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People With Diabilities Affected By Earthquake Need To Speak Up, Says Head Of CBM

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
People With Diabilities Affected By Earthquake Need To Speak Up, Says Head Of CBM

Darren Ward, CEO of disability organisation cbm, says people with a disability who need help in Christchurch need to speak up. Mr Ward and a team of three experts in disability have spent the last five days in Christchurch helping to coordinate and facilitate relief for people with disabilities in the earthquake-devastated city.

“We are seeing people with physical and intellectual disabilities who have been left to their own devices, not through cruelty or neglect, but because people and organisations are just overwhelmed.”

Christchurch’s networks of disability service providers still exist and are reaching out to their constituents, Mr Ward says, but in this time of extreme crisis there is a need for additional coordination and communication capacity to connect individuals with specialised services. cbm is working to offer this support capacity.

“If you are a person with a disability, or know a person with a disability who is in need of special assistance please call the Government’s Earthquake Helpline on 0800 779 997 and alert the relief services to the issue,” says Mr Ward.

Since the Canterbury earthquake cbm has been working alongside the Ministry of Health serving as a conduit between agencies such as CCS Disability Action, the Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind and the Salvation Army to assess individual situations and match individuals’ needs with the right services.

“Once the problem has been reported the organisation’s health and welfare teams on the ground will make contact to assess how best they can start supporting that individual’s needs immediately. cbm is used to working in crisis areas overseas, such as the Haiti earthquake, and we’re using our understanding of disability in emergency situations, to help coordinate and facilitate in Christchurch.”

Mr Ward says, “At this stage, it’s all about man power, coordination and understanding the issue of disability in emergency. It’s about getting people with disabilities back in contact with their pre-existing networks and services.”

cbm New Zealand is part of an international aid organisation dedicated to improving the life of people with disabilities in the poorest countries of the world.

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