Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Hamilton dishes up to those in need

Hamilton City Council staff have taken their passion for the community to new levels, by helping to feed those in need.

Hamilton City Council, through Civil Defence, partners with a large number of kai providers, including ‘Here to Help U’, a not-for-profit online organisation which links people in need with relevant organisations.

For Council’s Community and Social Development Manager and local Civil Defence Welfare Manager, Philippa Clear, answering a call for help from her community isn’t a job, it’s a privilege.

“The number of people reaching out to ‘Here to Help U’ at the start of the August 2021 lockdown was five to six times what it normally is,” said Ms Clear.

In particular, ‘Here to Help U’ was seeing a huge increase in the demand for food, she said.

“The small lockdown extensions of four to five days made it even more difficult for organisations to plan ahead.”

To reduce the pressure on local organisations, her team applied for funding through the Ministry of Social Development as well as local funders, Trust Waikato and WEL Energy Trust to get food parcels to families in need.

But an undertaking this vast and in such a short time frame required a big enough facility and established resources, said Ms Clear.

“That’s where the Hamilton City Salvation Army came in.”

“Rather than working with multiple organisations and individuals, it needed to be streamlined. The Salvation Army had what was needed to facilitate a large-scale food parcel system that met the needs of the Hamilton community,” she said.

Preparing that many food parcels required volunteers – and Ms Clear turned to her colleagues at the Hamilton City Council.

Over the past few weeks, more than 50 Council staff members and their families have been doing their bit to feed Hamilton families.

“It’s amazing that people are prepared to drop what they were doing and give up a sunny Saturday afternoon or midweek evening to produce food boxes. Even though it’s outside their normal contract and day-to-day work, Hamilton City Council staff answered the call.”

“Since August we have supported in the preparation of 6000 food parcels.

“We have got an incredible group of people in our community who are meeting the emergency food needs of Hamiltonians – and for Hamilton City Council to be able to partner with them and see incredible things achieved, just shows what a great city we are and that we work really well together.”

If you and your family need support with food parcels or someone to talk to, reach out to Here to Help U or phone the Ministry of Social Development on 0800 559 009.

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