Note: Before you start reading this blog, we would like to let you know that NSW will become a regular feature at blogoutwest. There is so much to cover that I didn’t think one interview would do justice to all that is NSW. I hope to bring you an update every six weeks.
I don’t think I have ever been in need of going to a police station but today I got to go to visit our local community Police Station in Te Atatu Peninsula to meet with Louise Grevel and Sharon Peters – Neighbourhood Support Waitakere Coordinators and defenders of our communities.
How long have you both been working with Neighbourhood Support Waitakere (NSW)?
Sharon: ‘I’ve been here 6 years full-time.’
Louise: ‘5 years part-time.’
Do you have common happenings in the community throughout the year?
‘Actually no, it varies and it changes all the time. We get all sorts of enquiries .’
What is the core message of NSW?
‘Communication is key – in NZ we used to communicate excellently back in the 50’s and 60’s where most households knew their neighbours and people looked out for each other and were very proactive neighbours. Today, in our communities, nothing starts without good communication – once you get to know your neighbours (face to face, not by technology alone) you begin to notice things more and the unusual tends to stand out – it’s human nature to start looking out for one another.’
‘A lot of the older generation don’t use technology, and there is a huge need to go back to grassroots communication – you can’t just put a form in someone’s letterbox to fill out and return, we need to talk with each other. Without having that real connection with our neighbours and community there is no basis for ongoing, genuine communication.
Our structure starts with our office – area contact – street – individual. Even if you don’t have a group in your street we will still keep you updated.’
What if you have neighbours that don’t want to get involved?
‘We only have one street that has a 100% connection rate out of all the streets we are involved with – it’s a journey, there are always going to be people who don’t want to be part of NSW or fostering community. Ideally you need to have a minimum of six homes for it to become a group for NSW – it can’t be just you and a neighbour.’
What is NSW like today? Is it more than looking out for neighbours well-being and property?
‘NSW has definitely moved on from the perception of neighbours peering out their window’s. We are not only involved in keeping crime levels low but Civil Defence plays a huge part in our operations. We are the hub for getting key messages out to the community and liasing with the Police, also working with the NZ Fire department and Auckland Council, included as our strategic partners. We run Junior Neighbourhood Support, we want to engage with our kids and make them aware and keep them safe encouraging a sense of pride, safety and community spirit.’
What does NSW not get involved with?
‘Contrary to some opinions we don’t get involved with resolving neighbour disputes, however we will give advice if people call about this. Our purpose is to serve the community and we don’t have any political or religious affiliations.’
Why is NSW in our streets and in our neighbourhoods so crucial?
‘It gives you options, if you have someone in need of immediate medical attention in your street and you know your neighbours and the various skill bases amongst them you can be more effective in medical or other urgent situations.’
‘At a local or national disaster level your neighbours will be the people you work with in those first days – if you have an existing relationship with good communication that’s a huge advantage. Don’t wait until there’s a crisis.’
What message do you want every reader of this blog to understand?
‘We try to educate everyone on who to call and when. People will call us instead of 111. I think there is a hesitancy to picking up the phone and dial 111 – a fear of being told that you are wasting police time but actually the police need to be able to connect the dots. If a pair of shoes was stolen from the back of a house for example and was called in, and a bike was stolen from another home and called in the police might be able to start to piece together smaller thefts in a certain area. Don’t count on someone else reporting incidents, each of us need to take responsibility and turn that into action.’
‘It’s no good only talking about incidents with your friends or on social media, incidents need to be documented with the police otherwise there are no trails to follow, there’s no pattern for the police to pick up on. There can be a degree of frustration with what seems to be a lack of efficiency in responding to thefts or the like, but material matters will always take second place to more serious situations involving lives.’
‘If something is happening right now call 111, if you would like to report something that has happened you can call anonymously Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111, or Henderson Police Station 8390600 and request the Crime Reporting line.’
What can happen on a ‘typical’ week in the office?
‘We can have people come to our door for advice – just recently we had a guy run down to our office as there was a guy lying in the middle of the roundabout who was unconscious and he didn’t know what to do – so we advised him to call 111, head back up there and stay on the line to emergency services.’
‘We send out a weekly email with community based information (over 5000 emails a week in Waitakere). We forward the weekly emails to our area/street contact who feeds it down to their members. They can add localised information to the weekly email. – including notes on what’s coming up. We keep our facebook page updated. There’s so much that can happen in a week, and no day let alone week is the same – there’s always something going on.’
How did you both become involved with working at NSW?
Sharon:’ I worked for free for 6 months, then worked part-time. I was looking for something on the job front, and I had a business background. NSW was initially based in Henderson I’m good with book keeping and data base work, and I was a consultant for small businesses – and even though I had a whole lot of experience I didn’t have a strong referral because I worked on my own. I love my job here, and I’m always thinking about how we could do things better.’
Louise: ‘I talked to Sharon at a birthday party we were both at . we talked about how to get NSW Waitakere Township up and running again, I spoke to lots of mums soon after and got it up and running as an area contact. I wasn’t working at the time and when the JNS/Coordinator position came up, I applied as it didn’t involve working school holidays – which has worked out well for me and my family.’
‘We work well together because we both have a depth of life experience and community is really fulfilling, we love what we do.’
How do you relax after a full on week at NSW?
Sharon: ‘I don’t have time to relax! Actually I really enjoy cuddling my new grandaughter.’
Louise: ‘I have three kids so there’s not much time to relax there either – I also enjoy DIY projects.’
Sharon lives in Henderson and Lou lives in Waitakere although they both feel like they live in Te Atatu Peninsula!
If you would like to sign up with NSW or check out their resources, or even connect on facebook check out the details below.
Neighbourhood Support Waitakere Office:
Te Atatu Police Station – 492 Te Atatu Rd
NSW Office Ph: 834 5815
Magazine – 3 issues a year, email us and we will post one out to you.