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Well-intentioned Help Risking Further Spread Of Covid-19, Neighbourhood Support Says

Well-meaning New Zealanders are putting themselves and others in danger without realising it, Neighbourhood Support New Zealand says.

Chief Executive Tess Casey says there is a huge amount of misinformation circulating in communities about what people can and can’t do to help, without spreading Covid-19.

“The best way you can help is to look after yourselves and your immediate neighbours. We need to stay where we live, not travel around our community.”

“If we all help the people who live near us, then everyone will be supported and we’ll all keep safe,” she says.

Tess Casey says it’s about helping in a safe way. “Even helping your neighbours still needs to done without compromising your bubble, so make sure you keep two metre distancing and follow other precautions such as hand-washing.”

Neighbourhood Support is concerned to see online groups setting up on social media that are not aware that some of what they are advocating is risky.

“Under normal circumstances a letterbox drop to neighbours would be fine, but we’ve learned that this could risk spreading the virus because it can live for up to 24 hours on paper.”

Similarly people are sharing surplus fruit, or household items but without considering the need for other precautions such as the need for gloves to be used, or for the item to be cleaned or quarantined before use or consumption.

Neighbourhood Support is also really worried about the number of electronic forms being distributed via social media where people in a street or neighbourhood are being encouraged to provide their names, ages, phone numbers and other personal information.

“We definitely need to know how to contact our immediate neighbours but we recommend sharing with a small group, rather than a larger group of people that you don’t know. There are risks and privacy issues associated with this. The advantage of setting your neighbourhood group up through Neighbourhood Support is that we can then make sure your information is stored safely and provide you with advice and support.”

Tess Casey says it is wonderful that New Zealanders are so keen to help each other, and with the lock-down, people have more time than usual to help. But it needs to be done in a safe way.

“If you want to help or if you need help, contact your local Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator and get involved in a group which is working alongside Police and other community agencies, and has accurate information and systems in place.”

People can find their local Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator by going to www.neighbourhoodsupport.co.nz , or they can call Neighbourhood Support New Zealand’s 0800 number, 0800 434 444.

Neighbourhood Support New Zealand is a registered charity that works alongside the New Zealand Police. It has 67 member organisations around the country whose job is to help set up and support Neighbourhood Support groups in their regions.

“We are very happy to help more people get involved with others in their community, but we want them to do it in a safe way.” Tess Casey says.

[ends]

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