Thousands of PSA members showed the value of what they do as they responded to a global pandemic by delivering essential services during the lockdown.
Among them was Simone Best who made a huge sacrifice to keep doing her job.
The community support worker cares for elderly people with dementia, stroke and other health issues.
“It is hands on, washing bodies, wiping bottoms, washing hair,” she says.
The Covid crisis presented her with the most difficult of decisions – how to protect her 14 year-old daughter from the virus while continuing to care for her patients.
“I thought how am I going to keep her safe if I pick up the bug? So I made the decision for her to stay with my Mum.”
While missing her daughter, Simone was conscious she had become a support worker to give back to people in the community.
“It’s difficult for the elderly to understand why they don’t get to see any people. I am the only source of contact they have for the day.”
Simone and many other PSA members went the extra mile for their fellow New Zealanders during the lockdown.
“We’re so proud of our members for stepping up in this crisis,” says national secretary Glenn Barclay.
“Time and time again they’ve shown their dedication, adaptability and willingness to make personal sacrifices to help others.”
The PSA believes the efforts of our members during lockdown deserve recognition so we’ve gathered a few of their stories together in the multi-media Our People Matter campaign.
Canterbury Medical Laboratories Scientist Sue Lloyd was another of our members to put the needs of others first during lockdown.
With 80% of diagnosis determined by lab testing, it was vital that Sue and her colleagues at Christchurch Hospital’s laboratory kept working.
The lab was split into two shifts, so if someone got Covid-19, one shift would go into isolation.
Sue said it was important to maintain a positive attitude, despite not being able to see her children, grandchildren or elderly parents.
“When you’re under stress you can panic and get upset, or you can have fun. So we have been enjoying our work bubble.”
Sue is grateful to New Zealanders who obeyed instructions to stay home.
“Look at other countries. Our health system could have been overloaded, but this has meant we can keep giving healthcare to those who need it.”
Sue says caring about patients is her main motivation for coming to work each day.
Labour Inspector Deanna Hemara’s day job is to help regulate employment laws to make sure workers are being treated fairly.
But during Covid-19 she elected to be redeployed to the all government helpline, answering queries about the lockdown, the wage subsidy and other issues.
“We were getting a lot of employers who were desperate to maintain their businesses and employees.”
Now she’s back working as a Labour Inspector for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Deanna is dealing with complaints about the wage subsidy and how it has been applied.
She says while the rules and processes were clear, some employers have been using the subsidy for unscrupulous reasons for which it was not designed.
Deanna says she hopes the crisis has given the public a greater awareness of the important role of public servants.
“It gave me a sense of accomplishment to see how the public service across the board scrambled and came together to get New Zealand through this crisis… Even if it’s just someone talking on the other end of the line.”
Quarantine officer Adam Walker usually works to keep biosecurity threats out of New Zealand.
But for the past few months his work at Wellington Airport has been to battle something completely different – Covid-19.
“If passengers are ill or have been to certain at risk countries we’ve been directing them to public health officials at the airport,” Adam explains.
Away from the airport, Adam and other Biosecurity NZ quarantine officers were also responsible for verification of essential businesses that wanted to remain open during the lockdown.
“We were checking they had processes in place to protect employees and visitors to the sites.”
Adam says it’s a “beautiful feeling” to be helping on the frontline of the crisis.
“I feel like we are doing an effective and meaningful job. And this time we have the whole country fighting with us so we’ll win eventually.”
View more stories from our essential workers at www.ourpeoplematter.nz