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Christchurch staff coming together after mosque attacks

Thursday 21 March 2019 1:22pm

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Christchurch Medical Students' Association member Charlotte Skelton with a table of baking prepared by students wishing to boost morale and show support for other members of their campus.

The University of Otago, Christchurch’s main foyer has this week become a place to reflect, give and receive support, and share messages of condolence and support in a tribute book. It has also featured a table of baked goods made by medical students wanting to help nourish members of their campus community.

Following the terrible events of last Friday, the University and Christchurch campus set up a number of ways staff and students can access support. Campus members are also showing support as groups and individuals.

Medical student Charlotte Skelton was one of those who baked and spent time at the Christchurch Medical Students' Association (CMSA) bake stand in the foyer. She says CMSA members felt baking was one thing they could easily do to try and boost morale and show their support for other members of the campus. The stand has been full of baked goods throughout the week.

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The tribute table in the foyer of the University's Christchurch campus.

A tribute table has been set up in the corner of the foyer with candles, flowers, and a tribute book where staff and students can express their support and sympathies. The tribute book is brimming with kind words, including the Irish proverb ‘In the shelter of each other the people live’, and Martin Luther King’s assertion that ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that’.

Dunedin-based Occupational Mental Health and Wellbeing Adviser Carina Perner visited Christchurch with her colleague Cath Logan to provide support as part of the University’s offer of assistance to staff and students. Ms Perner says they were "genuinely moved and sincerely touched by all the support people in Christchurch continue to give each other".

She says it was heartening to see people regularly gathering together in the foyer. There were plenty of hugs, people asking after others and, of course, a lot of baking, she says.