Volunteers Callum Liefting and Louise Densham at the Wellsford CAB anniversary celebration.
Wellsford Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) recently celebrated a double anniversary, with local volunteer Louise Densham marking 35 years with the service as CAB itself celebrated 50 years in New Zealand.
Louise was one of the original volunteers when the Wellsford branch opened in 1986, when there were no computers and researching information was a far more laborious task.
“When we started back then it was a challenge, but for the community as a whole, it has been such an asset, with people having come to trust the bureau,” she says. “The CAB provided a safe place for people to ask their questions.”
Louise started volunteering with CAB after many years working as a nurse. She saw it as an opportunity to keep busy while serving her local community. At the time, many volunteers were full-time mothers with no other work experience, and she says CAB could be quite liberating for them.
“Once they started working at the CAB, we empowered them and often many would go on to find other jobs,” she says.
One of the more recent Wellsford volunteers in Callum Liefting, who now manages the Wellsford branch. He says he and Louise have seen an increase and change in enquiries in the year since the Covid-19 pandemic began, with people wanting to know more about things like the wage subsidy, border controls and various employment issues.
Although lockdowns have sometimes meant that the bureau hasn’t been able to open physically, volunteers have kept taking phone calls at home.
“We live in an increasingly complex world and some people are left behind,” he says. “CAB is playing an important role informing those people of their rights in society.” Louise agrees.
“Everybody has a right to be treated properly and fairly,” she says.
Wellsford CAB is free, independent and opens from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday, at the Wellsford Community Centre. Residents from Puhoi to Bryderwyn are welcome to use the bureau, which also offers a free legal monthly legal clinic, a Justice of the Peace and a budget service by appointment.
Info: Call 09 423 7333