Use the CAB for everything from A to Z
We may live in the digital age with information mostly at hand but we still need vital help and advice from agencies like the Citizens Advice Bureau, writes Erin Reilly.
Last year my husband and I bought our first home. We had to fill in a lot (like, A LOT) of paperwork. Most of it needed an accompanying stamp of approval that we were in fact the people we claimed we were. Signatures from our mums weren’t going to cut the mustard.
The Citizens Advice Bureau came to mind. I was fairly certain there would be someone there who could verify my paperwork. But actually, did the Citizens Advice Bureau still exist?
The answer is ‘definitely’. The purpose of the Citizens Advice Bureau is all in the name: advice.
CAB volunteers aren’t specialists in any particular area, but they are experts in finding and using information, and empowering all New Zealanders with impartial information and independence.
The CAB isn’t about solving your problems for you; they make sure that every Kiwi has access to the information they need when making decisions.
The CAB is helpful for a whole range of reasons, the most wellknown being its Justice of the Peace services. A JP can witness documents like applications for citizenship or Kiwisaver withdrawals, and provide certified copies of documents such as birth and marriage certificates.
It’s not easy for migrants to settle in New Zealand, so CAB volunteers are specially-trained to help them adjust to their new lives. Some centres also offer free public workshops.
And if English isn’t your first language, the CAB Language Link offers advice and information in 24 languages.
If you’re in legal difficulty but can’t afford the legal fees, the CAB can be helpful for you too.
Free legal services are few and far between, but the CAB works with local legal practitioners to ensure that everyone can be fairly represented if they need to be.
Balancing expenses versus income is an art many people struggle with, and most CABs have a close relationship with budgeting services in their communities.
The same goes with emergency food aid, so if you or another family in your neighbourhood need a hand with the day-to-day, confidential assistance from your local food bank isn’t far away.
Maybe you’re struggling with your boss or think you’ve been unfairly dismissed from your job.
Ask your local CAB for specialist advice on employment issues. Some also present clinics on CV writing, careers counselling and preparing for an interview.
And if you’re stuck with consumer issues like buying and selling cars, applying for a loan, or dealing with scams or misrepresentation, some CABs can help with these issues too.
Of course, don’t forget that your neighbours might be able to help too. You never know; you might unknowingly live right next door to a JP! Just ask around on Neighbourly.co.nz.
The Citizens Advice Bureau is there to help with forms for every situation.
Neighbourly is a NZ-owned social media site creating easy ways for neighbours to talk and connect. Join us at neighbourly.co.nz or download our new iPhone and Android apps.