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  • Feb24Thu

    New Zealand Updates

    Salvation Army earthquake response in New Zealand focuses on food and psychosocial support – update February 24 February 24, 2011 by Major Christina Tyson
    Filed Under:
    International News
    The Salvation Army in New Zealand is focusing on providing food and psychosocial support to people affected by the earthquake that devastated the Canterbury region on February 22. Local Salvation Army staff and officers (ministers) have been joined by others from around the country.

    Reinforcement personnel are boosting the psychosocial team that was already established as part of the ongoing recovery work from the September 2010 earthquake. The Salvation Army has been asked to provide up to 40 staff to accompany assessment teams (one Salvationist per team) that will travel through affected areas. Salvationists have also been asked to assess social and welfare needs.

    The Salvation Army's earthquake response team is working out of a temporary location at Sydenham Corps (church) because its buildings in Christchurch sustained significant damage. Salvation Army IT staff have arrived on site, travelling overnight from Wellington, and are setting up computer and phone networks.

    Salvation Army church members in Christchurch are taking part in the feeding programme. Emergency services coordinator Major Rex Cross says: 'The Salvation Army was up and running almost instantly. We are thrilled with the local response.'

    Team members at Cowles Stadium were about to start serving breakfast when engineers told them the building might be unsafe. They simply moved outside and served breakfast there.

    Reports suggest that the situation in Christchurch remains chaotic. There are also concerns that needs in outer Christchurch suburbs are not well understood.

    More news is emerging about an international track meet to raise funds for the earthquake response. The event – held in place of a meet that should have taken place in Christchurch – will take place at Wellington's Newtown Park on Saturday, February 26.

    'Track Meet 4 Christchurch' is organised by the athletes themselves and is to be run in association with the New Zealand Olympic Committee, which will present Nick Willis with his long-awaited Olympic silver medal at the beginning of the event. Nick came third in the 1,500 metres in Beijing but was promoted to second when the winner was disqualified in November 2009 after failing a drugs test.

    Spectator entry to the track meet is free. However, The Salvation Army will collect donations for the Christchurch relief effort.

    Nick says that in response to the events in Christchurch the athletes wanted to do something to help. 'We hope to see at least five athletes break the magic four-minute barrier [for the mile],' he says. 'And we hope to get a large crowd and raise as many funds for the Christchurch people as possible.'

    Salvation Army Earthquake Response Concentrates on Welfare and Emotional Needs

    New Zealand update March 1 by Major Christina Tyson

    The Salvation Army in New Zealand reports an escalation in welfare needs as a result of ongoing concerns for people affected by the devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake that hit the region around Christchurch a week ago.

    Relief agencies have expressed their appreciation for the manner in which Salvation Army officers (ministers) have approached people to defuse potentially difficult situations where they may be feeling upset or angry as a result of current circumstances.

    Assisting in welfare centres at three sites and a drop-in centre, The Salvation Army supplied some 4,500 meals to approximately 1,800 people in a single day. In addition, Salvationists provided food for the Tongan community and a group at Opawa Baptist Church and are now working with families to encourage them either to return home or to find other semi-permanent housing.

    Overnight, a fresh influx of reinforcements from around the country means that there are now 90 people in The Salvation Army's psychosocial team. Twelve personnel from the two Salvation Army territories in Australia were scheduled to arrive on Monday, February 28.

    Some 90 Salvation Army personnel are providing support as part of 10-man 'suburban squads' that also comprise representatives from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission, engineers and Christchurch City Council. The Salvation Army team members provide emotional support to residents and identify material needs – requirements for food, water and medical supplies – as well as more complex issues such as anxiety, stress, getting to a doctor, or the concerns of elderly people living in isolation.

    A further 12 people, assigned to 'flying squads', can be brought in whenever there is a need for an intensive psychosocial response, either taking over from a person who is delayed or taking their place and moving on with the rest of the assessment team. This team made 79 visits yesterday (Monday, February 28).

