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“A shovel or a shopping cart”: lessons from ten years of disaster response by a student-led volunteer group

Authors
  • Carlton, Sally1
  • Nissen, Sylvia1
  • Wong, Jennifer H. K.1
  • Johnson, Sam2
  • 1 Lincoln University,
  • 2 Student Volunteer Army, Christchurch, New Zealand
Type
Published Article
Journal
Natural Hazards
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Sep 21, 2021
Pages
1–18
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11069-021-05043-7
PMID: 34566259
PMCID: PMC8453034
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Original Paper
License
Unknown

Abstract

Recent years have seen growing interest in enabling volunteers to play a more pronounced role in disaster response, and yet efforts to systematically analyse this crisis volunteer action, particularly among young people, have been surprisingly limited. This study examines the case of the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) in Aotearoa New Zealand, a student-led group which over the space of a decade has responded to multiple disasters, including earthquakes, floods, fires, a terrorist attack and the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawing on in-depth interviews, our analysis compares the practices adopted by the SVA in response to these different crises and identifies how members and supporters of the group have come to understand its capabilities, limitations, and conditions for effective operation. We present a framework of cross-cutting lessons of “why”, “who”, “when”, “what” and “how” and demonstrate the ways they have been built upon for each new disaster mobilisation. In distilling, the key lessons of a youth-led crisis volunteer group that has mobilised for a spectrum of disasters, this paper contributes to theoretical understandings of how groups at a local level learn after sequential disasters, and the conditions and considerations that enable such groups to effectively—and repeatedly—“meet a need” in disaster response.

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