COVID-19: Q & A with Central HB Budget Services

Hawke’s Bay Foundation asked some local charities how COVID-19 affected them, especially during level 4 lockdown, and how they adapted to ensure their services remained available to their communities. Read below about Central Hawke’s Bay Budget Service’s unique response.

Central Hawke’s Bay Budget Services

Central Hawke’s Bay Budget Services Central Hawke’s Bay Budget Service is a non-profit community organisation. Their qualified financial mentors offer specialist one to one budgeting and financial advice. They also have a specialist community educator who can tailor financial literacy workshops for individual group needs.

What did your organisation do to help in Level 4 lockdown?
When we were advised of impending lockdown we purchased a new laptop so all staff were equipped to work from home.
While we couldn’t deal with clients face-to-face we were able to offer all of our services via Skype, phone and emails. We contacted many of our clients, especially our elderly, to make sure they were coping, and put in necessary measures to make sure their needs were met i.e. banking access, delivery of groceries and other essential items. We were able to organise a phone to be delivered to one of our clients who
needed a replacement.
I was involved with Zoom calls with many networks throughout Hawkes Bay (MSD, Older Persons Network CHB, Whanau Pounamu CHB Network and Fincap) keeping in touch with other budget services.

How has COVID-19 affected your organisation?
Many queries during lockdown were regarding applications for Kiwi Saver under hardship and insolvency procedures. We are anticipating an increase in the number of people needing our help in the coming months. We also sorted issues with rent and power arrears. One client had their power disconnected
as they hadn’t paid their internet account with the same company. We advised them to contact the Utilities Disputes as we felt this was wrong.

Do you anticipate a change in the way you provide your service?
We are complying with all the health and safety guidelines around Covid 19. This is an extra cost to our organisation. We are also aware that we need to limit the number of clients we see each day, which could create delays. We are concerned about future funding as there will be less funds available and
more demand.

As well as COVID-19 difficulties, Central Hawke’s Bay is also dealing with drought difficulties. How are your clients coping?
The drought is causing a lot of hardship and stress, however this has been lightened by the support offered by other regions and the Hawke’s Bay Drought Facebook page, which was started recently. People are also heartened by the fact that the Hawke’s Bay Mayoral fund has donated money.
The lockdown has affected the local retailers who were already struggling but there is a lot of support to shop local. The concern is now with online purchases, have people got used to it and will they continue?
We feel fortunate to live in Central Hawke’s Bay as it’s such a supportive community.