The team of social workers, group facilitators and a teacher are back working in primary and intermediate schools throughout Christchurch.

After a short summer break to recharge their batteries, CMM’s Community Response team is ready for the school year ahead. Last year the team worked with 508 children and young people in both one on one and group situations to provide emotional support, mentoring and leadership development.

Working closely with the schools they are based in means they are able to identify parents and caregivers in need of support. The team worked with 140 adults last year providing social work support, emergency assistance such as food and warm bedding, parenting programmes and budgeting & advocacy. Schools find the support they provide invaluable. CMM Community Development Manager Andrea Wilson-Tukaki explains that “Schools core business is teaching and learning and most do not have the capacity for social support. However schools are working holistically and care about the wellbeing of their children and families. Having a dedicated response worker enables the school to support children and their families with a wraparound service.”

The team was established as a response to the emotional wellbeing of pupils after the Canterbury Earthquakes and is still responding to issues stemming from these events, particularly anxiety. The large aftershocks in February last year and the Kaikoura Earthquake in November highlighted that many children and their parents are continuing to struggle with anxiety. The Canterbury District Health Board provides services to children who are most severely impacted by anxiety. However children with moderate anxiety do not fit their criteria and therefore need the support that the team provides.

“Anxious behaviours continue to be part of children and families lives” says Andrea. “Our team is able to work with them to build resilience and develop skills for children and adults to cope with the on-going effects. We are able to tailor our services to meet the needs of each individual, family and community.”

Over the past 12 months the team has worked in less schools but the nature of their work has become much more intensive. Many families throughout the community are struggling with complex issues such as housing, income insufficiency, social isolation, relationship breakdowns and parenting problems.

The team is also placing a greater emphasis on supporting vulnerable families with children with special needs. The team supports children and their families at schools such as Ferndale (decile 4 special school catering for children and young people with intellectual disabilities) and the Van Asch Deaf Education Centre.

The Community Response Team is now based at their new offices in Linwood, just behind the Linwood Avenue Union Parish.

CMM would like to acknowledge the following trusts and funders who generously support the Community Response team: Rata Foundation, The Tindall Foundation, Christchurch City Council, NZ Lottery Board, David Ellison Charitable Trust, Jones Foundation, Maurice Carter Charitable Trust and the MCNZ Presidents Fund.