There are approximately 120 Community Connector roles across New Zealand, appointed to support local communities in their Covid recovery programmes.
Each area operates differently to meet the needs of their community. Funded by the Ministry of Social Development, Central Otago REAP took up the challenge to provide this support throughout the CODC region.
Helen Adair and Sue Tait share this role and work with communities in Alexandra, Cromwell, Ranfurly and Roxburgh and anywhere in between.
They are mobile and respond wherever they are needed for as long as they are needed.
The Connector roles were established in response to an increase in need for support resulting from the first Covid lockdown.
Covid has impacted on individuals, families and businesses in so many areas – health and wellbeing, particularly mental health, financial security and the ability to meet commitments, relationship issues, employment and housing.
To connect with Helen or Sue, contact can be made through an online registration system, phoning or walking in to either the Alexandra or Cromwell Community House. Referrals by external agencies are often made.
An initial meeting is set up to assess and prioritise needs and to develop a support plan.
Clients will then be connected to the best providers to support them on their recovery journey. Once referred involvement with the client comes to an end, but the opportunity is always there for re-engagement should it be needed.
Some cases are easily connected or solved within a short period of time. Some clients just needed someone to listen. For many issues around finances, housing and providing the basics is huge.
The Connectors have resources available to them which can be used in response to immediate needs such as food, medical costs, emergency travel, or access to professional services. They often stand alongside their clients as an advocate if appropriate. As Covid continues to impact on our lives, Helen and Sue are finding the complexity of needs within our community extensive, especially around mental health issues, and the growing anxiety trend amongst our children. They believe that every problem, no matter the size, has a solution.