Linda Greenalgh leads the Community and Social Recovery programme within the Recovery Office. Having played a pivotal role in the storm response and seeing the devastating effects of the storms on whānau, Linda is a passionate advocate for supporting the holistic recovery of people in storm-affected communities across Tāmaki Makaurau.
1. Tell us about yourself and your team?
I’m a proud Westie and mam to 6-year-old Áine and 10-year-old Darragh as well as Cooper Sausage, the retired racing Greyhound. After starting out in youth work, I found myself at Waitākere City Council, surrounded by incredible, values-led and ambitious wāhine toa—this experience continues to shape my mahi today. Over the last 20 years I’ve worked across the public sector in policy, operational and emergency management roles.
The impacts of this years’ weather events will be profound, long lasting and for some, life changing. My team focuses on working with individuals, whānau and communities to come to terms with what’s happened and managing the disruptions and changes caused.
We’re responsible for coordinating efforts to ensure that people have their immediate needs met, as well as supporting individuals, whānau and communities to shape their own futures. A lot of our mahi is about advocating for the needs of affected whānau and ensuring people have access to the things they need to recover well. We spend a lot of time out in communities to understand what’s going on and to see where there are unmet needs.
We’ve also just stood up our Navigator service, which provides individualised support for people who need assistance, particularly those dealing with the complexity and uncertainty of property categorisation.
2. Who are some of the groups you're working with, and how do you work together?
Recovery really is an exercise in relationships and coordination! We work with residents’ groups, ratepayers’ associations, community organisations, NGOs, marae and government agencies.
How we work together depends on the needs of that community. For some, it’s about making sure they have a point of contact into the team, for others, it’s about advocating alongside them for changes they are seeking. As we move through recovery the focus of our relationships will change and it might be about working together on local planning or funding groups to run events or other things that support their recoveries. And we’re really excited to explore what opportunities there are for partnership with mana whenua!
A homeowner recently gave us some positive feedback and I thought her reflection on the benefits of working together summed up really well what we’re trying to achieve:
As a conscious observer last night, the AC team did extremely well with taking the community through complex and (emotionally) hard stuff. It felt like there was real trust from both sides and I really hope we can foster that and help each other through the 'uncharted' waters ahead. A bit like the covid crisis - I think when we don't keep 'sides' at arm’s length, break down the barriers and genuinely co-design (what we can) we get a better outcome for all and the future. Because we all don't know what we don't know. We get to walk in each other’s shoes. Understand the constraints, challenges and navigate round them.
3. To close, what would you say to people reading this who are really struggling right now with uncertainty about what the future holds, and who should they contact for help?
What I would say is, it’s normal for you and your whānau to feel upset and physically drained right now. While we work to create the certainty that you need, there are things you can do to feel better.
We have people ready to provide support to you and your whānau and we want to hear from you, even if it’s just for a rant or a download. Our team of Navigators walk alongside whānau to help them access the information, services and support they need to plan their recoveries. This could be anything from helping to explain aspects of the property categorisation process and helping people to complete the online form, through to connecting individuals with mental health services. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you within a few days.
You can also free text or phone 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor.
It’s been a privilege meeting many of you out and about and online at various community events, and I’m looking forward to meeting many more of you in the coming weeks and months—maybe even with Cooper Sausage in tow!