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September 2012 | Issue 4

Newsletter WELCOME

Corinne Ambler EDITOR

Welcome to the September edition of the New Zealand Red Cross Recovery newsletter.

worked there since the shop opened a decade ago.

This month we cover the uncertain future for our Church Corner shop. All proceeds from the shop go towards Red Cross national programmes so its loss would be a blow.

“They said ‘where are we going to go, what are we going to do?’ Coming into the shop every week is part of their survival, it’s part of their routine and normality,” Jill says.

We were also lucky last month to host Australian Red Cross recovery expert John Richardson, who talked to volunteers, staff and stakeholders about self-care.

Mary Ann Nouwens, 75, has volunteered for Red Cross for 27 years, and was in the shop when the February 22 earthquake struck.

And our programme to support those who lost family members in the earthquakes continues to grow, with a successful weekend retreat just completed. We look forward to extending support for this group of people, and have just employed a bereaved support coordinator to look after them.

¡ Left to right: Sue Crosbie (shop coordinator), Jill Price, Joy Eder, Elaine MacPherson, Sarah Campbell, Mary Ann Nouwens.

red cross shop on the move? The only Red Cross shop still operating in Christchurch is on the lookout for a new home, after news the building that houses it is at the lower end of the new building standard. The Church Corner shop recently won the Red Cross Wardrobe Challenge, and is one of the best performing Red Cross shops in the South Island. It sits in a block of five shops and a community hall owned by the Loyal Riccarton Lodge. CERA has given the landlord 20 working days to provide a detailed engineering report. Red Cross South Island retail manager Jill Lyne says she was devastated when she heard the news, because the shop is in a great spot and has become a hub in the community. “I’m actively looking for another site but it’s not easy in Christchurch at the moment to find premises. And we’re looking at double the rent to move somewhere else,” she says. The shop is run by a coordinator and 38 volunteers, many of whom have

“All we had broken was a cup when it fell off the shelf. That’s why we thought we were good to go. “I don’t feel unsafe, it’s never moved, there are no cracks, it’s a shame. But it’s not only happening to us, it’s happening everywhere in Christchurch.” Mary Ann and the other volunteers say they’ll miss their regular customers and the camaraderie with other volunteers. Red Cross’ High Street shop is in the red zone and closed after the February earthquake, and a replacement shop in Stanmore Road, Richmond is not due to open until next year. If you know of any suitable retail premises or land near Church Corner, please contact Jill Lyne by email jill.lyne@redcross.org.nz.

corinne.ambler@redcross.org.nz

In this issue Church Corner shop to move? John Richardson’s visit Retreat for bereaved families

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NEW ZEALAND RED CROSS ELIZABETH MCNAUGHTON – NATIONAL RECOVERY MANAGER

the two year earthquake ELIZABETH MCNAUGHTON NATIONAL RECOVERY MANAGER

This month it is two years since the first of our 10,000 odd earthquakes. It has been a rough ride for so many of us and I want to acknowledge the tremendous toll 10,000 earthquakes takes on so many aspects of people’s lives. It is tough, exhausting and takes every ounce of energy and self-preservation. I work hard to remain empathetic – we all have an ‘earthquake narrative’ and often this is linked to pre-existing conditions that the earthquakes have exacerbated (for example relationship

issues, poverty, and health conditions). We are now seeing the ripple effect of the initial impact – lower income families being ‘moved on’ by some landlords, rates rises and insurance difficulties across the board, increased stress and relationship issues – issues that affect everyone. When we are tired and fed-up it can become easy to judge or blame others, and often the most vulnerable in our society can become the collective and easy target of this frustration. Many of our volunteers are shocked by the level of poverty they are seeing in our communities, saying to me, “I didn’t know this side of New Zealand before, I used to think beneficiaries should just get off the couch – after doing this work I don’t think that anymore”. So may I suggest the next time you hear someone say “the uninsured deserve to get nothing” please remind them of the elderly woman whose husband’s

dementia resulted in a missed insurance payment. Or remind them of those who suffer acute illness and disability and literally can’t get off the couch. Or think about how you would compete for a job if you couldn’t read or write. Disasters change the rules – for some this will mean a loss of control and choice, for others it offers an opportunity to step up and help – to gain a greater understanding of our society. I look at our volunteers, with their hugely different backgrounds (teachers, nurses, beneficiaries, refugees, policemen and migrants), all brought together by the earthquakes and all working together to help others. In this I see the basis for a more inclusive and tolerant society – humanity working together at its best.

Elizabeth McNaughton

GUEST COLumn improvement in their lives.

hÉlÈne tixier intern, earthquake recovery team

My name is Hélène Tixier and I work as an intern for New Zealand Red Cross in the earthquake recovery department. I am originally from France and I have been in New Zealand for 10 months now. I recently had the privilege to go into the community on Outreach with a volunteer from the Christchurch office. On that day, I learned that we cannot save people but it is possible to make a real constructive

I was very impressed with the performance of the volunteer who accompanied me, especially her professionalism, empathy and calmness when dealing with the local people. I realised that she understood what people were going through, as she had survived the earthquake herself. When we arrived at people’s homes, I discovered how bad the situation was for some and wondered how they have coped. It was unreal, like being in a movie or post-war zone. I was very touched by the condition of a woman about my age who looked 20 years older. She was struggling to breathe properly as she had fluid in her lungs. Actually, I was not surprised as when we arrived we were overpowered by a nauseating odour of humidity and mould.

