Citizens Advice marks 50 years in business
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.
Porirua Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer Martina Gyde with the defibrillator they are donating.