Reprinted from The Press
At Home section
Community movements can make a real difference, writes David Killick.
Mike Peters has a job to do. As a founder of community group Addington Action, he is determined that people avoid unnecessary suffering because of the earthquakes.
‘‘We are finding a lot of people are being very adversely affected by the social impact of the quakes,’’ says Mike. ‘‘It’s loss of jobs, two or three families living in one house, and rent increases.’’
A film-maker, artist, landscaper and member of the Addington Bush Society (his Bush Telly garden display won the top award in the inaugural Ellerslie Flower Show), Mike set up Addington Action after the February 2011 earthquake.
The group swept and cleaned up the rubble in 64 streets, dropped off water supplies, made sure people were safe, and built long drops.
Addington Action now has 50 members, all volunteers, and has expanded to cover an area stretching from Waltham to Hoon Hay. ‘‘It’s brought neighbours together,’’ says Mike.
Priorities include helping people to get emergency repairs. Addington Action contacts EQR and makes sure it is done.
Fixing uninsured houses that mainly elderly people live in is a big task, as well as helping people keep warm at home by putting in insulation. People living in cold, damp homes are at risk of contracting communicable diseases.
‘‘Food is the other big issue,’’ says Mike. The Christchurch South Fruit and Vege Co-op distributes fresh produce at various locations each week. People pay $10 to receive between $20 and $30 worth (bulk buying provides the discounts).
Addington Action also has a project to create 100 home vegetable gardens by the end of the year; so far they have done 35.
While Addington Action is a great example of communities working together, this group also highlights the plight of many people struggling to cope after the quakes, and a housing crisis that was both predictable and avoidable.
Mike is scathing about what he sees as lack of action by the authorities (although the local community board ‘‘have been fantastic’’). ‘‘I think they need to have people who are competent in charge and their attitude to working people is indifferent and callous. ‘‘
We are organising ourselves because nobody else is doing it, nobody else is bothering to do a bloody thing. ‘‘There’s a lot of stuff people have to deal with on their own. All these highly stressed people.’’
Addington Action is seeking volunteers to help with jobs including cleaning rubble, taking down chimneys, distributing parcels, checking on the elderly, and dealing with the council.
Mike says he has received numerous inquiries from people in other parts of the city. Though he regrets Addington Action cannot help individuals in other areas, he can help people to set up their own groups.
See: www.addingtonaction.org.nz, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Mike Peters on 03 980 0902 or 027 210 5042.