Southlanders have been making use of Emergency Management Southland’s (EMS) support centre during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Last month EMS activated an 0800 number, email address and website contact form to ensure every Southlander can access the support they need during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The emergency coordination centre is operational, with strict protocols around physical distancing, and efforts to have staff work remotely where possible.
Duty controller Simon Mapp said although the number of inquiries to the 0800 number, email address and website, had been relatively low, he expected it would increase as time went by.
“Many people had themselves well set up for the initial couple of weeks but we expect pressures will mount as time goes by.
“Calls so far have included people needing assistance with groceries, appliance repairs and prescriptions.”
Some people might never have had to ask for help before but might find themselves in need of assistance. It was important that these people made use of the help available and did not hesitate to contact the 0800 number, he said.
“We want to keep people safe and if that means vulnerable people are calling us to access help with getting groceries, then we really want them to do that rather than take the risk of going themselves.”
The welfare team was working closely with existing community organisations, including foodbanks and volunteer services, who already have established networks.
“We’re seeing lots of great community initiatives to help out those who need it, including coloured pieces of paper in windows to indicate if people need assistance, and individuals and organisations checking in on our most vulnerable.
“It’s important that our whole community pulls together to support each other, which is what Southland always does.
“It’s just a little more complicated and takes more thought at this time as we observe the rules of physical distancing and no-contact deliveries.”
Welfare staff have also been contacting essential services and community groups to check in and provide assistance as required.
The 0800 number will be operated between 7am-7pm, 7 days a week.
Anybody who needed urgent support with essential household goods or services should contact the centre in one of the following ways:
Phone: 0800 890 127