28 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: South Island communities rally for those in need during lockdown

7:46 am on 28 March 2020

From the desperate circumstances people have found themselves in due to the nationwide lockdown, heart-warming stories have emerged.

Food donations in box. Food parcel.

The Salvation Army has been dropping off parcels to those in need in Queenstown. (File image). Photo: 123RF

Robyn Francis, the manager of Queenstown's community support centre Happiness House, said the community had rallied around the vulnerable to support them during the four-week lockdown.

The Salvation Army prepared parcels of food to deliver to those in need.

"Volunteers are going to pick up and deliver to people who can't get out," she said.

"They might be in isolation or they might have physical disabilities or some other reason why they can't leave their homes, so that's going to the door."

There were other measures in place, such as grocery vouchers, for the town's migrant community which had been particularly hit hard by lay-offs, resulting from the slump in visitors to the area.

"I've talked to a number of immigrants ... and they've been hit really hard by this," Francis said.

"They're still being let go. They've been told 'Okay, I'll pay you for a week and then that's it'.

"Some of them are stranded here. I talked to one lady today and she couldn't get into her country. She was here thinking it would be a temporary thing and now she's suddenly stranded."

Migrant workers were "shocked" by the situation they now found themselves in.

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In nearby Glenorchy, residents helped find accommodation for a homeless man, she said.

"The community there found him a place to stay ... so it was great for him to have shelter, and a bed, and a toilet and he just was ecstatic about that."

However, the accommodation had no power or hot water.

But Work and Income had also come to the party and found him a self-contained unit in Queenstown.

It was heartening to see what was happening, but there was more people in the community could do to help, Francis said.

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