Sallies welcome quake-relief items

Salvation Army Queenstown community manager Blair McKenzie. Photo by Joe Dodgshun.
Salvation Army Queenstown community manager Blair McKenzie. Photo by Joe Dodgshun.
Fresh meat, new bottles of water and non-perishable food are donations the Salvation Army in Queenstown welcomes from Wakatipu residents to aid Christchurch citizens dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake.

Queenstown corps community manager Blair McKenzie returned from the eastern suburb of Linwood last week. He was one of about 150 New Zealand and Australian Salvation Army staff and volunteers who continue to offer secular "psycho-social support" to those in need.

"It's being a warm friendly person, getting alongside, giving hugs, and some of it is follow-up care on a more one-to-one level and providing basic needs such as food, water and blankets," Mr McKenzie said.

The Salvation Army held a morning briefing at temporary headquarters in Sydenham. Salvationists begin five- to 12-hour shifts, which involve identification-carrying personnel knocking on doors with teams from the Earthquake Commission and Christchurch City Council to make quick needs assessments.

The red shield's "flying squad" members follow up with struggling residents who require food and water or more intensive support to deal with anxiety, stress or health issues and liaise with community services on their behalf.

"The infrastructural damage is huge; then there's the job losses and loss of routine," Mr McKenzie said.

"Some people still don't have sewerage and it's all really starting to take its toll on some people."

A dozen Queenstown members have gone to assist in Christchurch and more were to follow.

About 30 families and individuals had approached the Queenstown corps for assistance since the earthquake on February 22.

"Some rocked up with very minimal spare clothes and no place to stay. Some of them had a connection down here, but it was a very temporary option," Mr McKenzie said.

"I'm pleased to say quite a few of the people I've met have integrated into our community by finding work and more permanent housing."

More than $16,000 has been raised in the Wakatipu for the army's Canterbury Earthquake Appeal, he said.

"This emergency is nowhere near being at an end. There is still a lot of work to be done and the Salvation Army is committed to being there for the people of Christchurch in the weeks and months ahead."

 

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