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What if you don't have WhatsApp?

Times like the one we are currently experiencing definitely bring out the best in people. They also bring out our insecurities.

Who knew that so many people panic about toilet paper?

As I write this we will be going into full lockdown at midnight today. After that we will need to stay in our household ‘bubble’ for four weeks. For me this means not having my family popping in regularly, working from home and non-stop Zoom meetings.

Over the past week our team of Neighbourhood Support organisations around the country have been working hard to help street groups get organised and ready to support each other through this very strange and challenging time.

We are really worried that many people (and agencies) are making the assumption that everyone has access to the internet. Many of the ideas being shared and promoted about how to stay connected and keep up-to-date are reliant on access to devices, good internet connections and the confidence to use technology. For many in our communities this is not the case.

We have come across people who, for a variety of reasons, are not being reached through the channels we are relying on to get the messages out about COVID-19. And they will be isolated and excluded if we rely on WhatsApp and Facebook groups to maintain contact. Now that schools have closed this is likely to get worse. They are a place of connection, information and support for many families and children.

We are now entering a time where families are separated into individual household bubbles and unable to communicate and interact the way they normally do. Our neighbours are the ones who can step up and help. I am already eternally grateful to the neighbours of my 70+ parents. They have worked out a way to support them with supermarket shopping, stacked their firewood and are checking in regularly.

We are urging people to organise their street groups now, if they haven’t done so already. Feel free to share the templates we have developed to help groups identify the best way for everybody to stay in contact using the resources they have, and to work out who might need help and who can help them.

They are available on our website:

Kia kaha, everyone.

Tess Casey

Chief Executive

Neighbourhood Support New Zealand

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