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Civic awards honour Methodist Mission’s earthquake response

Civic awards honour Methodist Mission’s earthquake response

The Methodist Mission will receive four civic awards during commemorations marking the first anniversary of the February 22nd Christchurch earthquake.

One award is from the Christchurch City Council and recognises the Methodist Mission’s service to the community after the September 4th, 2010 and February 22nd, 2011 quakes.

Every year the Christchurch City Council bestows civic awards that recognise significant voluntary service that benefits the city and its people. This year’s awards are called the Christchurch Earthquake Awards and recognise acts of kindness, service and heroism during or after the earthquakes.

Central government will also honour the Methodist Mission’s service after the earthquake with three awards – for leadership, innovation and collaboration. These awards are from the Ministry of Social Development’s Greater Christchurch Community Response Forum and highlight outstanding contributions made following the February 2011 earthquake.

Methodist Mission executive director Mary Richardson says on 22 February, quietly and all but unnoticed by the media, the Methodist Mission became one of the first organisations to get up and running, ready to respond to the needs of those affected by the disaster.

“While others were hurrying to their homes after the big quakes, our aged care workers were running to our Wesley hospitals and rest homes to make sure our older residents were okay.

“They worked 24/7 through aftershocks, at times without power, water or sewage system. Some brought in their own barbeques to cook meals and boil water.”

Mary Richardson says it is fantastic to see the Council and central government recognise the largely unsung heroes of the earthquake, those in the age care sector.

After the devastating February quake, other Methodist Mission staff immediately started working with the Ministry for Social Development and other agencies to identify the parts of the city where support was most needed.

They then deployed multidisciplinary teams to those areas. These included rapid response teams to provide support for grieving families and respond to 0800 calls.

The earthquakes badly damaged the Methodist Mission's own social service facilities and offices. Its food bank, goods store and group rooms were destroyed. Its main office building was badly damaged and is not yet accessible.

“In the aftermath of the quakes, our social services became a mobile service. We moved to where the need was rather than focus on re-establishing a new centre. The dedication of our staff meant that within those first few weeks we were able to coordinate thousands of referrals for help,” Mary Richardson says.

She acknowledges the extraordinary generosity of businesses, parishes, communities groups, trusts and individuals from around New Zealand and throughout the world who provided support after the earthquakes. Their donations meant the Methodist Mission could immediately redeploy all its free resources to earthquake relief.

“We also want to acknowledge the people we serve – our older residents, the children in our early childhood centre, the children, young people, families and individuals we work with. They all deserve an award.

“They have been amazing over the last year. They have been strong and patient and they have done the best they can in difficult circumstances,” Mary Richardson says.


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