Cit­i­zens Ad­vice marks 50 years in business

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - KRIS DANDO

From mar­riage coun­selling in 1966 to in­ter­net scams in 2016 - the is­sues might have evolved, but hav­ing some­one to of­fer ad­vice has not.

The Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau be­gan life as the The Fam­ily Cen­tre in the IOOF build­ing in the CBD, one year af­ter Porirua was anointed a city in 1965.

Cur­rent man­ager San­dra An­drews said like any new city that was wel­com­ing work­ers and new mi­grants, fac­tors such as lone­li­ness, where to find lo­cal ser­vices, bud­get­ing and even mar­riage coun­selling were ever present. Things were low-key to start. ‘‘From what I un­der­stand, they used to be based on the se­cond floor of the [IOOF] build­ing and staff would in­ter­view peo­ple on the stairs,’’ An­drews said.

Things like con­fi­den­tial­ity, pri­vacy or health and safety had not be­come catchcrys yet, as the ser­vice of­fered ad­vice on a myr­iad of mat­ters and linked peo­ple with gov­ern­ment de­part­ments.

In 1976 The Fam­ily Cen­tre changed its name to Porirua Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau, six years be­hind the first CAB, in Auck­land.

The ser­vice peaked in the early 1980s, tak­ing 10,228 enquiries in one year.

The bureau con­tin­ued to of­fer bud­get­ing and le­gal ad­vice and even housed adult lit­er­acy and English As A Se­cond Lan­guage pro­grammes.

Re­ly­ing pre­vi­ously on vol­un­teers, a full­time co­or­di­na­tor was even­tu­ally es­tab­lished, which is what An­drews’ role is to­day, and in the mid1990s moved into Pem­ber House.

Does the bureau have a fu­ture?

‘‘It does, I’m sure of it,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re still tak­ing 7000 en­quires a year - some have be­come about con­sumer is­sues, like scams, but we still get the same things as we al­ways have, just maybe a bit more com­plex.

‘‘Mi­grants need ad­vice, some­one needs to know how how high a fence can be on their prop­erty, there are ten­ancy queries - the list goes on.’’

An­drews said face-to-face in­ter­ac­tion would be de­sired by a cer­tain sec­tion of the pub­lic - she dealt with a client this week who had no in­ter­net - and that in­cluded young peo­ple through to se­nior cit­i­zens.

Fund­ing is pri­mar­ily from grants, along with a size­able chunk from Porirua City Coun­cil.

More than 40 staff vol­un­teer at CAB and re­cruit­ment was only re­quired on oc­ca­sion, An­drews said.

PHOTO: KRIS DANDO

Porirua Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau vol­un­teer Martina Gyde with the de­fib­ril­la­tor they are do­nat­ing.

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