    Salvationists are also on hand to speak to the bereaved who attend police briefings on the missing and confirmed dead, working alongside other agencies such as Victim Support.

    Friday, February 25 was an extremely busy day for staff of The Salvation Army's community ministries. At Linwood Corps (church) Community Ministries, personnel carried out 490 interviews, with food parcels provided as required. Four hundred additional food parcels delivered by 60 drivers, including volunteers from other churches, were provided to those identified as in need. Although this was slightly less than the previous day, further demand was expected to be just as high, so 800 parcels were prepared in anticipation.

    As with the 2010 earthquake, The Salvation Army is receiving excellent support from its partners at World Vision, whose staff are answering calls and staffing the Army's Christchurch headquarters at Sydenham and will provide additional call response resources at territorial headquarters in the coming week. A World Vision logistics expert is assisting in Christchurch, and a staff member with expertise in large-scale disasters is on hand at Linwood Community Ministries Centre.

    Enquiries are being made to locate a larger distribution centre and more office space for several Salvation Army activities, and several corps in the South Island (particularly Nelson) are providing 'meet and greet' support to families who have left Christchurch.

    The hastily arranged 'Track Meet 4 Christchurch' took place on Saturday, February 26 at Wellington's Newtown Park. In an emotionally charged atmosphere, Nick Willis was presented with his Beijing Olympic silver medal – awarded as a result of the winner being disqualified – and then recorded a sub four-minute mile. Although spectator entry to the event was free, The Salvation Army collected donations for the Christchurch relief effort.

    Salvation Army Steps Up Earthquake Response in New Zealand

    New Zealand update March 3 by Major Christina Tyson

    The Salvation Army's operations in earthquake-affected Canterbury, New Zealand, have shifted up a gear. On Wednesday, March 2, Salvation Army emergency services volunteers provided 65 percent more meals to evacuated residents than they had the previous day. Psychosocial support workers fielded their largest number of teams providing emotional support to residents in the hardest-hit suburbs. Particular assistance was given to people with needing urgent care or material support such as food and water.

    With warehousing secured in the Christchurch suburb of Hornby, three specialist managers have been recruited to oversee the movement of bulk goods, heavy transport and accommodation, and to arrange travel for Salvation Army personnel. This development will allow a substantial scaling-up of operations needed for the longer term.

    Meanwhile, The Salvation Army's Canterbury Earthquake Appeal reached NZ$6.2 million, up by $1.9 million over just 24 hours. Of this total, $1.6 million was raised through a $3 text initiative organised by Westpac Bank.

    Psychosocial support personnel from Australia and around New Zealand are part of 'Suburban Squad' teams touring the worst-affected eastern suburbs of Christchurch, assessing residents' needs, property and infrastructure. The teams comprise staff and engineers from EQC (the New Zealand Government's Earthquake Commission) and Christchurch City Council, with 122 Salvation Army personnel providing emotional support to residents and identifying people who require additional support. These include elderly people living in isolation, those with chronic health conditions and others who are particularly stressed or anxious. Such cases were followed up by 'flying squads' of 12 Salvation Army officers, with a large team of volunteers delivering food, water and other goods to those in need.

    Another 14 psychosocial support workers were based at welfare centres, providing care and support to people evacuated from their homes.

    Psychosocial team coordinator Major Lynette Hutson says her teams are making an immense difference to people who, in many cases, had been cut off and were yet to receive outside help. One of the most touching cases seen by the teams was an 18-year-old who was caring for his wheelchair-bound mother and his two adult-aged, intellectually disabled brothers in a house without sewage or water. An emerging issue is the number of elderly people who are struggling to get by, often without water or sewage.

    Salvation Army emergency services workers yesterday (March 2) served 4,710 meals to 1,570 people at welfare centres. This number included meals for 100 emergency workers hosted at The Salvation Army's community ministries centre in Linwood. During the day, Linwood Community Ministries delivered 382 food parcels to residents who were without transport and provided 212 food parcels to people arriving at the centre for help.

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