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Profile: Barbara Mear


Hawke's Bay Regional Council Finance Team Leader Barbara Mear normally spends her days managing the council budgets and financial reporting, but for five weeks she worked in the Hawke's Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management Group logistics team as part of the regional response to COVID-19.

As part of her logistics role, Barbara processed urgent food parcel and clothing requests received through the regional 0800 welfare line, which was set up in April to meet the immediate basic needs of people until other services and supports could step in.

So far, the logistics team has arranged the delivery of more than 1000 food parcels and close to 50 winter clothing and blanket packages to people in hardship.

“Working in response was so different to my normal role, leading a team in a very visible setting. I would walk in the door in the morning and I wouldn’t lift my head until I was about to walk back out again – the time just went so quickly! The requirements of the logistics role were constantly changing so that was exciting to keep up with.

“One of the biggest challenges was getting the work done quickly enough to make sure no one fell through the cracks, as most requests we processed were urgent. I learnt not to stress under pressure, especially when the goal posts changed on an hourly basis at the initial stage.

“Dealing with people in need was so fulfilling. I loved how we could help so many people, and hearing the positive feedback from those people was so humbling.

“The most rewarding aspect of the job was when we scaled back the number of people having to work out at the Group Emergency Coordination Centre – it meant that all the hard work over the past couple of weeks had paid off, with better systems and process in place.

“I realised even more how important the role of Civil Defence is within our community and all the hard work, qualities and experience each team member brings to their respective roles. It was also great to mix with other people from other councils. Everyone brought their own skills and experience to the roles.”

13 May 2020

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