I don't know what happened to the local "Neighbourhood Watch" group but it doesn't exist any more.
When they were first set up in this state a senior policeman, who knew the Senior Cat through their shared interest in conjuring, asked him if he would help with setting up a local group. The Senior Cat duly went ahead. They worked on it. He was involved for about fourteen or fifteen years. We have a rather nice plaque which was presented to the Senior Cat for his years of service.
When it reached a point where the Senior Cat felt he should pass the reins over to someone else another man took over. Unfortunately he was not well...and it was unfortunate because he was a lovely human being and did an excellent job. I helped in a vague sort of way with the newsletter and with delivering the newsletter.
The Senior Cat stopped going to night meetings. I can't drive a car so I don't do night meetings either. I was also doing my own form of "neighbourhood watch" when I pedalled out. It's nothing fancy or onerous. I just observe. I know most people on my regular route to and from the local shopping centre and the library. With some of the older people I have a system where they can leave a tiny "flag" sticking out of their letter box and I know to look inside and pick up a prescription for the chemist or, once in a while, a plea for some milk or a box of tea bags if they have been ill.
Not one person has ever abused the fact that, if I am going past, they can ask for that small amount of help. People say it is "good" of me but it isn't "good" at all. It is almost no extra effort. I know it might mean the difference between being able to stay safely at home or go out when you aren't feeling well.
There is someone around the corner who volunteers for the State Emergency Service. He can be called out any hour of the day or night when he's on duty. He's also a teacher and he's done a lot of it over the school holidays because we had some wild weather. He gave me a tired smile the other day and said he thought he was "welded to the chain saw". We both agreed there are people who ask for help who could do it themselves but they never seem to be the older people. So many of them will wait. They "don't want to be a nuisance".
Both of us had nice little notes the other day. He had one in a shaky hand thanking him for what he had done to help and saying it meant they could afford to get a repair done and thus stay in their own home a while longer. I had one from someone who lives in another country. His father was alone here for some years. He had Meals on Wheels and someone came in once a fortnight to clean his little unit. I know the Home Library service went in and out. I dropped his multiple prescriptions into the chemist on many occasions. His son said that the combined help he received let him go on living in his own little space. He wasn't a man to seek company and would have hated "aged care". His son actually said, "Dad would write and say how content he was and how the help he got let him be that way."
So this morning when I looked at the little headline in our state newspaper I thought, "Yes, in a crisis, fend for yourselves - and damn well look out for your neighbours as well."