Hundreds volunteer to help others

Andrew Whiley
Andrew Whiley
Otago communities have once again shown their willingness to step up during times of need.

Volunteering Otago was thankful for the "strong" response it received when the nation moved into lockdown.

Chairman Andrew Whiley said it received offers of support from about 700 volunteers and had been busy connecting them to roles, as directed by welfare centres.

It would not be volunteering in the traditional sense.

"Volunteering usually looks like teamwork where people meet and work together ... [Covid-19] is not the same as a community response to a physical disaster," Cr Whiley said.

Tasks would include helping to pick up medication from pharmacies for elderly or immunosuppressed people and taking up Meals on Wheels shifts, but others could not be predetermined.

He said priority had been given to those who had been police vetted, as there were privacy issues due to the nature of the tasks.

"All volunteers are reference-checked and educated to follow strict guidelines to ensure the safety of themselves and those they are supporting."

He had been excited to see how much the organisation’s staff had stepped up, and was grateful for the community’s patience.

It had not been possible to immediately tell people who had responded to a call for Covid-19 volunteers what they would be needed for but they had been understanding.

He thanked those involved for ensuring "caring, strong and resilient" communities.

General manager Leisa de Klerk said it had been important to manage expectations.

"We do not know how long Level 4 will go for and Level 3 restrictions will be similar."

She said having more people available to help would mean more opportunities, but it would be important people stayed safe in the process.

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