Lockdown Hero - Brigitte Sistig
‘Absolute local hero, one that the community would be lost without.’ That’s how Brigitte Sistig, the chair of Grey Lynn 2030 community group has been described by its members. When Covid-19 hit New Zealand, many community groups rallied to support their locals, and Grey Lynn 2030 was one of those groups.
Brigitte worked tirelessly co-ordinating initiatives throughout lockdown. There were ‘Whats App Street Support Groups,’ where residents of a street were encouraged to start their own support group. The ‘Lockdown Photography Challenge’ encouraged the community to capture and share images of home life in lockdown, all shared on Facebook. ‘Applaud Our Essential Workers’ saw residents out on their driveways to sing, chant, play musical instruments and clap to show support for our essential workers.
Brigitte says, “My role was one of full on communication, co-ordinating the various Facebook and Whats App groups, checking in with what everyone was doing, Because Grey Lynn 2030 has been operating since 2008 we’re quite well known, so people, who either wanted to help or were in need, contacted us. There were always lots of little things. One woman wanted some books. Well, tricky in lockdown, but negotiation with a library contact got it organised.’
The ‘Whats App Street Support’ initiative had great feedback with many saying they met more people on their street than they ever had before. Many felt an overwhelming amount of camaraderie. This initiative ran for the entirety of Lockdown and is now growing into neighbourhood hubs.
The Facebook Photography Challenge represented daily documentation of the day-to-day activities, spaces and things that the community observed whilst in Lockdown. It allowed people to celebrate and share their experiences, which encouraged others to post and capture images of their own. It had a sort of snowball effect. From the group a video was created which forms an incredible documentation of the lockdown experience and highlights the resilience as a community.
Brigitte knows people really appreciated the connections made. “There’s a willingness and readiness for people to come together, all facing problems together.”
‘The more we face things together, the more powerful is the voice to make positive changes to our lives together.’
Brigitte, who is very active with climate change awareness, also spent a week supporting the online School Strike 4 Climate, which was organised to shine a light on and to encourage involvement in climate change in New Zealand. She says “it's about being creative, setting an example and cheering people up.”
The group wanted to keep community morale high, so they used Facebook to ask questions about people’s Lockdown experiences. From there they decided to create a survey to collect further information about their knowledge of recycling and their thoughts on time banks, community composting facilities and other community-led project ideas. Many volunteer applications were received, which they feel will be valuable in the running of events or projects in the future.
National Volunteer Week is a time to showcase the many individuals that came together, like Brigitte, to support their local communities, Who was your Brigitte Sistig in your community?
If you want to help others or a cause take a look at our current volunteering opportunities to help make a difference in your community. Or if you are a non-profit organisation and need some helpers, you can find out how to add your volunteer listings here. For corporates, take a look at our employee volunteering programme to see how we can help your team help the community. Otherwise, feel free to contact us. We’d love to hear from you.
Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi - The benefit of Working Together