The Fono

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Nius Letter

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Malo Team Fono!

Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst in bringing to the attention of wider New Zealand to the lack of equity and resulting higher health risks and poverty among many of our Pacific people.  The people of The Fono are leading the way. Vroom. Vroom.
The work done at The Fono day to day with those facing hardship and consequent health disadvantages is now vastly expanded and higher profile as our people and volunteer supporters attack the challenge of poverty with enthusiasm and compassion.  We are also leading the way with our Pharmacy deliveries and Covid-19 testing on the road.
Nius Update is here to allow us to celebrate with one another and our families what is being achieved by the people of The Fono working together.  They are our stories which we must share.  They inspire us to live by the values that unite us.
There are three wonderful stories in this issue to be enjoyed:
•    On the frontline with the relief effort
•    The Fono’s pharmacy delivery lifeline
•    Mobile testing takes off – Vroom Vroom.
Malo,

Tevita 
The Fono Pharmacy’s Delivery Lifeline:
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As soon as the government announced the Covid-19 lockdown, The Fono Pharmacy (Dispensary Plus Pharmacy) team led by Niranjan Singh leapt into action with an innovative delivery service.
‘We were very concerned about how The Fono’s patients could obtain their medicines and prescriptions safely,’ explains Niranjan.
‘Rather than being forced to go outside to get their prescriptions and essential medicines, we wanted to make sure people stayed home and saved lives.’
In response, Niranjan and his team came up with a pioneering solution – an Auckland-wide delivery service. The service is open to any of The Fono’s patients. It could be repeat prescriptions or new medicines needed following a virtual consultation. And the good news is it’s free of charge.
There’s no doubt, the service offers an essential lifeline for Pasifika families. Already struggling with reduced incomes and the challenges of looking after elderly family members and even stranded relatives, the service means they have one less stress to worry about. Instead, they can stay home in the safety of their bubbles.
‘We have been in demand since the lockdown started,’ says Niranjan. ‘We are now making around 600 deliveries a week all over Auckland. From Whangaparaoa to Pukekohe and everywhere in between, our fantastic team has been on the road every week of the lockdown.’
Most prescriptions are delivered on Fridays, but deliveries are made on other days for urgent requests. This means no one has to wait too long for their essential medicines.
The free delivery service will continue during alert level 3.
The Fono is very proud of the pharmacy team who are doing a fantastic job. The delivery service is just one of the ways we have responded to the challenges of the pandemic. Coming up with innovative, practical solutions that meet the needs of our Pasifika community is what The Fono is all about.
If you would like to find out more about the free delivery service offered by The Fono Pharmacy (Dispensary Plus Pharmacy) Team, or you would like to access the service, then contact us on [09-8384350 or 0211573110] or by email: thefonopharmacy@dispensaryplus.co.nz
The Fono’s Mobile Testing Unit Meets Addresses Communities’ Needs:
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The government has made it clear that one of the weapons for fighting Covid-19 is testing. Identifying and isolating confirmed cases as early as possible is the most effective way to break the chain of transmission. 
To this end, the government has set up several testing centres throughout the Auckland region. However, the Pasifika community faces several barriers to accessing these services. They may not be able to get to the testing station, perhaps they have an elderly family member or a new-born baby in the house, making it hard to get out. Or maybe having English as a second language gets in the way. Whatever the case, the result is the same: fewer Pasifika families being tested and an increased risk of community transmission.
With the support of the Waitemata DHB, The Fono’s mobile testing unit has stepped in to meet the needs of the Pasifika community. The mobile clinic brings testing into family homes and also provides a full translation and follow-up support service. This means every Pasifika family can now access testing regardless of their circumstances.
Referrals to the clinic come from several sources, including GPs, health providers and social services. People are also able to refer themselves. To qualify for the service, patients must have one of the symptoms of coronavirus such as coughing, shortness of breath or a fever.
In addition, the patient must be unable to access one of the regular testing centres.
It’s early days for the clinic, but demand for the mobile unit’s services has been high, with up to 30 tests carried out per day. The clinic operates from 9-3.30 every day and appointments are available outside those hours for those in need. So far, the mobile clinic has visited eight West Auckland local neighbourhoods including Ranui, Te Atatu South, Glendene and New Lynn.
‘There’s a huge need out there’, explains The Fono’s Public Health Manager, Emily Hughes. ‘Depending on funding being available, we hope to carry on with the service into level 3.’
‘The mobile unit has had a big impact on removing some of the barriers that are getting in the way of Pasifika communities accessing this vital service.
‘The work we are doing in bringing testing services into people’s homes will minimise the risk of Covid-19 taking hold in our communities,’ concludes Emily.
To find out more or to access the service, please get in touch with Emily Hughes, Public Health Manager on 021 512 213.
The Fono On The Frontline: Covid-19 Pasifika Relief Packages:
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The Covid-19 lockdown has been challenging for all New Zealanders. Worries about jobs, our health and the future have preoccupied everyone. However, many Pasifika families have been facing additional stresses. These families are already struggling with reduced incomes and overcrowded homes. However, many are also coping with stranded relatives from the Islands as well as elderly family members needing special care.
The Fono is proud to be making a significant contribution to relieving some of the hardships facing our communities. Thanks to the support of our Whanau Ora funder, Pasifika Futures Ltd, The Fono has distributed over 3,000 support packages to Pasifika households in Auckland.
The support packages are crammed full of the essentials such as canned food and staples such as eggs, flour, toiletries, rubbish bags and nappies.
The whole operation is being overseen by The Fono’s Social Services Manager, Ana Aitcheson and a dedicated team of 50 staff and volunteers. The team has been delivering up to 200 contactless relief packages every day since the lockdown began. From Waiuku to Warkworth, the whole of the Auckland region is covered.
It’s clear that the support packages are making a big difference on the frontline. Often families are experiencing significant hardship and are struggling to put food on the table.
However, the initiative goes beyond distributing food and supplies. Just as important is the advice and support the team is delivering to families in need.
‘We have found that many of our Pasifika community are unsure of where to get help. They find it difficult to advocate for themselves and access the available support,’ explains Ana.
‘As a result, we have been providing additional help and advice. It could be liaising with a landlord or employer, providing financial help with essential bills or simply offering a friendly listening ear.’
And for Ana and the team it’s the heartfelt messages of appreciation and gratitude that keep them going.
‘We have seen plenty of examples of neighbours sharing food and landlords substantially reducing rents for struggling families. The level of goodwill out there is heartening,’ reports Ana.
The relief effort has certainly being a real community initiative. For example, it became apparent within the first few days of lockdown that a larger facility was needed to house the packaging and distribution centre. A call for help went out to The Fono’s network and a warehouse was quickly offered at no cost. Furthermore, offers of help and donations of food and supplies are coming in on a daily basis.
At the start of the lockdown, the Prime Minister invited Kiwis to ‘be strong and be kind’. The team has undoubtedly taken this to heart in their awesome team effort.
Depending on funding, we hope that the initiative will remain in operation until the end of alert level 3. And if you would like to access the service or get involved, then get in touch with Ana Aitcheson on 021 956 633. 
 

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