Sharing from a social worker from New Zealand during COVID-19


Prepared by:

Mr. Luis Arevalo


My name is Luis Arevalo, I work for an NGO in the South Island of New Zealand in the North Canterbury region, it’s predominantly rural and my clients are predominantly the elderly which, as we all know, are the demographic that is being hit the hardest by this virus.

We could see the scale of the emergency coming as we are about 10 days to 2 weeks behind mainland Europe in terms of the crisis so we started preparing early. Management were plugged into the local District Health Boards in terms of updates and there was clear and transparent communication from management to all of our services as to what was expected if it advanced to community transmission.

Prior to lock down I was visiting and calling all my clients to gauge their level of preparedness in terms of whether they understood the severity of the issue at hand and whether they felt they had the level of support they required.

When community transmission was confirmed by the nations chief medical officer, I received a call, on a Saturday, and asked not come into the office and to prepare to work from home for the foreseeable future as we were going into lock down on Wednesday night the 25th of March.

Between that phone call and the Wednesday lock down I called every client again and checked in, cancelled any face to face appointments I had and made sure that all of my clients had enough supplies to last them for at least the first few weeks. Those that didn’t I noted down and organised for parcels with relevant supplies to be prepared so that I could deliver it to them.

I checked in with other NGO’s in the area who may have had clients in similar situations and offered to take out supplies to them as well. In the end I had three clients to deliver to, I also wanted to ‘put eyes on them’ and make sure they understood that we were with them in these hard times.


Here are some pictures I took while delivering the supplies, I live and work in some of the most beautiful parts of the world.

Apart from that, it’s really business as usual in a funny sort of way… Case notes still need to be completed, phones calls still need to be made, referrals still need to be followed up. The services that are providing the essential services in this crisis are effectively still running to meet the demands so it has been quite busy.

I worry about what is coming down the line however I am sure we’ll do a great job.


Kia kaha