Mak­ing her own suc­cess story

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID JAMES

‘‘We saw the best of peo­ple, and the worst of peo­ple,’’ says Rachel Black.

‘‘But I never lost my be­lief in the ul­ti­mate kind­ness of the hu­man spirit.’’

Tak­ing the leap from be­ing a com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate to fam­ily law felt pretty nat­u­ral, says the former Marl­bor­ough Women’s Refuge man­ager.

Black has been ap­pointed branch man­ager for Eb­born Law in Blen­heim, where she will over­see op­er­a­tions across the top of the south.

Black is well-known to many com­mu­nity ser­vices, po­lice and gov­ern­ment agen­cies through her 16-year stint with Women’s Refuge.

Eb­born Law is the largest provider of fam­ily le­gal aid in New Zealand, which at­tracted Black to the job.

Black says she has al­ways been a staunch ad­vo­cate for equal op­por­tu­ni­ties and ac­cess to le­gal re­sources, es­pe­cially for fam­i­lies.

‘‘Dur­ing my time at Plun­ket, be­fore I joined the refuge move­ment, I saw peo­ple strug­gling to feed their chil­dren and them­selves and so they would go hun­gry.

‘‘Con­vinc­ing my col­leagues of this was an up­hill bat­tle, be­cause they them­selves had come from lives of priv­i­lege and found it hard to be­lieve that de­pri­va­tion ex­isted in New Zealand.’’

Black says it was the suc­cess sto­ries she saw through work­ing at Women’s Refuge that mo­ti­vated her to work in ar­eas of so­cial jus­tice.

‘‘We ran an amaz­ing women’s pro­gramme ... There were a lot of suc­cess sto­ries.

‘‘When women con­tact you maybe months or a cou­ple of years later, they’d say, ’Hey re­mem­ber me? This is where I am, this is what I am do­ing now. Things are re­ally great, you know, I’m safe, I’m healthy, and the chil­dren are do­ing great’.

‘‘That was re­ally re­ward­ing for me.

‘‘Every one of those sto­ries is a suc­cess, but even a woman walk­ing in the door is a suc­cess in its own way. Be­cause that’s a huge step to take.’’

Black says Eb­born Law recog­nised her ex­pe­ri­ence as an as­set to the new role in fam­ily law.

‘‘My val­ues and thoughts around so­cial jus­tice fit re­ally well with this firm be­cause they have the same val­ues,’’ Black says. ‘‘I think my knowl­edge around work­ing with clients, and my ex­pe­ri­ence with do­mes­tic and sex­ual vi­o­lence is recog­nised as a value.’’

And while it was hard to leave Women’s Refuge be­hind, Black is con­fi­dent it’s in good hands.

She says things have changed for the bet­ter around do­mes­tic vi­o­lence in the com­mu­nity.

For now, Black’s job be­gins with mak­ing con­nec­tions with other of­fices in the top of the south.

‘‘My role and my aim is to make this branch of­fice a suc­cess. I guess for me, I’m lucky that I know a lot of peo­ple in the so­cial ser­vice agen­cies, and I’ll be mak­ing the same con­nec­tions with sim­i­lar agen­cies in Nel­son and Motueka,’’ Black says.

Eb­born Law chief ex­ec­u­tive Jar­rod Coburn says the firm takes a holis­tic ap­proach to law, and that Black fits right into their phi­los­o­phy of con­nect­ing peo­ple, com­mu­ni­ties and ser­vices.

Black’s first ma­jor event will be a free fam­ily law work­shop in Blen­heim early next year.

DAVID JAMES/STUFF

Rachel Black leaves Women’s Refuge af­ter 16 years as she heads up op­er­a­tions for Eb­born Law across the top of the south.

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