Community trust takes over RATs distribution in Whāingaroa

As daily COVID-19 cases in the Waikato continue to reach 500-650 a day, a community trust in Raglan, Raglan Naturally, has taken over responsibility from Waikato DHB for the local distribution of rapid antigen tests (RATs) with support from the Ministry of Social Development ‘Community Connector Service’.

Starting last week, the local click & collect site has moved from the Raglan Rugby Sports Club in Cross St to the Raglan Food Bank at 36 Bow St and will operate from 9.30am – 11.30am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  The site will be supplied directly by the Ministry of Health.

 Waikato District Councillor for the Raglan Ward, Lisa Thomson, who has played a leading role in the establishment and development of Raglan Naturally, says the new role is a natural step from the trust’s volunteer support for the work of local testing and vaccination sites, and the help it has provided for local whānau to isolate safely, since the start of the pandemic.

 She says the trust has worked with the Council and community over a number of years to establish a local plan for community development with a focus in eleven areas from the environment to infrastructure and the arts, and wellbeing. It had now secured funding for a part-time ‘community connector’ role to work with a range of local groups “so that we can help fill gaps.”

 She says the vision for the new role would include working with local iwi and others to support the work of the DHB and the Ministry of Social Development and to develop local health and welfare initiatives.

 Waikato DHB’s COVID-19 Directorate Executive Lead Maree Munro says the DHB welcomed the move by Raglan Naturally to take over the distribution of RATs to the Raglan community.

 “Raglan Naturally knows their local community well, and has proved it can provide consistent services in this area. We’d like to enable more community-led initiatives of this kind, and encourage more community groups, including iwi, to consider stepping forward to undertake these services,” she says.

While Raglan Naturally is not the first community provider to distribute RATs – there are Kaupapa Māori health providers who are working in this area, and the Colville Fire Station has taken on responsibility for distributing RATs to people at the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula – this is the first time a community trust of this type has stepped forward to do this work in a busy township of this size, she says.

 Ms Munro says the number of people testing COVID-19 positive in the Waikato had reached average daily highs of more than 1,600 in March, and was now around 500 to 650 daily.

 “We’ve had more than 96,000 cases of COVID-19 in the Waikato and we’d like to encourage these people to get their COVID-19 booster vaccination as soon as they can following their infection so that we can curb the next wave of infections that we’re expecting.”