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The silverlining of Covid-19 for Neighbourhood Support

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

Manuwatu Standard

Daryl Dean, from Menzshed, updates the Neighbourhood Support signs.

Neighbourhood Support is juggling a spike in residents signing up to the service since lockdown began. Nationally, Neighbourhood Support saw a huge spike in interest during the lockdown, with enquiries increasing by 138 per cent since March.

With the surge of new groups, it was more important than ever for the service to keep the momentum going, Neighbourhood Support chief executive Tess Casey said.

"What we're really keen to make sure we're doing at the moment is make sure that interest doesn't taper off.

Palmerston North's Manager Alison Jarden is thankful more neighbourhoods are connecting following Covid-19.
"We're not through this thing yet and I think everybody is really aware it's a fragile situation. I don't want to go back into Alert Level 3 or 4 but if we do, those support networks need to be maintained so that they're still in place."

Being visible in communities was key to helping people stay connected, Casey said.

Across Palmerston North, old, unreadable Neighbourhood Watch signs hang on streets that may have inactive support groups.

Evolving from its former role of reducing criminal activity, Neighbourhood Support was about safe, resilient and connected communities, Casey said.

"Safety means more than just an absence of crime, safety means how you feel where you live on a day-to-day basis," she said.

The city's 20-year-old support signs have slowly been updated with a fresh face for active groups.

Some of Palmerston North's Neighbourhood Support signs are more than 20 years old.

Daryl Dean, 57, helps Neighbourhood Support put together the new signage for groups, made from donated materials from Bunnings and a grant from Pub Charities.

"Because of lockdown I haven't put up very many signs at all," Dean said.

But that could be for the better as Palmerston North's Neighbourhood Support manager Alison Jarden was only a few pages into her checks on active support groups before she was inundated with start-up requests.

And with another 300 signs to erect across the city Jarden hoped people would feel safer knowing there was an active Neighbourhood Support network in their community.

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