A library outreach programme will continue until December with $31,000 of funding for a community librarian coming from Waipā district’s Covid recovery fund.
And the council wants to hear from any community groups looking to recover post Covid so it can allocate the $180,000 remaining in its recovery fund.
The success of the library initiative, while there were restrictions on visiting district libraries in Cambridge and Te Awamutu, resulted in social and community good, Customer and Community services group manager Sally Sheedy said this week.
Talking to councillors at the Strategic Planning and Policy committee, Sheedy said Covid was not going away with anywhere between 50 to 100 cases reported in Waipā every day.
The committee discussed ways it could ensure the recovery fund money was spent where it was needed.
Committee chair Susan O’Regan said there were many community organisations feeling the squeeze.
They were fronting up to the Cambridge and Te Awamutu community boards for discretionary funding while Covid funds remain unspent.
“I’m not sure it has been broadly understood there is that funding there,” she said.
Tweaking the previous criteria and promoting the fund seemed the best way forward, she said.
“Covid now is unfortunately embedded in our community. I think there are a number of community organisations out there which we have not yet heard from,” Cr Roger Gordon said.
The council needed to identify where some of the cracks were in the community and apply the fund to help those organisations.
Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk said with funding available, it was important to get to all the groups that might need funding.
The council should either have another funding round or get groups to contact community advisor.
“Let’s see that community voice come through that process.”
Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the council needed to look at the organisations who needed a helping hand to get over this period.
“We need to be careful not to build expectations that this is an unlimited fund.
“This is ongoing – there are a lot of sporting clubs and community organisations that are really struggling. They may not survive. We want to try and make sure our social fabric is maintained going forward.”
Cr Lou Brown endorsed the outreach library service saying his work for the RSA on the welfare side had highlighted how important it was.
“They are frightened of going out and feel in danger of travelling around. The operation of this service is a big plus.”
Stolwyk agreed saying 80 rest homes had benefited already from the library outreach service as had older people who experienced loneliness during Covid.
Sheedy said expanding the library outreach programme across winter and into spring would benefit those who could not or had lost the ability to visit the library.
“Many patrons visited by the outreach librarian are constrained by their location due to the high risk of going into the community.”
Previous activity included 60 visits to schools, 36 to outside agencies, 80 to rest homes, 67 to pre-schools, 50 to housebound patrons, 6 internal programmes, 50 reading assistance in the libraries, Virtual story times to specific groups during times of lock down or higher alert levels and establishing reading groups and support for dementia care.