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The Good Neighbour who's keeping an eye on everyone at 74

By: Jane Matthews


Charles Le Brenton, 74, just wants to make sure everyone on his street is handling the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Andy Jackson

In a time of crisis and isolation, good neighbours are what we need most. Jane Matthews brings you their stories. Charles Le Brenton may be over 70 but that hasn't stopped him checking in on his neighbourhood. Le Brenton is the watchdog of his New Plymouth street and when the coronavirus lockdown was announced, he started reaching out more than usual - in more ways than one. "I'm aware, while I'm not as young as I used to be, we do have a lot of elderly people around here," he said. "I've tried to keep an eye on people." Le Brenton has always been community minded. He's been part of Neighbourhood Support for around 30 years. But, he's put an extra call out to his Whiteley St neighbours, making sure they're all right in this time of chaos. As of Tuesday there were 647 confirmed and probable cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand. There were two new confirmed or probable cases of coronavirus in Taranaki, bringing the region's total to 13.

New Zealand went into lockdown at 11.59pm on Wednesday March 25. For the next four weeks everyone but essential workers must stay at home. While on lockdown people are able to exercise in their neighbourhood or travel to essential services such as supermarkets or pharmacies. All other activities should be avoided. "I've just rung people, or even emailed people, I thought I should check on," Le Brenton said. And being 74 hasn't stopped him with reaching out online either - Le Brenton posted on Neighbourly as another alternative. "I'm trying to just talk to people," he said. "You can only do so much because you've got to keep your distance."

Le Brenton said he and his wife had gone for small walks around their neighbourhood, too. "We just call across the road to check if they're alright." Le Brenton said it's good to have "localised action" where even one person along each street, much like him, can just "keep an eye on things". He said if everyone just does their bit in this time of crisis, it will help each community.

"I tried to encourage people to do the same as me," he said. "Just say hello over the fence."

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