IHC launches COVID-19 emergency response fund

Media release

9 April 2020


IHC has launched an emergency appeal to help families in lockdown support children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

IHC General Manager Janine Stewart says the organisation is responding to exceptional circumstances by asking New Zealanders to donate to its COVID-19 Emergency Response and Recovery Fund. This fund will keep our most vulnerable members of our communities safe and well.

“All our lives have been turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our amazing staff moved quickly to lock down homes and ensure that around 3000 people were safe in their own homes.

“Many New Zealanders are vulnerable and many are struggling. But when times are tough, it’s toughest on the most vulnerable. People with intellectual disabilities are among the most vulnerable in New Zealand,” she said.

“Families of younger children with intellectual disabilities are struggling to care for their children at home in lockdown. People with intellectual disabilities, who are living independently in their own homes, now have fewer supports around them. People living in our residential services don’t understand why their families cannot come to visit them.”

IHC has already launched its emergency response, working with a wide range of organisations.

A new facebook page, AWHI at home, provides resources, tools and opportunities for families at home with young children. Here families can access online sessions with play therapists, music therapists and behavioural therapists, and share information and experiences with other parents, so they don’t feel completely alone and overwhelmed.

We are setting up video chat and connectivity in more than 800 of IHC’s IDEA Services homes, so people have another way to connect with their families and friends.

IHC has also set up a connection service – WeCare.Kiwi – so people feeling isolated can have regular chats to a volunteer, who will link them to any other support they need. Our extensive IHC volunteer network in communities around the country has teamed with Carers NZ to provide this connection support for all vulnerable people living at home. WeCare.Kiwi is a website with an 0800 number people can call (0800 777 797). All volunteers are vetted by Police.

“IHC is stepping up to help people through these difficult times, just as we have for the past 70 years. But we can’t do it without your help,” Janine Stewart said.

“These initiatives will have ongoing costs and we’re finding new ways to respond. We are determined to reach out to as many people with intellectual disabilities and their families as we can.

“We don’t want anyone left alone and isolated.

“These are unprecedented times. We are in constant contact with the Government and its representatives and we are working in partnership.”

You can read more about IHC’s Emergency Response here.

You can also visit WeCare.Kiwi or AWHI at home