Group helps poor, uninsured families

A community group set up after the February earthquake is working as the "ambulance at the bottom of the cliff" to help quake-hit families where other agencies have failed.

Addington Action, covering southern Christchurch from Phillipstown to Hoon Hay, has done about 800 jobs for 500 households on 115 streets since the quake.

The work has included emergency repairs on about 115 uninsured homes, delivering food parcels and offering support.

Disabled people, single parents with young children and elderly people who owned their own home but had no insurance were eligible for help.

"About half of the people who are uninsured are elderly," organiser Mike Peters said.

"They can't afford to maintain their properties and can't afford insurance.

"The other half are people who missed a payment around the time of the earthquake ... and lost their insurance."

Many people had lost insurance "through no fault of their own" because of delays in processing or problems making payments after the September 4 earthquake.

He had seen many cases of people struggling after losing their jobs or working fewer hours because of the quakes.

Peters said the Government or the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority should be looking into how they could help vulnerable families.

"We're having to do these things because of the failure of social welfare."

The issues were not new but had been "exacerbated by the quake", Peters said.

He called for a survey to identify the impact the quakes had had on people, including how many were uninsured and why, along with "the whole issue of income and housing".

Addington Action aimed to ensure all 115 uninsured homes in the area were made "waterproof and heatable" before next winter.

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The Press