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As we head into Easter, we have much to be grateful for two weeks into lockdown. We have come together strongly as a country and in communities to unite against a virus that has and still is destroying so many lives across the world.

Like many of you, I've been able to act swiftly to help keep my family safe by going into our bubble and staying there. It's vitally important that we don't get complacent in our combined efforts to eliminate the spread of this terrible virus. We need to keep it up so that we can shift our sights firmly on recovering from the impacts created by the lockdown.

If you need urgent assistance over Easter, please feel free to contact me and I’ll do what I can to assist. Email louise.upston@parliament.govt.nz or freephone 0508 TAUPO MP.  You can follow me on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates.  My team will be taking a well-deserved break over the Easter holidays but will be back working from their temporary home offices from Tuesday 14 April. 


Alert Level 4 rules reminder

Easter is also traditionally a time when some people go to their holiday homes and baches to have a break or to do some winter-proofing maintenance.  Even if that doesn't apply to you, but you are one of those people thinking of venturing outside of your bubble this long weekend, the message from Police is plain and clear.  Have a safe easter - at home. 

The Health Notice issued on 4 April 2020 provides guidance Alert Level 4 rules and unless you are travelling on essential business, Police have the ability to stop you and turn you back home.   People can also report any non-compliance by others to the Police online at https://www.police.govt.nz/105support or by calling 105.  

We can all get through this together if we simply heed the Alert Level 4 requirements and stay at home.


Education

The Ministry of Education has released an extensive distance learning package today.   If you are a parent like me, you might be looking forward to school starting again next week on 15 April, albeit in a virtual classroom setting.  I've had good feedback from other parents around how well schools have been managing during these unprecedented times and it certainly has provided some food for thought on how we can do innovative learning going forward. 

I know that many schools have been active during the holiday break to develop e-learning and other distance learning options ready for the start of Term 2, but if you have any questions about what it would look like, now is a good time to get in touch with your school so that you can best be prepared next week.  

It's been heartening to read too that learning support for affected families has continued despite the lockdown.  Please continue to look after your young ones and keep them safe!


Mental health kit

A set of tools for coping with the effects of COVID-19 and Alert Level 4 lockdown on our mental health has been released.  The Getting Through Together campaign is an online resource divided into subjects such as parenting and families, workplace wellbeing, identity and culture.  It has a variety of written articles, activities and games delivered in a range of formats including on how to make home learning and working totally doable. This will be a new reality for many of us and the article has some good tips on how to achieve good work, school and home life combo balance.

I really enjoyed the video of Meet Grandad George.  He sums up well what "in isolation, but not isolated" looks and feels like for our elderly and well worth checking out.


Volunteer buddies needed

The Western Waikato Welfare Call Centre is active and taking calls from people who have food, shelter, transport needs.  Please phone 0800 800 405 between 7am and 7pm and someone will help you.

People in need are being linked with volunteer buddies who can assist.  These volunteers are being coordinated through the welfare function team at the local emergency operations centres and follow strict guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health to reduce the spread of COVID-19 including maintaining physical distance, regular handwashing and other self-care instructions.  They are sourced from recognised support agencies with vetting procedures in place including local Rotary clubs, Neighbourhood support, Citizen’s Advice Bureaus, and community houses.

People utilising the service receive assistance with delivery of household goods, grocery items and pharmacy items. Volunteer buddies can also accompany and assist their identified support person to any doctor, hospital or other essential service appointments. Financial assistance requests are to go through to Work and Income on 0800 559 009.

Volunteering Waikato is taking expressions of interest from those who want to support their community during the COVID-19 response.  To register, please visit www.volunteeringwaikato.org.nz.


Other key COVID-19 contacts and resources

  • All COVID-19 related updates - www.covid19.govt.nz 
  • Healthline - for COVID-19 health-related concerns. The call is free and someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0800 358 5453 (or for international SIMs call +64 9 358 5453)
  • All of Government Welfare Factsheet
  • Work and Income - phone 0800 559 009
  • Government helpline - 0800 779 997 (8 am–1 am, 7 days a week). 0800 22 66 57 (9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday)
  • 'Need to talk?' call 1737. Talk with a qualified counsellor free, 24/7

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