Manawatū-Whanganui Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group activates dedicated welfare helpline

The Manawatū-Whanganui Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MWCDEM) Group has activated a dedicated welfare helpline to assist with local access to household goods and services such as food, water, clothing and bedding.

The Freephone number, 0800 725 678, will be available from 7am until 7pm, seven days a week, and is a service for people not able to make arrangements through their own support networks.

MWCDEM Group Welfare Manager Jeanie Boost-Turner says many of the region’s city and district councils have arrangements in place for delivering welfare needs at their local level.

“This helpline also does not replace other welfare support agencies, such as Ministry for Social Development, Ministry for Primary Industries, and Salvation Army, who already have systems in place for responding to COVID-19,” says Miss Boost-Turner.

“What the MWCDEM welfare helpline does do is allow us to ascertain need at a regional level, coordinate welfare needs, and distribute goods and services where they are needed most.

“It will also enable us to report up to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

“The 0800 number is being run by a dedicated welfare call centre at Palmerston North City Council who will triage welfare enquiries for the city before transferring all other regional enquiries through to Horizons Regional Council.

“From there, local enquiries will be passed onto the relevant city or district council, all of which have dedicated welfare teams within their incident management teams or emergency operations centres ready to support their communities.

MWCDEM Group Controller Craig Grant says welfare is the biggest concern for the region’s COVID-19 response.

“Self-isolation means many of our most vulnerable are struggling to access essential services. We have heard of an elderly lady who had not left her home for days and had run out of food,” says Mr Grant.

“It is important that everyone in our community has access to what they need to get through.

“We encourage our region’s residents to review the website’s help and advice pages to find out what welfare, financial and health services are available first. And then, if your questions are unanswered or if you need access to local service, call 0800 725 678.

“Our Civil Defence Manawatū-Whanganui Facebook page will also continue to provide updates on what is happening locally and all national information can be found at

“Everyone can do their part and check in on neighbours, friends and family and let them now about services available.”