A new group is calling for volunteers to help vulnerable people in the Kerikeri community get through the next four weeks of nationwide lockdown.
In a bid to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus the Government has ordered almost everyone in the country to stay home, apart from essential trips for food or medicine, for at least a month. People aged over 70 are urged not to go out at all.
However, the lockdown could pose difficulties for the elderly, the unwell and those with limited access to transport — so a newly formed group is calling for volunteers to lend them a hand.
Kerikeri Volunteering spokesman David Fisher said prescription deliveries and grocery shopping would be a pressing need for people who couldn't leave their homes.
Initially the group was looking for volunteers with a full driver's licence, who weren't in groups considered vulnerable to the virus, and were able to use their own vehicle. Ideally volunteers would have undergone police vetting in the past three years.
It was important, however, the group did not make the situation worse or put volunteers at risk.
''So we won't be putting people on the ground, or encouraging people to leave their homes to help, without guidance from health authorities.''
Kerikeri Volunteering was also contacting organisations that worked with the vulnerable and were likely to need help during the lockdown.
''We've already had a few groups and individuals come to us with needs that are pressing now and will be severe within a week.''
One such organisation is Hospice Mid Northland, which provides palliative care in people's homes and normally has a roster of 12 volunteer drivers delivering medical equipment over a large area.
However, Covid-19 restrictions requiring anyone aged over 70 to stay home had slashed the number of drivers to three, Hospice Mid Northland chief executive Belinda Watkins said.
An appeal for help on social media had received a good response so she was hopeful deliveries could continue.
Meals on Wheels, which delivers to 23 people in the Kerikeri area, is believed to be in a similar predicament.
Fisher also anticipated a need for volunteers who could offer support or advice over the phone.
The new group was focussing on the Kerikeri-Waipapa area to keep it manageable but hoped to link up with similar groups in other areas to make sure no one was left out.
Update from Kerikeri Volunteering:
We wanted to let people know what we were doing and what we believed was the best way for people if our communities to help each other through the Covid-19 outbreak.
Since calling for volunteer support on Sunday, there has been a tremendous response from people wanting to help organise or to provide help to others. Thank you.
As New Zealand has moved to respond to the lockdown phase, others have also moved to identify and manage community response.
Among those are organisations with established networks and systems such as Volunteering Northland. Those systems are up and running, and they are starting to place people in areas where a need has been identified.
We believe the best way you can help as a volunteer is to register with Volunteering Northland. You can do so here: https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/organisations/register