Friday, July 03, 2009

Practical ways churches can respond to Influenza A part 4

While this pandemic is not as severe as it might have been, Influenza A (H1N1) could affect one third of the Canterbury population over the next few months. This could mean a peak week with 40,000 – 60,000 people may be ill with Swine Flu, with 6,000 – 8,000 needing some form of assistance at home. The existing health and welfare systems may not be able to respond to this level of demand.

If this happens, the church in Christchurch has a potential opportunity to be the practical hands and feet of Jesus. Many churches have started thinking about this already and are keen to explore ways to offer a response.

There is currently an attempt to bring together a coordinated response across the city via a web-based volunteer self-registration website which can be accessed by health and council coordinator roles. This would give an opportunity for churches and other community groups to come together in a coordinated way in response to needs that emerge in the community – often in ways that existing services struggle to deal with.

Ideally churches would:
1. Use our notices, websites, blogs and networks to point people to (here) or 0800 37 30 37 and encourage people to consider being volunteer in a range of practical ways, practically in areas like childcare and home visits. They can register here. Non-patient contact functions are available if people are more comfortable with this option. Altering health and council coordinators to the availability of volunteers will make a big difference.
2. As many are doing, prepare flu packs with items like – food, soup, lemonade, aloe vera tissues, alcohol hand cleanser, recent magazine, inside things for bored kids to do, some prayers for healing – this can be offered as part of the coordinated city-wide volunteer response on the website, or into your local communities as many are doing.
3. Consider helping at the local flu centre in a new role being explored as we speak. The work load at the flu centre could be further streamlined, allowing more people to be cared for more efficiently, if there was a team of reliable volunteers willing to work at the flu centre, prepared to partner with nurses, consider practical support needs and ensure adequate support as people return home.

Considering being a volunteer raises a lot of questions, so do check out the FAQ or email a question via the volunteer self-registration website. Please leave a comment if you are interested in the new role at the flu centre, or have questions/suggestions.

For a Biblical encouragement to get involved, see here.

Posted by steve at 12:56 PM

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