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Nearest help is your neighbour

Manawatu Standard
14 July 2011

By SANDRA CROSBIE


Do you know your neighbours well enough? In the case of an emergency, could you ask for, or offer assistance to those near you? These are questions asked by Allan Muntz in his role as the co-ordinator of Manawatu Neighbourhood Support.

Mr Muntz is employed part-time and works from an office at the front of the Feilding police station. He is the "face, eyes and ears" of Manawatu Neighbourhood Support.

Locally, the group is run by the Manawatu District Safer Communities Council, made up of representatives of seven community groups from Feilding, Bulls, Awahuri and Colyton. Their objective is to help keep our community safer and more caring.

Mr Muntz came into the role after 20 years in the air force and 20 years as a public servant.

"I love the community involvement and to be able to help the part of the community who wants to help themselves."

When he started his job four years ago, the group had 623 homes on the database. Today they have 2646 22 per cent of its area.

There are 330 groups in the Manawatu that range in size from three to 60 homes. The average size is 10 to 15 homes. A map in Mr Muntz's office highlights where groups are located, indicating a strong presence in the rural community.

"Rural-based police officer, Jill Martin was very instrumental in getting these established," he said.

"One Feilding group has been going since the 70s. They socially meet twice a year at the Rangitikei Club. Another group meets every third Sunday at a local cafe."

Some hold a street Christmas party to catch up on what has been happening all year and welcome new residents into the neighbourhood.

Neighbourhood Support has more to it than just socialising.

"People can let their neighbours know when they are going away. It is also helpful if they make plans with neighbouring people in the case of an emergency such as a flood or earthquake, especially if they work away from where they live, or have children at school."

The support between neighbours during and after the Christchurch earthquakes is clear evidence of how important it is to know your neighbours. Keeping an eye out and telling police of suspicious activity is encouraged.

"If you see someone hanging around a house or walking up and down the street with a backpack, give the police a call. If in doubt, ring them. They would rather prevent a crime."

The Feilding police strongly support Neighbourhood Support and provide office space.

"They do a fantastic job. If I was a young man, I would join up," Mr Muntz said.He shifted around a lot while with the air force and has been seven years in Manawatu.

"It is the first time I have felt at home. I have learnt the benefit of getting to know your neighbours."

He has also got involved in other community activities, including chairman of the Youth Board and is on the local distribution committee for Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS).

Manawatu Neighbourhood Support receives funding from Manawatu District Council and the Ministry of Justice. They are to seek other sources of funding.

Anyone wanting more information about Manawatu Neighbourhood Support can contact Mr Muntz on 323 7386 or mdscc@xtra.co.nz and ask to be on their email list for notifications.

Manawatu Neighbourhood Support is today starting a monthly column in the Feilding Herald written by Mr Muntz.


Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/feilding-herald/5284495/Nearest-help-is-your-neighbour

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