The city was chosen as New Zealand’s seventh refugee resettlement location last month. Since then, Red Cross has received dozens of inquiries about volunteering, donating and other ways to support resettlement in Southland.

Red Cross Southern Humanitarian Services Manager Sue Price says Southlanders have already started showing their famous southern hospitality, with schools, community groups, businesses and individuals getting in touch and wanting to know how they can help.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from the community. I look forward to the people of Invercargill and Southland getting behind this opportunity to respond to an international humanitarian need by doing what they do best: being a warm, friendly, welcoming community.”

Red Cross staff and volunteers support former refugees once they arrive in the community for up to 12 months. Volunteers, who undergo comprehensive training, are a friendly face for new families, helping them get to know the community and access local services.

Red Cross will put out the call for volunteers closer to arrival day, but many people have already started registering their interest, Sue says.

Generous Southlanders have also been keen to donate items to help families arriving in Invercargill.

Red Cross will be able to accept donations of household goods once suitable storage space has been found. In the meantime, people who want to help can consider donating cash to help new Kiwis settle in, Sue says.

“We know that monetary donations are so valuable in the first year of resettlement, particularly for helping families with firewood, school costs, and transport costs.”

Rebuilding lives in Aotearoa

New Zealand accepts about 1,000 refugees every year. After spending six weeks at the Department of Immigration’s Mangere Resettlement Centre, they move into their new homes and are supported by Red Cross in six resettlement locations: Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin, with Invercargill preparing to welcome families later this year.