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New Zealand’s community sector is playing a key role in supporting the vulnerable following the Canterbury earthquake, says ComVoices, an independent network of Tangata Whenua, community and voluntary sector organisations.
Marion Blake, CEO of Platform, the national collaboration of community organisations that provides mental health and addiction services, said there would be a long term impact both on people with experience of mental illness and the general mental health of the community.
“Fortunately, New Zealand has a skilled and experienced community sector that is already playing a major support role and can be increasingly utilised,” she said.
Tim Burns, Executive Director of Volunteering New Zealand, said the role of the Sector and volunteers in supporting people severely traumatised by the experience would continue for weeks and months to come.
“Volunteers have already contributed significantly in many different ways, both formally through the emergency response teams and informally through helping others in their neighbourhoods,” he said.
“As the rebuilding starts, there is a need for volunteers with building and constructions skills and equally those who can offer specialist counselling and other support services to those who have lost much and suffered trauma.”
Christchurch-based Stepping Stones Trust is a psychiatric recovery service, provides beds for up to 88 people and supports a further 300 in their own homes.
Trust CEO Glen Dodson said they were planning to increase the number of respite beds in the Christchurch area, “just so people have somewhere to stay”.
Mr Dodson said the organisation’s houses and flats had been without any facilities for most of Saturday but staff had worked tirelessly to make sure it could still run at capacity.
“There are a lot of very tired staff and stressed consumers,” he said. “But we are yet to see the full impact of the weekend’s events. That will be felt for many weeks and months to come,” he said.
Kath Fox, CEO of Richmond New Zealand, the Christchurch-based national provider of community mental health and support services, said staff had been worked tirelessly to support clients.
“It is a very traumatic time and the psychological aftermath will be challenging. They have been working extraordinary hours in a situation where they are concerned for their own families and personal circumstances as well,” she said.
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