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New Zealand Red Cross - Supporting Communities

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New Zealand Red Cross/Rīpeka Whero Aotearoa provides a wide range of services to communities throughout Aotearoa and overseas. They have played a vital role in helping communities through a variety of impacts from the November 2016 Earthquake.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the largest humanitarian network in the world. There are around 97 million volunteers, members, and staff worldwide. It was founded in 1919 to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering. Internationally, Red Cross now exists in 191 countries as an auxiliary organisation to governments, including in New Zealand.

Globally the Red Cross movement coordinates humanitarian assistance within and between countries to meet humanitarian needs of all people. Disasters do not discriminate, neither does the Red Cross.

New Zealand Red Cross/Rīpeka Whero Aotearoa

New Zealand Red Cross/Rīpeka Whero Aotearoa was formed in 1915. Today, New Zealand Red Cross provides a wide variety of services to communities throughout Aotearoa, as well as Pacific islands and further abroad to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.

In New Zealand there are more than 15,000 Red Cross people who do good in their communities, primarily as volunteers, to support others in need. Every day in New Zealand, Red Cross delivers a wide range of community services including:

  • support services to recently arrived refugee background people
  • Meals on Wheels and Community Transport
  • first aid courses
  • emergency management operations.

New Zealand Red Cross has made youth a clear priority and is supporting the next generation of young humanitarians in and out of schools. New Zealand Red Cross youth programmes include:

  • Kia Pakari/Schools Resilience Programme
  • Rise Up
  • Bounce
  • Youth in Emergency Services
  • Youth in Emergency Preparedness Programme
  • Refugee Youth Workers
  • People Savers
  • Save a Mate Programme.

New Zealand Red Cross also sends aid workers overseas to where humanitarian assistance is needed. This includes disaster preparedness and response.

In the Hurunui, Kaikōura and Marlborough regions Red Cross is active in the communities through its branches, members, and volunteers who live there. After the November 2016 earthquake, funds raised through its public appeal enabled the organisation to provide additional support to the communities during recovery. This involved collaborating with residents, community groups, and government agencies on programmes to deliver practical assistance and emotional support:

  • immediately after the event
  • for longer-term recovery
  • to assist communities to prepare for any unexpected emergencies in the future.

Responding During the Emergency

After the November 2016 earthquake, New Zealand Red Cross’ Disaster Welfare and Support Teams were on the ground running welfare centres with local councils. They operated a Civil Defence centre in Blenheim and supported Civil Defence in Kaikōura. New Zealand Red Cross was there to support affected communities, deliver food parcels, hope, and moral support.

Immediately after the earthquake, when Kaikōura was inaccessible, the team used defence force helicopters to bring in emergency generators, satellite communications, portaloos, an inflatable air shelter welfare tent and lighting kit, as well as water bladders and tap stands.

Food parcels were put together with supplies from the defence force. Each parcel included water and essential food items - including 'feel-good' items like lollies. Even something as simple as food can be a real mood-lifter during times of stress.

Contacting people and offering emotional support is just as important as providing for essential supplies. New Zealand Red Cross volunteer teams went door-to-door, checking on residents and letting them know they were not on their own. They were on hand to give hope and support, for those struggling with the quake's impact or for people who had been told they couldn't stay in their homes.

Three months later, New Zealand Red Cross volunteers had logged more than 9,500 hours of service, delivered 250 parcels of food, visited 2600 homes through outreach and door-knocking projects, and installed hand-washing stations in Kaikōura.

Collaborating for Recovery

Since the emergency event, New Zealand Red Cross has collaborated with residents in all three districts to support community care, community connection and preparedness for other emergency events.

Examples of the programmes it has delivered are:

  • Home heating, insulation and warmth to families in need during winter, through the partnership between the New Zealand Red Cross and the Community Energy Action trust.
  • Damaged Home Grants to assist those with red or yellow stickered homes, or who were required to evacuate their homes for 7 days or longer, following the quake.
  • Care packs, to those identified by community agencies as most needing assistance. Delivered warm clothing and bedding to people most affected by earthquakes with poor health, damaged homes, financial and emotional hardship.
  • Recovery Matters discussions with residents and community groups to help people understand how they can recognise signs of stress and how to top up their wellbeing, to cope with the extra demands following an emergency event.
  • School Children’s Grants to assist schools with costs to deliver activities to promote wellbeing for their children who were affected by the earthquake. Examples of these were school camps, sports events, leadership programmes, celebrations, kapa haka uniforms and other cultural and social events, careers trips and expos.
  • Community events and drop-in centres to help residents to connect with and support each other.
  • Organising expert speakers, such as Dr Rob Gordon, to talk with the communities about the process of recovery and how they can care for themselves and each other to optimise their wellbeing.
  • Running Psychological First Aid (PFA) courses for staff and volunteers in agencies to prepare them to assist people in distress after an emergency event.

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The New Zealand Red Cross team used defence force helicopters to bring in emergency supplies to areas left inaccessible after the earthquake. Image: New Zealand Red Cross.

Getting fresh water into areas where local supplies were damaged by the earthquake was an important part of the first response. Image: New Zealand Red Cross.

New Zealand Red Cross have delivered 570 care packs since the November 2016 earthquake. I wonder what the packs may have contained. Image: New Zealand Red Cross.

351 Damaged Home Grants have been given to assist those with red or yellow stickered homes, or who were required to evacuate their homes for 7 days or longer, following the quake. Image: New Zealand Red Cross.

Recovery Matters sessions are discussions and workshops which help people deal with the emotional and social effects of a natural disaster. Image: New Zealand Red Cross.

This infographic shows how New Zealand Red Cross has helped communities since ethe earthquake. Do you know anyone who has been helped by New Zealand Red Cross as a result of this earthquake or other emergencies? Image: New Zealand red Cross.