A day in the life of a volunteer

Publish Date : 09 Feb 2023
CDC Volunteer
Christie McFadyen from Auckland Council’s Governance team, volunteering at a Civil Defence Centre

During times of crisis and emergencies, there are always people who look at the urgent needs and support required and are there to help Aucklanders get through these challenging times. We highlight some of these incredible volunteers as a way of saying thank you to all who have committed their time to help Aucklanders in need.

Christie McFadyen is a senior advisor in Auckland Council’s Governance team. Her role is to ensure staff and elected members can serve the Auckland region through quality advice while ensuring the non-negotiables of governance are upheld. But in times of crisis, she puts her hand up to volunteer.

1. What made you volunteer in the first place?

I’ve been volunteering with civil defence for eight years now. I do it for a couple of reasons – first, I want to give back and help other people, and second, I enjoy the challenge. The situations you work in during a civil defence response are really interesting and often require critical thinking for fast paced decision making.

2. Is there a normal routine for your volunteering or does it change from day to day?

During this response I’ve been deployed to supervise a Civil Defence Centre (CDC). I have worked at the Māngere, Manu Tukutuku and Kelston CDC’s. At the start of my shift, I do a handover with the previous shift supervisor or read the situation report to get across anything I need to be aware of. I’ll introduce myself to the other volunteers on site and then it’s all go, helping coordinate the centre so it runs as efficiently as possible, then completing needs assessments for our community members who come in.

3. What is something you have seen during this emergency that has inspired you?

The community spirit. We have community volunteers and organisations onsite who have put in long hours, and they have been there several days in a row to support their communities. We have people coming in and dropping off donations of food, clothes, linen, wanting to give what they can.  

I have also been inspired by the people we are helping. They have faced trauma and adversity, yet they still exhibit so much grace and patience through the process.

4. You volunteered with the Papatoetoe tornado response a few years ago. How has this response differed to the response after the tornado?

The main difference is the scale. The tornado response was very localised, but with this one we’ve had people affected from all across Auckland. It’s been a huge effort and there’ll be a lot of ongoing work with the recovery.

5. Are there things you learn in volunteering in civil defence responses that you can take into your normal role?

I’m here to serve, no matter what part of council I’m operating within. In civil defence we need to treat everyone with dignity, kindness, and agency. I aim to always work with integrity and pragmatism, and I’m guided by the principle of always giving quality advice whichever role I am in.

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