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A local farmer had an abundance of potatoes, so he called on two employees of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, Cinnermon Buckley and Matt O’Connell (pictured left), for help. They borrowed a trailer and distributed them to social service agency food banks to help struggling families.
Cinnermon is a specialist social worker for schools and communities with the Catholic Education Office, while Matt is Earthquake Recovery Coordinator for Christchurch Diocese. Their work is supported by Caritas earthquake recovery funds.
Cinnermon and Matt’s work, using a variety of means, is getting right to the heart of earthquake affected families.
'Two years on.....and the deeper issues are only just surfacing,' they say. They are seeing more sustained problems which people have not been able to easily overcome, those which require a longer recovery or rehabilitation process. As they identify problems, they address them.
Over at Waipuna youth agency in Linwood, Youth Housing Coordinator Paul McMahon, has adopted a similar 'get stuck in' approach. He assists young parents in need of accommodation, most often with poor credit or a bad tenancy history. He advocates for them with Housing New Zealand, Work and Income, MP’s offices and landlords. He helps these young parents by clarifying information, and helping them through the necessary documentation.
Paul manages to locate and successfully house most of his most at-risk young clients within two months. In two most recent cases, he was able to get people into suitable accommodation within three weeks.
Paul works through the St. Vincent de Paul Society and other groups to furnish house contents. The often transient population is easily tracked through mobile phone text messaging and Facebook. Paul now has an assistant send out lists of rental links via text messaging and Facebook up to four times a week, thereby taking out the sometimes stressful task of screening for his clients.
Collaboration between Paul, Matt and Cinnermon is on-going, and some trends are emerging:
All workers agree that the people who were most vulnerable before the 2011 earthquake have been most impacted. A walk through the Eastern suburbs reveals many residential homes still boarded up, damaged or awaiting an outcome. Yet, so many individuals, families, schools and parish communities continue to support those in need in hundreds of acts of compassion. These unrecorded actors for charity and justice are the ultimate good news story of Christchurch.