During this global health crisis, it is clear that working together and collaborating towards a better future is more important than ever.
These have been strange times. Sometimes it has been scary, watching the situation worsen overseas, and wondering what the impact might be for our families, our communities and our nation.
At the end of this, we hope for things to be different. We hope to see community and health prioritised. We hope our vulnerable communities are more connected and receive more support.
At Victory Community Centre our staff have been on the front lines and we’ll be sharing the experiences of our team. First up is Steph, our nurse.
Steph Anderson, Victory Community Nurse
7 May 2020
What’s work like now?
It’s been unusual working in such a quiet office, I miss the people and community vibe of our centre, I’m used to people popping in, having a chat and a cuppa.
On the plus side, there have been heaps of opportunities around working differently. It's been a magical time seeing people leaving their silos and working more cooperatively and collaboratively. This is all new for all of us. We are all in the same boat, people have put aside their egos, we are all working together, health promoters, dieticians, nurses, GPs, no one is a sole expert, we all have to work together to succeed. The strength of relationships formed through this experience is huge.
What's your biggest challenge?
Lots of stuff happened quickly - setting up the Covid screening/testing clinics, and providing welfare checks. The reality with Covid is that stuff changes every day and it's challenging to keep up with.
In the first few weeks of the crisis, I was working out of the Tahunanui testing station. Initially, it was quite scary, we had no idea how many cases we would find, we didn’t know how many people would come to us already infected and we hoped the protective measures we put in place would keep us all safe.
The other thing that was difficult was not being able to touch people - as a nurse this is an essential part of the role, especially when you are taking blood pressure, and reassuring people – it is tough!
What has kept you motivated?
As a nurse, the way I’ve nursed for 34 years, there is a strong philosophy in terms of stepping up in the face of adversity. So it's been really motivating to have that opportunity, I love working at the sharp end of keeping the community safe. It would have been frustrating if I’d been told to sit at home and wait this out.
As an old-school nurse, we were trained with a set of values, underpinned by lots of nursing philosophy, based on Florence Nightingale, ideas about providing vital services, always being there.
Also, what has been amazing has been the gratitude of the community. For example when we were operating the screening service out of the carpark at Harvey Norman, it was a hot day, a woman drove up and dropped off cold drinks. There were also constant numbers of people cycling by with their kids, dropping in to say thank you.
How did you keep yourself well?
I had to practice what I preach – I leave my work behind me at the end of the day. In times like these it’s best to focus on the short term and not get caught up with longer term worries. It’s also the small stuff that makes a difference, taking your dog for a walk, reading, and eating well.
What would you like us to know?
That there is lots of goodness in the community
Early on at Harvey Norman, a couple of women wandered by, had a chat, both had lost their jobs, they were struggling but found it hard to ask for help. I was able to give them some advice, and later dropped off a food package, and menstrual cups, and I referred them to Civil Defence who were really onto it in terms of providing support to community members. The women later contacted me and offered to bring the VCC food back. I said “put it in your pantry for later”. They said when they were back at work they would bring food to Victory Community Centre to redistribute to others.
Another example, I saw an English couple who were stuck in Nelson here before returning home. I helped them to access support. Before they got on their flight they dropped off six bags full of amazing pantry stuff, it was their generosity to want to give back. All about karma.
I have also noticed a more gentle interaction, we’re taking the time to say hello, noticing the people around us – our families, our neighbours and our wider community.
Post-covid, my ask is that health and community work is prioritised and better funded. Victory Community Centre is fortunate to have the support of Rata Foundation, PHO, NMDHB, Lotteries, Nelson City Council, Methodist Parish and many others, but more sustainable funding and greater funding security is needed