Signage . . . The Mulqueen family of North Gore (from left) Ivy (6), mother Gemma Perry, Cia (4), Finn (11) and Nate (10) along with constable Ryan McCallum of Gore admire the new Neighbourhood Support signs which will be fastened to power poles in the streets where neighbours are part of the programme. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Even though she knows most of her neighbours, Gemma Perry thinks it is a good idea to be part of the Neighbourhood Support programme.

The programme, which was launched in Eastern Southland last year, is a joint venture between police and the Community Networking Trust (CNT).

It is similar to the Neighbourhood Watch project, which started in the 1970s and was renamed Neighbourhood Support in 2000.

In the past few years, the programme has been rebranded and the emphasis changed to developing safe, resilient and connected communities.

Ms Perry said she saw the programme as a way of gathering all the neighbours under the same ‘‘umbrella’’.

‘‘It’s a way to share information and happenings in the community.’’

Knowing who your neighbours were was not only important in emergency situations, she said.

‘‘It’s nice to know who you live next door to and be able to support each other.’’

Recently, she heard a neighbour’s smoke alarm sounding.

‘‘I didn’t ‘know them’ know them, but I knew them well enough to go and knock on their door,’’ Ms Perry said.

In North Gore, where she and her family lived, the children of the street often played together, she said.

‘‘If you know the people on your street, you can do that.’’

CNT staff member Kelly Young and Constable Julie Russell have been co-ordinating the programme and encouraging residents to sign up.

Residents who joined the programme became part of an email network, and in an emergency that information would be very useful, Mrs Young said.

‘‘The more connected we are in case of an emergency, the better.’’

Those in the programme would also receive newsletters and community notices, she said.

However, signing up did not require a time commitment from residents.

‘‘The whole programme is designed for you to do as little or as much as you like.’’

At present, Mrs Young is running a competition for people to find and photograph the former Neighbourhood Support signs, which are displayed on streets that were once part of the programme.

These signs will be replaced with new ones.

Const Russell said the programme had some useful tools in it.

For example, if the need arose, police could send information to Mrs Young for her to pass on to the appropriate residents, if they were part of the programme.