People may want to be at the Hub for many reasons. Some people will be there because they have a specific need, can offer assistance, or are wanting information, others may just want general support, comfort or company at a time of stress. The Community Space is a dedicated place where people can seek company, wait for help or resources, or hang out until needed.
Community Space role and tasks
Set up the Community Space
Have the Community Space as near to the rest of the Hub as possible. Ideally it will be a quiet space in a separate room away from the information boards. This could include the corner of a large space such as school hall or community centre.
Make sure that the space has seating and is accessible to people with mobility impairments.
Put up clear signage
Put up clear signage so people can find their way to the Community Space.
Be visible so people know who to approach if they need information or assistance
Wear the lanyard or use some other form of identification.
If anyone appears distressed, comfort them as you would a distressed friend, but avoid counselling them (don’t try to talk them into being happier)
While working in the Hub you should only provide comfort, do not attempt to counsel unless qualified to do so. You can provide comfort to people by listening to them, giving them information about the situation and helping them with their practical needs. It is important to provide an environment where affected people can maintain their dignity while receiving assistance.
When providing comfort, it is important that you:
Help people feel in control of themselves by letting them make their own decisions.
Help them recover their composure in their own way and in their own time. Often it is best to stay quietly with them until the emotion subsides.
Listen respectfully to everything they say, show it is important to you and that you wish to understand them.
Encourage them to think about who else they can get support from.
Take note of what people need; they may not be able to express or ask for it. You may be able to find solutions from within the Hub.
Don’t take anything they say personally, think of it as a message about how they feel.
When providing comfort, it is very important that you avoid some actions:
Don’t order people around or tell them to do things without explaining why.
Don’t tell them not to worry, that it could have been worse or that others are worse off.
Don’t talk down or patronise them.
Don’t be distracted when they are talking to you.
Don’t try to talk them out of their feelings.
Don’t reassure them that everything will be all right, when it may not be.
Don’t react to their anger or other emotions personally.
Don’t separate them from other people they are with.
Don’t get sentimental or excited with them.
Don’t deny them privacy or independence when they need it.
Based on advice from the Ministry of Health
Set out refreshments
If refreshments are available, set them out and keep the area tidy so people can help themselves.
Keep a record
Keep a record of any key actions or decisions you or your team makes.
The group of people in our community with impairments is wide and diverse. In fact, one in five people in New Zealand has some form of impairment. This could include a hearing, vision, physical, mobility or cognitive impairment. Ensure the community space caters for these different needs. Keep the community space inviting, well-lit and easy to access.
If you come across any information that could affect the community, the running of the Hub, or the wider response to the emergency, pass it on to the Information Coordination team.