Overwhelming support for the Flaxmere Community Assist team has seen it made a permanent fixture.
At this month’s Hastings District Council meeting councillors resolved to make the service permanent following a year’s trial.
It was brought in at the start of the last financial year in response to community concerns about safety in the town centre area and a desire to deter anti-social behaviour. It was run as an extension to the equally successful City Assist service in Hastings.
But the team do a lot more than deter trouble and report suspicious behaviour to police, the report to Council showed. The purple-clad ambassadors model positive behaviour, steer people toward social agencies, provide residents and visitors with information and directions - and play ball with bored youngsters.
“There has been a very positive change in the atmosphere around our town centre since the team started,” said councillor Jacobi Poulain.
“Everyone loves them; they are so positive and friendly. You can tell by the public reaction that this is very important and has been successful in ways we did not necessarily foresee, especially around the positive role modelling.”
Councillor Henare O’Keefe said much of the success of the team was that the locals saw them as whanau, rather than Council officials. “They can relate; our people see them as aunties, uncles, nieces and nephews, rather than as Flaxmere Assist. It has been a resounding success.”
A survey of Flaxmere residents and business owners showed unanimous support for the team, with 100 per cent saying they felt safer since the introduction of the service and the same percentage wanting the service to continue. The continuation of the service also received the support of police and Age Concern Flaxmere.
4 October 2017
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