Work site information days were a positive way to build relationships with the local community. The public was invited to visit the site on a set day and meet the people working there.
Work in residential, commercial and businesses areas invariably happened "behind the fences" for safety reasons. Site visit information days were proven to be an effective way for the local community to get up close to see the work and speak to the people undertaking the repairs.
They provided an extremely effective tool to build and maintain community support. These information days proved invaluable in encouraging open dialogue and interaction between SCIRT and the local communities. Outcomes typically included:
- Providing the affected community with face-to-face interaction with real people which helped build reassurance, trust, understanding, tolerance and acceptance.
- Allowing the SCIRT Communication Team to learn more about the local community and their concerns about the project. They could then assess how to address the concerns.
- Generating a greater understanding of the work could give the community a sense of "ownership".
These events created positive outcomes for the SCIRT team and built pride in their work. They also enabled team members to better understand the community and the impact of the activities. Site visit information days worked for a variety of projects. They particularly suited large scale and/or highly disruptive projects, but were also suitable for long duration projects.
For example, an information day on site a few weeks before repairs began was a great opportunity to show the damage and explain the work and process. These events were also used to celebrate milestones or to acknowledge and thank the community for their patience.
The events typically took the form of the Communication Team and engineering and environmental colleagues inviting the "neighbours" and sometimes the wider Christchurch community, to the affected site to learn about the work and meet the SCIRT team.
On-site materials included posters explaining the work, maps and demonstrations from the safety and environmental teams. These events had a family focus. Parents were encouraged to bring children to learn about the project and reinforce the importance of staying safe around work sites.