Ready to help while we weather storm

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The past weeks have seen our lives change in an unprecedented way as the world does its best to contain Covid-19.

Being innately social creatures, we have been challenged to isolate, step away from society back to our homes and families.

This is the most our country has asked of us since World War 2 and we all need to do our part.

Throughout Oamaru and the wider Waitaki region, people have faced cancellations of planned events, sporting activities and travel and, while disappointing, these life-changing steps are vital if we are to keep ourselves safe and flatten the curve of infections.

As of Wednesday, our country was placed in full lockdown.

This fast-paced change can be scary and I know people are feeling anxious and vulnerable. However, I challenge you all to try and turn this around. Let’s focus on what we have, not what we’ve lost, and how to make the best of these trying times.

I don’t mean to be flippant by saying this, as I realise the massive and far-reaching social and financial implications this move will have for each and every one of us, but if it can bring us some calm while our worlds are turning upside down, this can only be a good thing.

I saw a brilliant post online reminding people of all the times they’ve asked for donations and goods from local businesses for their fundraisers and events, then saying now it’s time to repay the favour – I couldn’t agree more. Please try to support these local services in the very limited ways we can right now.

Our tourist industry has ground to a halt almost overnight and with people required to now stay at home, businesses, retailers, moteliers, cafes and restaurants have lost their income. For those local businesses suffering, I just want you all to know I am still here for you and want to help you and your family get through this.

While some of the bigger companies may be able to weather this storm, it’s the little guy I am worried about, and want them to know I will be manning my phone day and night to assist in any way I can. I heard a heartwarming story the other day where someone booked a hotel room for three nights, never intending to stay, simply supporting those industries which have taken the biggest economic hit with this pandemic. Where we can, we could all take a leaf out of this person’s book.

It is easy to be blinded by the loud and sometimes terrifying headlines, international images and bare supermarket shelves, but I prefer to look deeper and find the other stories of kindness and hope which are shining through more and more every day.

While so many other industries are suffering, this is our growers’ and producers’ time to shine. There can be no doubt how crucial the primary sector is as it’s now required to feed the nation while holding our economy together.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers reported this week that our very own region could produce enough food for the entire country, including all the staples, vegetables, milk, meat and bread.

Take comfort in the fact we are well positioned to weather this storm.

Please look after each other, wash your hands, keep safe, be responsible, listen and respect instructions and we will get through this.

  • Jacqui Dean is the Member of Parliament for Waitaki.