By Luke East
Church-leaders are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on those who are already isolated and vulnerable.
Te Awamutu’s churches are some of those most active in providing support to those in need, but their usual activities have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
Jamie Budd of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church says that when the region moved to Level Two in September after three weeks of being unable to gather, the “joy and happiness on people’s faces” was clear to see. Now with Te Awamutu in Level 3 once more those in-need are again isolated and feeling “real emotional stress and pressure” as a result.
Julie Guest of St John’s Anglican Church says that “even at Level 2 providing food to those in need was challenging, we had been preparing to offer our usual Community Meals in bags but the move into Level 3 shut us down again”.
She says being isolated is likely to be have a significant impact on the mental health of the most vulnerable.
In normal times St Andrew’s runs a Friday night meal for “anyone needing support and company all over a nice hot meal that is fully provided for free.”
St John’s Anglican Church runs a Monday evening Community Meal in conjunction with St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Te Awamutu Bible Chapel puts on a Wednesday morning Community Cafe during term-time and many other Te Awamutu churches have similar outreach programmes.
But during Level 3, despite historically being places of refuge for those in need, not one of these churches has been allowed to open its doors.
As a result of the churches being unable to run their usual programmes under the current restrictions Kai4All organiser Tuhiao Williams Halling says demand is much greater and many produce growers and hospitality businesses have been dropping off their unused food resources to help Kai4All to feed those most in need.
Those in need of urgent assistance can contact 0800 KAI4ALL.