Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund
More than seven years have passed since the devastating Canterbury Earthquakes. Despite the passing of time, the need for continuing support and resources remains just as great. Through its donation from The Tindall Foundation (TTF), Family Works (a division of Presbyterian Support) has been able to provide ongoing aid to some of the families and communities worst affected.
At South New Brighton School, in the hard-hit eastern suburbs of Christchurch, a Family Works staff member spends a day a week offering therapeutic counselling for children and parents. Family Works Service Manager Victoria Newcombe reports that having somebody present every week who is familiar with the school culture and environment has improved sustainable outcomes for children and families.
“We are seeing children who are suffering anxiety at home or at school. Many of these children are in distress, but it’s not necessarily due to problems inherent with them. It’s more likely that these children are experiencing trauma from the pressures of growing up in post-earthquake Canterbury.”
Family Works is just one of the organisations TTF has funded following the 2011 Earthquake. While the amount of aid coming into the region has varied, TTF has maintained its presence, offering stability and consistency. “We realised early on that it was going to be beneficial to hold back money for medium- and long-term services. By listening to people on the ground, we were able to establish a plan and a way forward,” says Kate Tindall Lum, the Foundation’s Special Projects Manager.
TTF has committed to funding in three main areas.
Psychosocial Support: helping families suffering long-term effects from the earthquakes.
Community Voice: ensuring residents living in the city’s worst-affected suburbs have a voice in how their communities are redeveloped.
Community-led Development: giving leaders in those communities a chance to stand up and make decisions around the rebuild.
The Foundation’s devolved funding approach has made a significant difference, believes Evan Smith. He has been involved with the recovery and regeneration effort from the very beginning, first with CanCERN (Canterbury Communities Earthquake Recovery Network) then with AvON (Avon Ōtākaro Network) and Eastern Vision.
“Having a funding partner that trusts emergent community organisations to take leadership and responsibility for their own recovery has been a wonderful counterbalance to the sometimes heavy-handed, top-down approach of the recovery agencies. We couldn’t have achieved the outcomes we have without that trust and support!”
Evan cites Te Ara Ōtākaro, the transitional city-to-sea Avon River Trail through the red zone, as an example of a community-driven initiative AvON has led by leveraging further funding support from central and local government.
“What was once described as a ‘warzone’ of destruction running through the heart of East Christchurch is being transformed into a place of healing riverside green space that contributes enormously to the restoration of community wellbeing. All this has been made possible through the support of The Tindall Foundation and their faith in communities to know best how to regenerate their own neighbourhoods.”
Victoria agrees that ebbs and flows in resources coming into Christchurch have at times been problematic. “There was an injection of resources immediately following the 2011 Earthquake and people came to rely on that funding and support. It became very hard for families and schools when funding sources were not able to be renewed.”
The Foundation has recently committed to funding Family Works for an additional three years. “The aspect I value the most is the consistency of funding, but also the trust and flexibility the Foundation gives in how those funds are used. We are accountable to them, but their expectations are very reasonable and they are incredibly generous,” Victoria says.
TTF has already donated $7.64 million to the Christchurch rebuild and this investment will continue for at least another two years, Kate pledges. “We understand that recovery takes a long time, in particular in Christchurch with so many aftershocks and insurance claims taking so long to settle. We are being told by our Funding Managers that the need is going to continue for many years to come.”