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Neighbourhood boost

7 September 2011

Two Massey University social work students are pumping up the lifeblood of Neighbourhood Support in Palmerston North.

Kimberley Dewhurst and Kosuke Okubo are developing resources for the organisation, and contacting residents and groups to explain why people should support Neighbourhood Support. The work is the practical placement part of their degree, and Mayor Jono Naylor helped organise it when he heard the group needed more help.

Palmerston North Neighbourhood Support field officer Warren Wealleans says the students have been concentrating on revitalising suburb and group co-ordinator numbers. They are also building an email information tree, which Mr Wealleans hopes will eventually cover every household that has email access.

Palmerston North has 41 suburbs; 33 urban and eight rural, but only 17 of these suburbs have co-ordinators. More are needed to help and recruit group co-ordinators, who look after their street or immediate neighbourhoods.

Mr Wealleans says Neighbourhood Support is getting to know your neighbours, to help keep each other safe.

"In the old days, before everyone moved round so much, everyone knew everyone. You knew the neighbours, the people in the next street. Your parents had gone to school with their parents. It was easy to see if a stranger came in, or if something was going on that shouldn't be going on."

These days, people moved frequently, and were busy. The leisured lifestyle New Zealanders used to enjoy, with time to chat over the fence, has disappeared for many people, and social isolation is on the increase.

Mr Wealleans says this busy-ness makes it difficult to get people to public meetings. He is setting up email trees to help link people together, as cyberspace is modern communication.

"If we can get an email address for every household in the city, we can communicate easily. We send out weekly bulletins about burglaries in the area, or warnings about things people need to know."

People interested in joining the email tree should email, and give their name, address and phone number.


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