Coronavirus: Kiwi teachers in London help their community during lockdown

While nurse Jenny from Invercargill made global headlines for keeping British Prime Minister Boris Johnson alive, there are plenty of other New Zealanders helping the UK battle the COVID-19 crisis. 

A group of Kiwi teachers in north London are keeping their school running and their struggling community fed. 

Michelle McDonald is one of four Kiwi teachers at Mill Hill's Orion Primary. She's usually in the classroom, but with the lockdown the vast majority of the 1000 pupils have to stay at home.

"Those families are really struggling so they come in and help themselves to what we call our foodhub. A family of one child can take five items, anymore and it increases with however many in the family," she says.

The school is in a poor area, and the foodhub initiative has been vital in keeping families fed.

"They love it, they love coming in, they stand at a distance at the door," McDonald says.

Not all the students are at home, there are 34 pupils who come to school because their parents or caregivers are essential workers.

"They work as police and stuff. My parents don't like it, they think it's boring but they can get through it," student Alfie says.

Helping the kids get through it is Samoan Kiwi Salavao Maava who's been teaching in the UK for 20 years.

"This is like nothing we've experienced before," she says.

She makes daily work packs for her students and phones them each week, and she teaches those who come in.

Over in the school's kindergarten is Emma Campbell, another Kiwi teacher, who is keeping young children occupied.

But day-in-day-out, Campbell and her colleagues don't shy away from work - work she says is often overlooked.

"When they talk about it on the news, you go 'yeah teachers are here too, we've been working the whole time'. Schools haven't fully shut down, we're still coming in," she says.

School principal Chris Flathers loves his Kiwi teachers - especially during the current crisis: 

"They're amazing working with our teams, and many friendships have happened over all these years, so keep on coming guys," he says.

But being so far away from home though is taking a personal toll.

"There was that bit of me that said 'you know what, I'll just go home and ride it out there', but my life is kind of here," McDonald says.

"It's the numbers aye, when you hear the daily numbers of how many have died, and then compare that to back home, there's no comparison, there's no comparison. It's pretty real here," Maava says.

These Kiwis are busy making a real difference to the lives of thousands of kids and their families.