History in brief.

The Volunteer Army Foundation is the continuation of internationally acclaimed Student Volunteer Army that mobilised volunteers to support Christchurch, New Zealand after devastating earthquakes in 2010/11.
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The Student Volunteer Army began as a Facebook event in response to a clear and definite need – removal of liquefaction silt from a stunned city in September 2010. Four months later another devastating shake struck leaving 185 dead, a collapsed central city and 450,000 Tonnes of silt throughout suburban Christchurch.

Utilising the everyday technologies in their pockets, the Student Volunteer Army mobilised 11,000 fit and able bodies to respond to the

cries for help from everyday citizens. The response captured the hearts of New Zealanders near and far, and made international ripples in realising the scale of the self-coordinated youth response was unprecedented. Five efforts were mobilised over 16 months.

Members of the SVA core team subsequently spent time assisting Tsunami-stricken Japan, Nelson after 100-year flooding and two weeks in New York assisting and advising Hurricane

Sandy response efforts. The lessons learned, processes developed and technologies employed were captured and developed, with the founding members creating a Charitable Trust, the Volunteer Army Foundation, to house this knowledge. Three core team members remain with VAF who now specialise in designing programmes that maximize youth engagement.

History in depth.

On September 4th 2010 Christchurch was struck with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The Student Volunteer Army was created via a Facebook page started by Sam Johnson and served as a platform where people could find the necessary information about how to volunteer. Over the next two weeks a large team of dedicated students, primarily comprised of students from university clubs Lawsoc, Musoc, and Ensoc, provided safe and organised volunteer placement, transport, food and support for over 3300 students. They focused on low risk areas during the immediate response period and as a result the SVA helped cleared over 65,000 tonnes of silt caused by liquefaction in suburban Christchurch.
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September 4th, 2010
7.1
On September 4th 2010 Christchurch was struck with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The Student Volunteer Army was created via a Facebook page started by Sam Johnson and served as a platform where people could find the necessary information about how to volunteer. Over the next two weeks a large team of dedicated students, primarily comprised of students from university clubs Lawsoc, Musoc, and Ensoc, provided safe and organised volunteer placement, transport, food and support for over 3300 students. They focused on low risk areas during the immediate response period and as a result the SVA helped cleared over 65,000 tonnes of silt caused by liquefaction in suburban Christchurch.

This document displays the lessons learned from the first earthquake response, which was prepared for the 10th Annual Emergency Management Conference, scheduled for the 22nd of February in Wellington.

February 22nd, 2011
6.3
A devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake again struck Christchurch at 12.51 on the 22nd of February 2011 causing wide spread devastation and destruction. 185 people were killed, thousands of homes were damaged, and hundreds of buildings were uninhabitable. The city then faced an unprecedented challenge as people suffered, buildings continued to crumble and the extent of the damage became evident.

The six original team members of the Student Volunteer Army, Sam Johnson, Jade Rutherford, Gina Scandrett, Chris Duncan (CJ), Tom Young and Sam Gifford began to plan how to best facilitate another student response. The team was grateful for generous support from President Kohan McNab and the whole team at UCSA (University of Canterbury Students Association), Louis Brown (Te Waipounamu Foundation), Nathan Durkin and Anthony Rohan (White Elephant Trust), ENSOC, LAWSOC and MUSOC.

Together the core team of 15, and wider administration of 70+ managed three core

operations which the SVA focused on; battalions, squadrons and street teams. The mass deployment of volunteers, dubbed ‘Battalions’, was the initial focus which saw a maximum of 1000 volunteers, fed, watered and allocated to the worst affected areas of Christchurch via charter buses. Squadrons filled a similar role, except instead of students combing the streets and methodically searching for work, the squadrons responded to requests from individuals for assistance that came via our website, call centre and partnerships with Civil Defence and city councils. Up to 450 car loads of students were allocated via this system, using a mix of software, texting and Google mapping.

Street teams managed volunteer engagement for various organizations including multiple government departments, Civil Defence and Christchurch City Council. Our objective was to increase the efficiency in agencies providing a service; for example delivering chemical toilets and information pamphlets, laying sandbags, staffing data entry and manning call centres.

While the perceived focus was on shovelling silt, what mattered most was the intergenerational connection being created and the conversations that occurred between residents and students. Nothing beats a friendly face to talk with.
Two of the greatest challenges faced after both earthquakes was locating the areas where volunteers were most needed and prioritizing the work load. With the help of Geoop.com and Snap Internet, Jonas Bergler and a small team of computer engineering students designed a mobile management system for the Squadrons, whereby residents could register their need for assistance via a free call number, text message service or website. Each job was examined and prioritised by our call centre, manned largely by the Musical Theatre Society.
The Student Volunteer Army was invited by Global DIRT to collaborate with students in Japan following the devastating Great North Tsunami. Sam Johnson and Jason Pemberton spent two weeks in Ishinomaki with a group of students from Waseda University in Tokyo exchanging experiences, clearing properties and sharing the methods the SVA followed in Christchurch.
In 2012 the Student Volunteer Army began its non-emergency journey, making its mark as an organisation that promotes and facilitates volunteering in Christchurch. In 2012 the club organised a 150 person community garden working bee titled ‘Get in the Garden’; reactivated 6 vacant lots in a competition built together with Entre named the ‘Telogis In Our Back Yard Competition’; and responded to countless requests from charities, community groups and residents.
2012

In 2012 VAF produced ‘The Concert, a concerted effort: thanks to Skinny Mobile. Unlike any music event produced in New Zealand, the only way to get a ticket to ‘The Concert’ was to volunteer for 4+ hours. 8,500 predominantly young people contributed a total

of 50,000 hours of volunteering in over 900 events throughout an 8-month period, supporting hundreds of community groups through 2012 and into 2013.‘The Concert’ was generously supported by the Canterbury Community Trust, the Prime Ministers’

Earthquake Appeal Trust, Skinny Mobile, Kiwibank, Buddle Findlay, Lumley insurance, Convergence Media and many others committed to building on the success of the initial student movement.

Immediately following ‘The Concert’, two members of the VAF team were invited to travel to New York following Hurricane Sandy, again working with Global DIRT in sharing lessons from Christchurch. Jackson Rowland and Jason Pemberton spent close to three weeks working in an advisory capacity with local organisations. Lessons and successes from this trip shaped what has become the Student Volunteer Army Mock Disaster Response project.