Help is at hand for Tararua District residents who might be having difficulty accessing essential supplies during the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown.

A regional helpline has been established at 0800 725 678, with calls first being answered in the Palmerston North City Council call centre. Tararua District callers are then referred to an Emergency Coordination Centre at Horizons Regional Council to discuss their needs.

Once a caller's needs have been established, their information is passed on to the Tararua District Council Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for follow up. The EOC welfare team then kicks into action, making contact with the caller and ensuring their needs are met by either a local support agency or council as necessary.

The 0800 number can be used to access food, medicine (pre-ordered scripts only), heating, bedding and any other supplies considered essential.

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"The 0800 number is in place to support our vulnerable people who don't have access to help through whanau or friends," says Sharon Wards, welfare manager in the Tararua District Council EOC.

"There are some important points callers need to be aware when using the 0800 number," says Wards.

■ The 0800 number is available between 7am – 7pm, seven days a week.

■ Callers will be talked through a range of welfare questions when they first ring.

■ Callers will receive a confirmation phone call from the Tararua District Council EOC.

■ All supplies will be delivered to the caller's doorstep by approved people with identification, wearing protective equipment and driving marked vehicles.

■ Payment for supplies will be discussed with callers and will normally be by invoice from Tararua District Council.

■ Callers will never be asked to provide their bank account or credit card details either over the phone or on delivery.

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"With already strong demand for the service, callers can expect there may be delays of up to 10 minutes or so for calls to be answered," says Wards.

"We are asking people to be patient as there are many people struggling to access the basics of life."

The EOC is also supporting foodbanks across the Tararua District with the support of the two local New World supermarkets in Dannevirke and Pahiatua.

Tararua residents that require support from a foodbank are encouraged to contact them directly or ring the 0800 725 678 helpline.