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Citizens Advice Bureau Wairarapa chairwoman Heather Pullar says all inquiries are welcome. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

What Wairarapa people need the most help with

Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

New statistics made public show what issues people are seeking advice about.

Citizens Advice Bureau Wairarapa helped with 1145 in-depth client inquiries in 2020, while also providing other services.

The main area of inquiry was residential tenancy, including disputes, accounting for about nine per cent of all inquiries.

This was closely followed by questions about employment contracts and conditions, which accounted for eight per cent.

CAB Wairarapa chairwoman Heather Pullar said the office had averaged at about eight inquiries a day last month, with as many as 14 on one day.

“There were no days where we had nobody.”

The numbers of people dropping in had steadily increased over the six years she had been with the organisation.

“I think that’s to do with what’s going on in society,” Pullar said.

She noticed an increase in employment queries last year, which she attributed to the impact of covid.

“We did have a run for a while on emergency housing,” she said.

“We’ve previously had spikes in people needing food parcels, but currently we’ve hardly had any calls about that.

“Currently, the spike is about tenancy, and that’s a nationwide trend.”

Queries made in Wairarapa were usually in line with those received by CAB sites nationwide.

“There’s nothing unusual that happens in our area compared to the rest of the country,” she said.

“Hunger and homelessness are not peculiar to us. Employment is another area that’s not peculiar to us.”

One of the more unexpected inquiries CAB Wairarapa had received was from an elderly woman, who called to ask what day it was.

“She had a clock to tell the time, but she didn’t know what day it was,” Pullar said.

After answering her question, CAB volunteers advised the woman to invest in a digital clock that showed both the time and date.

“We will talk to anybody about anything,” Pullar said.

“We don’t claim to know all the answers to all the questions, but we can direct people to the community organisations that can help them.”

All 32 staff at CAB Wairarapa were volunteers.

The office had opened in 1974 with two volunteers, four years after the first CAB opened in Auckland in 1970. There were now 82 CAB sites around New Zealand.

Staff received ongoing training and were capable of dealing with stressed people, Pullar said.

“Most volunteers come from a working background, so they’ve learned these life skills.”

She had worked with Lifeline and been a tutor before working with CAB, and wanted to continue helping people.

“I was facing retirement and wondering what to do with myself,” she said.

“My life’s work was around helping people and guiding people.”

Last week was CAB Awareness Week 2021.

  • CAB Wairarapa has been based at 43 Perry St, Masterton, since 2000. It was open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm

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