Over the last few weeks, we have been reminded many times of fact that, whether we like it or not, we are part of a community. The welfare and wellbeing of each person in the community has an impact, either directly or indirectly, on the community as a whole. We are all in this together, as they say. Viruses are contagious, and to protect a community, each individual person needs to be kept safe and well. But as well as our health, our individual financial and social wellbeing is dependent on the financial and social wellbeing of the community as a whole. If businesses don’t succeed, there is increased unemployment and lower economic growth. Just like a virus, there is a contagion effect as in turn this low growth leads to more business failures, even more unemployment and lower standards of living. For communities to flourish, they need to be resilient. By definition, a resilient community is one which has a sustained ability to use available resources (energy, communication, transport, food etc) to respond to and withstand adverse situations such as natural disasters, economic shocks or pandemics. The key attributes of a resilient community, as outlined by the local Emergency Management Office, include:
- The community is connected and works together towards shared goals
- Individuals and social structures are engaged and empowered to make a difference
- The community has strong and trusting partnerships with each other
- People have a sense of place and belonging in their community. In times of stress, people want to stay.
In New Zealand, we have a network of local organisations who strive to build community resilience. They are Community Foundations, each with an individual name, but members of Community Foundations of New Zealand and right now, they need your help to make our communities stronger.