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One old lady we visited simply wanted to share her grief as her husband had passed away only one month ago. After 30 minutes of small talk, she told us that thanks to our visit she felt a lot better. As an Outreach person, you also need to be aware of the fact that people may not warmly welcome you into their homes. I was shocked by a young woman who said to us, “It’s not enough! When are you coming back?”, when we gave her some blankets for her children. This type of reaction was the last thing I was expecting. Although we didn’t go to the Red Zone or the most damaged suburbs, it was very sobering to see the conditions people have to put up with in Christchurch. I felt very grateful to come back to my tidy warm apartment that day. I know that my time with Red Cross is going to change my outlook on life. Hélène


Recovery NEWSLETTER september 2012 programmes

wellness weekend for bereaved families About 70 family members of those killed in the Canterbury earthquakes have just attended a weekend retreat on Banks Peninsula. New Zealand Red Cross organised the weekend to give bereaved families a chance to spend time with others who know what they’re going through, and to just get out of town and have a break. Nannies were on hand so parents could go and enjoy massages and other activities, and the children were entertained with fun rides, music sessions, a swimming pool, farm animals, and tree climbing. Organiser Jolie Wills says it was wonderful to see some new faces and connections made between people who know what each other are going through. “They had an amazing time – it was really nice to see, just things like not having to cook. The most popular thing was probably the free massage sessions.”

¡ Bereaved family member has quiet time.

Some of the comments from those who attended include… “There was an incredible community spirit here.” “The setting was so peaceful.” “This is an awesome idea – it’s good to get away.”

Red Cross has just employed a bereaved support coordinator to look after these families, and continues to run several support groups for them. The families have also spent time with a relative of one of the Pike River miners, and we look forward to continuing to support this group of people.

“It’s good to be with people who understand.” “Red Cross is excellent for organising this, it’s exactly what I needed.” “I was totally relaxed knowing my grandchildren were safe and happy.” ¡ Monorail for the kids (Living Springs stock photo).

“The massage was blissful, but not long enough!”

¡ Living Springs Camp and Conference Centre.

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NEW ZEALAND RED CROSS Recovery NEWSLETTER september 2012 visitor

STAFF PROFILE

2002, and major bushfires in 2003 and 2006. He was part of the Australian government forward assessment team for Hurricane Katrina and has most recently been facilitating a bushfire bereavement support group. John talked about how important it is to be kind to each other, and about how beneficial symbols and rituals are in people’s recovery. He says in year two after a disaster, people move past the tolerance and acceptance phase into anger, which makes it very hard to work with them holistically. People want to be validated – for someone to say “you’ve had a crap time”. In year three things will start to slow down for affected people, but some will still struggle because many issues remain unresolved and they can’t see the finish line.

australian red cross expert visits John Richardson from Australian Red Cross has just been here for a week to share his knowledge with Red Cross volunteers, staff, and the Canterbury community. He gave a free seminar for agencies working on the recovery, which was packed out. One woman told organisers afterwards, “I hope you don’t mind but I recorded John because I wanted to listen to him again back in the quiet of my office”. John is the Strategic Development Coordinator for Australian Red Cross and coordinated support for people affected by the Bali bombings in

This is where the saying “recovery is a marathon not a sprint” comes in. We need to understand that when people feel deep exhaustion they can lose empathy for others, talk a lot and take everything very personally. Attendees asked if more speakers could be brought to Christchurch to talk about recovery lessons learned elsewhere, so next month New Zealand Red Cross is bringing Australian expert Rob Gordon to Christchurch. Dr Gordon, a psychologist who has worked with bushfire-affected communities in Australia, will be holding sessions with bereaved families, recovery organisations and will hopefully run some community forums in the worst hit areas. We will keep you posted.

KEY STATISTICS

73

$

million distributed in grants

88,042 grants recipients

1,933 2,781

outreach visits

door knocks

27,351

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torch radios distributed

melissa benson-chan Melissa is the Community Recovery Coordinator based in Christchurch and she currently oversees the torch radio programme. She has so far coordinated the distribution of more than 27,000 torch radios and household preparedness information to schoolchildren, the elderly, people with disabilities, refugees and migrants and council housing tenants. Melissa works closely with Christchurch City Council’s civil defence team to give joint presentations to refugee, migrant, and disabled groups in Canterbury. She also helps organise free first aid training and kits for refugee groups. Melissa is also involved with volunteer recruitment and induction sessions and meets regularly with various community groups. She says she enjoys working with people from a wide range of backgrounds and having an ongoing positive influence in the Christchurch community.

Contact National Office PO Box 12140, Wellington 69 Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington 6144 Phone: 04 471 8250 Email: national@redcross.org.nz Website: www.redcross.org.nz


Recovery Newsletter September 2012