them and us edit jLast week we talked about the formal and informal spaces of earthquake recovery; informal being that community space where we have a flexibility and dynamism that most formal agencies don’t enjoy due to the bureaucracies that lead their processes.

This comment could have been misinterpreted as an ‘us and them’ separation but it is actually that perception we are most keen to break down. Many of the staff that work in these organisations could put their hand up to own the ‘us’ space of the stuck –  we all know that being employed by a recovery agency does not mean your claim will move any faster. So that is the first barrier to break down – stuck people work in agencies too.

But what are we seeing in terms of how the recovery agencies and organisations are choosing to work now? What movement are we seeing in the space of the stuck? Well this is a part of the good news story.

There is a distinct shift within most agencies to pull the stuck resident’s voice into planning and solution discussions. The Christchurch City Council is working with a group of flood-affected residents to inform their Taskforce communications and for the first time in a long time they are receiving positive feedback on how they are communicating. CanCERN and RAS were this week participants in a planning session regarding retaining walls and next week we will be part of a planning session to look specifically at repair and rebuild solutions for the most vulnerable of our elderly community. CanCERN is also embarking on a joint planning exercise with EQC regarding land education and settlement support and we are working with MBIE on a project regarding the quality of foundation assessment and repairs.

These are huge opportunities for the stuck residents as we ensure the reality of the resident’s experience is represented at the planning table. Agencies are now accepting that we do have people that need extra attention in terms of solutions that meet their very complex situations. They understand that communicating with stuck residents demands a new set of skills and tools and they are reaching out to the community for solutions.

We realise it’s a hard sell for CanCERN to convince stuck residents that there is a new recovery space being developed between the formal and informal – a space of cooperation and collaboration. We also understand that the very term ‘collaboration’ may be perceived as a negative. We have recently been accused of being quislings (Google that one!) but we are actually proud of the space we are working in and are taking every opportunity to work with the agencies and organisations to make sure there are better outcomes for the stuck residents.

Disaster recovery is only as good as the collaborations that can be established. It is just too big and too complex to do things in silos and the new kind of vulnerable demand a different kind of support. These things happen in the space between the formal and the informal – the space of coordination, collaboration, flexibility and innovation. We intend to ensure that stuck residents are well represented as co-leaders in this space and we encourage you to engage in this space of solutions. The ‘them and us’ mentality is getting residents nowhere so perhaps the better option is to join the ‘solutions for the stuck’ space.