Bureau looks for new blood 

The team at Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureau need more volunteers to help. Pictured are volunteers, from left, Marie Payne, Gwen Dobson and Barbara Wilson 

If you are the one people always looks to for help or advice, have highly-tuned problem solving skills and communicate well, then Cambridge needs you.

Volunteers operate the Cambridge Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Alpha Street from Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm. It needs new volunteers to help the community.

Manager Marie Payne says the bureau operates three shifts a day, so volunteers do not have to work all day. Most work 2½ hours – or one shift – a week.

Volunteers need to be friendly and inquisitive, she said.

“We need mature people with life experience and good communication skills to be trained as interviewers. Our interviewers deal with people either by phone or in person, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a broad range of issues, and questions about their rights.”

Before volunteers deal with the public, they get full training.

“Once trained, they get access to our vast on-line database to answer any enquiries. No day is the same, and no caller the same, and as a volunteer it is always time to learn more.”

Barbara Wilson has been volunteering for two years. She is a former primary school teacher whose skills in the classroom make her an ideal volunteer.

Some examples of recent enquiries handled by the Cambridge team:

  • A client’s drain was blocked where it crossed his neighbour’s property and he asked who was responsible for paying for it to be cleared, him or the neighbour? If the blockage was caused by damage to the pipe on the neighbour’s side, it would be the neighbour’s responsibility.
  • A tenant from Wellington had no tenancy agreement and the landlord put their rent up, effective immediately. What could she do about it? As there was no tenancy agreement
  • Tenancy Services could not intervene. However, a tenant must get at least 60 days’ written notice of a rent increase. She responded in writing (an email is fine) stating she would continue paying the current rent for 60 days, and that she may take her case to the Disputes’ Tribunal for a ruling.
  • A caller had purchased a motor vehicle over Trade Me. The vehicle broke down after a few kilometres. The seller did not respond to emails. If the car was purchased from a car dealer via Trade Me, the buyer could make a complaint to the Motor Vehicle Trades’ Association who have a mediation and a disputes’ resolution service. If the seller had not been a registered dealer, the recourse would be via the Trade Me complaints process and the Disputes Tribunal.

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