By CASS MARRETT
A medical and mental health support service providing free GP consultations, prescriptions and counselling to those who can’t afford it will continue until the end of June.
Wakatipu Community Foundation’s Greatest Needs GP and Mental Health Fund was boosted by $35,000 in the latest round of grants from Central Lakes Trust, which matched the Wakatipu Community Foundation’s existing total.
The fund was set up by Queenstown fundraising queen Kaye Parker during the first Covid lockdown two years ago.
Parker says in the face of Omicron, ‘‘our district’s greatest needs are far from over’’.
‘‘Low-income earners, particularly contract workers, beneficiaries and migrants, continue to be severely affected.
‘‘The priority when managing reduced hours and pay becomes rent, followed by food, heating and transport.
‘‘Medical and mental health issues become ‘discretionary’ … and often cases become acute and prolonged as they worsen,’’ Parker says.
Central Lakes Trust CEO Susan Finlay says mental health has been a ‘‘recurring theme’’ in funding applications for the past two years.
‘‘It isn’t at all surprising that the mental health of our people has suffered,’’ she says.
‘‘Supporting the community to be able to get through these times is a priority for the trust.’’
Grants approved by Central Lakes Trust totalled $240,736 this round, and include $50,000 to the Queenstown’s Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group.