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Led by Peter Mackay, a long-serving member, the Red Cross Community Relief Team in Katikati has been delivering Meals on Wheels, food parcels and providing emotional support to people in need during COVID-19 Alert Level 4.
“On the first day of the lockdown, many of our regular Meals on Wheels delivery people had to stay indoors because they were over 70 years old,” says Peter. “Within two hours we had recruited six new volunteers and the deliveries went on. The Meals on Wheels service is growing now, but we have more capacity for delivery that we can expand on to meet future needs.”
With many older people in the community required to stay home and stay safe during Alert Level 4, groups are rallying to ensure that no one goes without. While online ordering systems struggle to cope with demand, Red Cross teams along with RSA, Katikati Community Centre, Katch Katikati and Katikati Taiao are working together to shop for and deliver essentials to people in need.
Maggie Jack, a recipient, says her food parcel was a joy to receive.
“To my surprise a Red Cross van pulled into my drive quite early. My heart stopped,” explains Maggie, who immediately thought something had gone wrong. “Then I realised it was my groceries. I felt excited yet humbled that here I was having people come to serve me.”
“Unpacking was like delving into a Christmas stocking – it was fun checking off my list,” says Maggie.
Maggie is grateful for the support from her community.
“It was odd having to keep my distance when my usual instinct would be to give a hug.”
Red Cross volunteers who are aged 70 or older or are immunocompromised are also involved in the response, providing a phone service to people who have been referred through other agencies, to identify needs and provide emotional support.
Peter is humble about the efforts of his team, saying that they are “a small cog in a very busy machine” and that the support they are providing is part of a united initiative.
The Katikati Branch of New Zealand Red Cross has been active in their community for more than a century. People interested in becoming a member can contact Branch Chairman Maurice Fletcher on 549 5599. If you're based outside of Katikati, find out how you can volunteer by following the link below.
Supporting Kiwis during COVID-19
The Alert Level 4 lockdown in place due to COVID-19, and the additional restrictions on people over 70, have impacted the way we work. However, our commitment to supporting vulnerable Kiwis, now more than ever. Red Cross volunteers are still delivering around 11,500 meals a week to people across Aotearoa, while also checking in on their wellbeing.