In its first four days Waikato's 0800 800 405 welfare helpline has taken more than 250 calls from people throughout the region struggling to access goods and services, including food and other grocery items.

Western Waikato Emergency Operating Centre (WWEOC) Controller Andrew Loe says this
is welcoming news as it shows the message to seek help through official channels is working.

"Our EOC is geared to deliver welfare services to meet the needs of our communities, and
our welfare team is busy working with the support networks locally to identify vulnerable
groups, assess their needs, and provide the help needed."

Mr Loe says there is still however, a concern in Waitomo, Ōtorohanga and Waipā communities around residents offering to help those in need, as well as people accepting essential goods through unsanctioned sources.

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"It's encouraging to know there are so many caring people in our communities who want to do whatever they can to help, but there are systems in place to access help or to volunteer."

"The health and safety of our communities is paramount and I cannot stress enough that we need to make sure support is provided in the safest possible way," says Andrew.

"Every contact people make outside their bubble comes with a risk of infection. Please stay at home and help save lives."

Those wishing to help their community are asked to register through Volunteering Waikato at www.volunteeringwaikato.org.nz.

To request assistance, please phone 0800 800 405 between 7am and 7pm.