council workers and 16 staff from The Development Hub.
Group Welfare Manager Alison Prins said a regional 0800 welfare line was set up in April at the request of the New Zealand Government, to meet the immediate basic needs of people until other services and supports could step in.
“This is a very stressful time for many people in Hawke’s Bay – sudden hardship is difficult to deal with and for many people, this is the first time they’ve had to ask for help,” Mrs Prins said.
“While most people are continuing to shop normally for their essential products, there are a small number of people facing real hardship and who need greater support.”
The welfare line is staffed by workers from Hawke’s Bay’s five councils and The Development Hub – a local organisation that provides employment, training and education opportunities to people, including young Māori and Pasifika women, sole parents and those returning to the workforce.
With previous contact centre experience, The Development Hub was able to stand up the contact centre in a short timeframe and provide resources to assist in managing and staffing the lines.
Mrs Prins said the welfare line was mostly helping people who urgently needed basic food items, and essential items such as toiletries.
“We’ve also been helping people who don’t have warm winter clothing because they’re in emergency or transitional housing, or who are facing colder days with no warm blankets.”
The Government is covering the cost of the products, while Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Group is operating the contact centre to respond to calls and co-ordinating the supply, packaging and delivery of care parcels.
Mrs Prins said it had been a massive logistical undertaking to get the welfare service set up, including partnering with local supermarkets and logistics companies.
“And of course, our welfare service is just part of a region-wide, multi-agency effort that’s gone into getting people the help they need.”
Hawke’s Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group has partnered with a number of organisations to deliver welfare services during the COVID-19 response.
These include organisations working with iwi and Pacifika communities, migrant communities, children, older persons, visitors, rural communities, disability networks, the homeless, and others. 
Those needing help in Hawke’s Bay can call the welfare line on 0800 922 423.
For more information on COVID-19, visit

9 June 2020

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