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Telling the stories of essential workers

Caregivers are one group of many who have been working hard through the lockdown. File photo.

Essential workers in the public sector are on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19, and their efforts keep us all safe.

Thousands of members of the Public Service Association have continued to work through lockdown, in order to ensure society keeps functioning.

"Whether in our hospitals, our airports or in the homes of our most vulnerable, community and public sector workers have stepped up to keep this country going," says Erin Polaczuk, National Secretary of the Public Service Association.

"We are so proud and so grateful, and we know other New Zealanders feel the same. We want to tell the stories that so often do not get told. Our people matter."

The PSA has launched an online campaign to profile our essential workers and give New Zealanders an opportunity to say thank you.

Through the ‘Our People Matter’ campaign, community and public sector essential workers will be regularly profiled each week in short video interviews.

The PSA encourages everyone to check out the campaign website and post a message of thanks.

Stories from the front lines

Simone is a community home support worker in Auckland, who specialises in caring for the elderly.

Virus or no virus, her clients need her help to feed and wash themselves.

"Being in the health sector, I can potentially give back to the community I live in, to my whanau," she says.

Conscious that she could bring infection home with her, Simone has sent her daughter away to live with relatives. She wants New Zealanders to follow lockdown rules so they can be reunited.

"The best thing they can do is probably stay at home. If they think they need to go and put air in their tires because there’s nobody at the petrol station, think again buddy. Think again," she says.

It doesn’t get much more front line than the work done by Sue in Christchurch. She is a medical laboratory scientist at Canterbury Health Laboratories, where COVID-19 tests are analysed.

Like many other essential workers Sue has chosen to limit her contact with family in order to keep them safe.

She says the sacrifice is worth it because it helps her stay on the front line and get stuck into meaningful work.

"I love it because I care for people. I’ve worked in industrial labs as well, but I came back to the medical and I felt like I was at home because I care for the patient at the end," she says.

Also profiled is Michelle, who works for Inland Revenue. Most of her colleagues have gone home but Michelle continues to come into the office to ensure client requests are satisfied.

Since lockdown, Michelle’s work has changed to focus primarily on supporting New Zealanders to deal with the challenges posed by COVID-19.

"I just hope that New Zealand can come out of this with as minimal an amount of people affected as possible."

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