28 Apr 2020

Covid-19 alert level 3: Whānau Ora aims for financial stability of whānau

4:26 pm on 28 April 2020

The South Island Whānau Ora commissioning agency will work with hundreds of whānau during alert level 3 to ensure they can find work or have access to information and services for financial support.

Woman shopping with trolley, holding receipt of grocery items, with food in handing, checking prices.

Photo: 123RF

Te Pūtahitanga o te Waipounamu provided 800 food packs and 500 mobile data packs to whānau, as well as supported 600 whānau with power over the past four weeks.

But chief executive Helen Leahy said Whānau Ora would now shift its focus from a crisis-response to ensuring whānau had a long-term financial plan.

"Many of our families had been in employment and due to Covid-19 had lost their job or because of their health vulnerability it meant that they were no longer able to continue in their work," Leahy said.

"So that was unanticipated but pretty significant pressure on households. Our key focus moving forward is to really transition from crisis-response to working more along the lines of, how can we work with you to plot out what your future will look like."

She said the Whānau Ora navigators would be essential to that work.

"Our navigators are key in that because they are focused on the whole whānau plan, what are the opportunities around education, around new career planning, perhaps.

"We'll need to be working really closely with those helping agencies, with social development in trying to ensure that there's more flexibility about responding to the needs of whānau."

Leahy said a survey conducted by Whānau Ora at the beginning of alert level 4 found nearly 13,000 whānau couldn't afford food to last four weeks.

Food packs and essential supplies would still continue under alert level 3, she said.

"Kai is going to be a huge driver moving forward and we have lots of different ideas about promoting sustainable food, but also creating options like more energy into planting gardens, distributing seed packets, and developing food recipes for low-income families," Leahy said.

"The other big issue we will need to be putting a lot of focus into is energy, power, and heating. As we approach winter, how do we keep warm and reduce our power bills?

"So those sort of crisis-response interventions, they will continue for quite some time, probably for 12 to 18 months as we wait for a vaccine. But we are very clear that we don't want to simply be recipients of the situation, we want to be shaking and defining our future moving forward."

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