I orea te tuatara ka patu ki waho: A problem is solved by continuing to find solutions

Are you expected to know everything?

This is one of the questions potential volunteers ask or consider with caution when becoming a volunteer for Citizens Advice Bureau.

After all, there are so many issues which people need help or support with to get them through their current situation.

“But “knowing things off the top of one’s head” is a no-no at CAB,” says Helensville manager Rani Timoti. “To provide quality information we must do the research using our CAB website as our first port of call. And clients need that reassurance in knowing the information they’re given is accurate and relevant, even if they’re under stress or time-pressured.”

One of Rani’s “go to” examples is if a tourist pops into the office wanting to see if he can visit the gannet colony at Muriwai. “As an avid boogie-boarder there I may say sure as I was only there yesterday. However, as a CAB volunteer, I would check our website and contact the local rangers to see if the colony would be open for visitors in the timeframe the tourist would be there.”

Taking the time to get it right and having a client-centred mantra are priorities for all volunteers. “Imagine if the tourist took my “off the top of my head local knowledge” and went there and it wasn’t open? CAB’s name would be dragged through the sand!”

Thankfully a thorough and comprehensive on-going learning and development training is available and expected for all volunteers from the newbies to the experienced ones.

“Complacency, a “know-it-all” attitude and comfort zones don’t work in our organisation because this life is unpredictable and so are the changes and challenges which come with it. Information changes constantly so we have to be onto it as far as our research delivery. Sometimes knowing nothing is better because you have to do the research and you also have the support of work colleagues.”

The saying “Variety is the spice of life” definitely applies to a day-in-the-life of a CAB volunteer.

At Helensville, client inquiries over the last few months range from relationship problems, elder abuse struggles and animals needing adoption or rescue to insurance difficulties after vehicle accidents, financial issues including providing advice about No Asset Procedures and employment contract and tenancy and lease negotiations.

However, the delivery of service also has to come with the right attitudes of active listening, being non-judgemental and confidentiality.

“Once again these are covered in our training which so often align with our personal values and ethics, along with the lived experiences and skills we bring to CAB too,” says Rani.

Potential volunteers are welcome. Contact details: Email: manager.helensville@cab.org.nz or phone 09 420-7162 or pop in to ask for an application form from our friendly volunteers at our office at 16 Commercial Rd, Helensville, open Monday to Friday, 10am to 1pm or Saturday, 10am to noon.

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