"Significant changes" have been made to how Auckland City Mission will support the city's homeless during New Zealand's nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
At 11:59pm on Wednesday, the Government will escalate New Zealand's COVID-19 response to alert level 4 for four weeks, which will make supporting Auckland's most vulnerable people more challenging.
However, Auckland City Mission CEO Chris Farrelly says the organisation has kept doing its part during crises in the past, and will do again even in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown.
"The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis and we are here again to give support where it is needed most, with our priority being to assist the city's most vulnerable people," he said.
"To do this safely for our clients, staff and volunteers, we have assessed all of our services and made temporary significant changes to some areas."
Helping the homeless
Auckland City Mission will still be providing the homeless with health checks, food, clothing and other essential items - but any face-to-face interaction will be restricted to 15 minutes and physical distancing protocol will be observed.
Haeata, the Mission's community centre and dining room, has stopped offering hot meals and space for socialising. However 'takeaway bags' - filled with nutritious, filling food that lasts for a day - will be available between 11am and 1pm daily.
All community activities at Haeata will be halted during the lockdown.
"We know Haeata is an important place of connection and safety for our street wh
"However at the moment, these changes will enable us to keep everyone safe, whilst still exploring new ways to engage and offer connection to our street wh
Family food parcels
The Mission says it has noticed increased demand already for emergency food parcels due to the financial strain coronavirus is putting on individuals and families.
"[We] expect that to increase further over the next few weeks," Farrelly says.
"The need is particularly from people who have been employed in casual, low-earning roles or who have lost their job but will not receive a redundancy payment. We are preparing for this increase as best we can."
Parcels will be available at the Mission's Distribution Centre during the lockdown, rather than its main site.
The Mission's two transitional housing units, James Liston Hostel and Te Whare H
There are currently changes to service protocols being established that will attempt to guarantee the safety of every person using the units.
"This includes immediately reducing the number of people onsite by moving some residents to other suitable venues," Farrelly says.
Donations to the Auckland City Mission are able to be made - and actively encouraged, given the increase in people needing its services - but only of the financial kind.
No food, toiletries or second-hand goods such as furniture, clothing or household goods can be accepted during the lockdown period.
"The best way people can support the work of the Mission right now during COVID-19 is to donate online or by cheque," Farrelly says.
"We need to keep our sites clear for clients only so can't accept donations of goods right now."
If you'd like to donate, you can do so by clicking here.
Detox programmes, health centre, pharmacy and op-shops
The Auckland City Mission's residential addictions detox service will be closed from Thursday, and those currently using it will be discharged.
The facility will be used to house some people who are removed from transitional housing units during the four-week lockdown.
Meanwhile the Calder Centre, the Mission's primary health service, will remain open beyond the alert level increase. However, most consultations will need to take place by phone or video.
The pharmacy will operate as an essential service but will do so from closed doors, while all op-shops will be closed.