Lockdown Hero - Steven Price
Head down the hill from Titirangi heading west and you find yourself in the small community of Laingholm. It’s a community that was, during lockdown, exceptionally well connected. And that connection was very much because local, Steven Price, a volunteer with Neighbourhood Support Waitakere, organised a community hub designed to meet the needs of this out of the way community.
Steven says, “Before lockdown nobody could know what was going to happen. So I got together some local leaders, the pastor, fire chief, school principal, and formed a hub. Most had never met before and we discussed how we could link together the specialty skills we each could bring to the table and form a support network for community needs during the crisis.’
We all committed to focus on our areas of strength and use these to support each other. A website, laingholm.net, just for Laingholm, was created. This on its own was a major undertaking.
“From our hub we radiated out to other services and volunteers, creating a database, so food bank delivery, financial advice, conversations, general deliveries, remote schooling, health, mental health, safety advice and childcare could all be covered off.”
The Laignholm Hub also provided links to services and other volunteers who would be able to help.
“The good news story we discovered is that our community really are all ready to help wherever help is needed.”
Steven also managed to set up an 0800 number, no mean feat during lockdown, just for Laingholm. It had voice recognition technology, so whatever service a caller required, the information could be routed to the relevant agency.
Steven says “I knew not everyone in our community had access to the internet, and this could be particularly true for the vulnerable, so I needed to get our message out.” A contacts list mailbox drop was needed. The local church printer was enlisted and a message was posted on Facebook that we needed volunteers’ help for delivery.
“Within 30 minutes we had an amazing response. We ended up with every street of the community covered with a mailbox drop of over 2000 in no time at all.”
Food distribution was the biggest thing and the supermarkets were great, but the contacts made with food drops lead to the discovery of other issues. For example there were people getting anxious about matters as simple as the way to pay a bill online. So help could be provided.
People often just needed someone to talk to. We got three churches up and running quickly and they helped get many locals up to speed with Zoom. A great way to communicate when we couldn't meet in person.
Neighbourhood Support Waitakere is a community led movement that brings people and neighbourhoods together to create safe, resilient and connected communities. They work alongside NZ Police, Auckland Council, FENZ Fire & Emergency New Zealand & Auckland Emergency Management CD to create safe and caring neighbourhoods and communities, reducing the incidents and effects of crime, building community resilience and strengthening community networks to improve the quality of life and enhance well-being.
National Volunteer Week is a time to showcase the many individuals that came together, like Steven, to support their local communities, Who was your Steven Price in your community?
If you want to help others or a cause take a look at our current volunteering opportunities to help make a difference in your community. Or if you are a non-profit organisation and need some helpers, you can find out how to add your volunteer listings here. For corporates, take a look at our employee volunteering programme to see how we can help your team help the community. Otherwise, feel free to contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi - The benefit of Working Together