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1. Get to know your neighbours and community

Getting involved with a community initiative in your local area is a great first step.  You could join or form a neighbourhood support group allowing you and your neighbours to share skills and resources that can be vital in an emergency. Discuss what you can do to assist each other, and contact civil defence staff at your local council for details on getting started.

A community initiative doesn't need to be specifically focused on disaster preparedness for it to be of value in the event of an emergency.  Any initiative that brings people together and creates social connections will pay dividends if there's an emergency event in your area. When neighbours know each other they are better able to look after one another. This is especially important during and after a disaster, like a storm or a large earthquake.

Neighbourhood Support is an excellent way to connect with your neighbours, as it aims to make our homes, streets, neighbourhoods and communities safer and more caring places in which to live. Neighbourhood Support works closely with the Police and many other organisations in your community to reduce crime, improve safety and prepare to deal with emergencies and natural disasters. 

2. Create a community-driven response plan

A community response plan is a great way for a community to come together, discuss and outline how they plan to respond and keep each other safe during an emergency event. A community-driven emergency response plan is owned and developed by the community, for the community; it is not imposed by a council.  Community response plans often provide:

  • Risks - A description of the hazards and risks in the local area.
  • Capacities - Some of the strengths, vulnerabilities and assets or facilities in the local area that will likely be of use during an emergency.
  • Connections - An overview of the key community networks, channels for official information and how to connect in with local civil defence. 

The plan is developed by representatives, stakeholder and organisations within the community, who can form a working group with the goal of developing and maintaining the plan. The process of developing the plan can be facilitated by an Emergency Management Advisor.  

If you're part of a local initiative looking to get involved in community response planning, head to the webpage of your local district to find out how to connect with civil defence staff. 

3. Become an emergency management volunteer

Depending on where you live in Canterbury, your local council may run a civil defence volunteer team. This can be a great way to learn some new skills, give back to your community and form long-lasting friendships, particularly if you're new to a community.  Not only will you learn about the risks and hazards in your area but you will also learn the skills to be able to assist your community during an emergency event. 

Civil defence volunteer teams have made a significant contribution to the safety and wellbeing of our communities over the past 15 years and continue to play a vital role during emergency responses across the region. 

Contact your local council to see if there's a team in your area. 

4. Go a step further

Communities are much greater than the sum of their parts. Being a part of your community means you can come together as a collective and define your own response and recovery during an emergency event.  You can make the most of the inherent strengths that communities hold and look after one another in a way that brings communities together in times of adversity. 

Help share knowledge across your community by trying the following:

  • Organise a community event that raises awareness of hazards in the area and showcases some of your community's strengths.
  • Share kōrero and knowledge about emergencies with people you know: local schools, child care centres, sports groups or any other groups you consider to be part of your community and always look for opportunities to bring these various groups together as a network.

What impacts could a disaster have on my community?

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