Com­mu­ni­ties con­nect­ing post-quake

Northern Outlook - - NORTH CANTERBURY BUILDERS - EMMA DANGERFIELD

Che­viot com­mu­nity con­nec­tor Me­gan Handy­side’s ap­point­ment in Jan­uary 2016 was, with hind­sight, per­fectly timed.

It meant she was in place when the earth­quake hit 10 months later, able to hit the ground run­ning, pro­vid­ing sup­port and con­nec­tions in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math.

Her role was es­tab­lished in re­sponse to a rec­om­men­da­tion in the Greater Can­ter­bury Com­mu­nity Re­sponse Fo­rum — Hu­runui Com­mu­nity Re­port, an ini­tia­tive from then So­cial De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Paula Ben­nett aimed at un­der­stand­ing what lo­cal peo­ple felt about so­cial and well­be­ing is­sues in their com­mu­nity.

The re­port high­lighted the need for some­one to iden­tify needs within the com­mu­nity, pro­vide con­nec­tion, and sup­port and cham­pion com­mu­nity-based projects and ideas, and as such the com­mu­nity con­nec­tor role was born.

Ini­tially funded via the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment, the role now has the sup­port of the De­part­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs and Rata Foun­da­tion. Handy­side said her work­load postearthquiake in­creased, and ad­di­tional roles had been cre­ated.

‘‘It was, and still is, an im­por­tant role to ad­vo­cate for the Che­viot com­mu­nity and en­sure that de­ci­sion mak­ers don’t for­get about our com­mu­nity, and are aware of what’s hap­pen­ing at a lo­cal level.’’

There are now two con­nec­tors in Che­viot, two in Cul­ver­den/ Wa­iau, one in Am­ber­ley and an­other re­spon­si­ble for Hawar­den/Waikari. They are em­ployed by Con­nect Hu­runui In­cor­po­rated and re­port to so­cial/com­mu­nity ser­vice net­work To­gether Hu­runui.

A lot of their work in­volves com­mu­nity-based projects, in­clud­ing help­ing com­mu­nity groups with fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, sup­port­ing in­di­vid­u­als, co­or­di­nat­ing with the school to run the re­cent Help­ing Hands Day and or­gan­is­ing the up­com­ing 125 years of set­tle­ment in Che­viot cel­e­bra­tions which will take place next year.

An­other ex­am­ple of work she has re­cently been in­volved in is cham­pi­oning sup­port for a com­mu­nity house.

‘‘With the in­crease in com­mu­nity and so­cial ser­vices work­ing in Che­viot there has been a de­mand for of­fice space in our com­mu­nity. The Che­viot Ward com­mit­tee has re­cently agreed to lease the Doc­tors House, which has re­cently been used as a tem­po­rary med­i­cal cen­tre, to the Che­viot Com­mu­nity Trust for use as a com­mu­nity house.’’

Once re­source con­sent was granted it would pro­vide vi­tal of­fice space for so­cial and com­mu­nity work­ers, as well as a space for ex­cit­ing com­mu­ni­ty­based projects to grow, she said.

EMMA DANGERFIELD/STUFF

Che­viot Area School stu­dents en­joy a game of Con­nect Four at the re­cent Help­ing Hands Day, co­or­di­nated with the help of com­mu­nity con­nec­tor Me­gan Handy­side.

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