Taking care of whanau is what inspires Whaingaroa’s Neighbourhood Support coordinator Kathy Gilbert.
She views her community as a larger part of that whanau and believes that nurturing safe and caring neighbourhoods and communities is vital to reducing crime and building community resilience.
“I see all of us as one big family and the beauty about Neighbourhood Support is it covers people from all different backgrounds.”
Kathy will be a familiar face to many, she volunteered at the Raglan police station from 2006-2014 as watch house officer before volunteer roles were phased out across the country.
She moved to Raglan in 1998 to house-sit at Upper Bow St for Baha’i couple Miette and the late Murray Smith while they were away in Haifa, Israel – Murray was then deputy secretary-general of the Baha’i International Community.
A Baha’i herself, Kathy has worked as a volunteer in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, on a Native American reservation, and believes service to community is important for personal wellbeing.
Kathy says communities like Raglan, where many houses are unoccupied for long periods of time, benefit enormously from having Neighbourhood Support groups operating.
“Our neighbours are potentially the first people to notice anything amiss and if they are connected it makes it much easier to communicate information to one another and to the police, if need be.”
Rural communities are more attuned to this concept of looking out for one another, she says, and Ruapuke Neighbourhood Support group is a good example of this.
“There can be a burglary happening at the beach end and by the time they get to the other end at Te Papatapu Rd, the police are waiting for them,” she laughs.
Working closely with the police and other organisations in the community, Neighbourhood Support promotes and supports the development of Neighbourhood Support groups throughout New Zealand.
Neighbourhood Support has access to support and resources that helps neighbourhoods solve local problems, reduce crime, learn to prepare and cope with civil defence emergencies and much more.
Kath says knowing the skills of the community is a great asset that Neighbourhood Support can share in times of emergencies, but also in times when a neighbour might just need a helping hand.
“Being a part of a group is a really great help to the vulnerable people in our community.”
To form a Neighbourhood Support group contact Kathy on firstname.lastname@example.org and she will help you contact people to join your group and organise an initial meeting, as well as providing ongoing support.
Neighbourhood Support tips for keeping your home secure over the holiday season:
• Shut and lock all doors, even if you’re only going out for a short time.
• Close and lock all windows – burglars don’t like to smash glass.
• Do not “hide” keys outside your home, nor leave them in an obvious place near doors or windows.
• Make sure your valuables – including televisions and stereo systems – cannot be seen from outside.
• Make your home look occupied when you’re away by using timers on radios and lights
• When you buy new items like DVD players or video recorders, don’t advertise by leaving the empty boxes out for recycling, turn the boxes inside out and fold them down.
• Hide or lock away passports and official documents – identity fraud is on the rise.
• Don’t leave car keys near doors or windows – car theft through burglary is also on the rise.
• Consider engraving your property – this puts thieves off because it makes it harder to re-sell.
• Ensure you have an up to date list and photographs of your valuables and keep copies in a safe place.
• Record product serial numbers and register them on www.snap.org.nz. The website can assist the police and your insurance claim, and makes it easier to track your stolen property.