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Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Queenstown

image CAB

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Queenstown

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Queenstown has experienced massive demand in the last three months helping more than 700 clients.  As an organisation, they have been at the front line of the changing needs of the community and they continue to adapt to ensure they can respond to the ongoing demand.  Part of this is predicting the needs that will flow as the economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis unfold and what services they will be asked to provide in the near term.

The demand in the last quarter was the highest level in CAB’s history and the Lakes Weekly sat down with Rachel Reece, manager of Queenstown’s CAB, to discuss the impact. “The demand has put a huge strain on the organisation but more importantly on its volunteers, without whom CAB would not be able to function. I am very proud of the way the local team has coped and the level of service they provide”.

Employees experiencing a redundancy process is very traumatic as it impacts on their livelihood and financial stability while being faced with the fact that they will be participating in a very competitive job market. Some employees do not feel that they have been treated fairly and that their employers have not followed the correct processes. On the flipside, employers are confronted with many stresses, including if they will have a business and have been doing their utmost to ensure they are keeping their workforce employed by accessing the wage subsidy.  Assisting with these queries requires certain skills, knowledge, and empathy.

Ms Reece continued “while the majority of cases have been assisting migrant workers we have also experienced a surge in locals looking for support which has been particularly difficult as many are in a very distressed state when they contact us. The loss of employment has had strong flow-on effects, such as people needing help with breaking fixed term tenancies when they can no longer afford rent”.

“Overall our region has been greatly impacted by the crisis, which is ongoing. Many have lost their jobs, many are experiencing financial hardship and many have little support.  Migrants are facing not being able to get home to their families as there are few flights and even then, they cannot afford them. The support migrants have received from so many in our community and from local and central government has been incredible”.

“Whilst it is still super busy, it is rewarding to know that we are able to help and our clients leave us feeling better and supported”.

Rachel is particularly proud of the CAB team who continue to provide a high quality level of service. The type of queries we are receiving has really changed and is now at another level.  We spend a lot of time with clients assisting and empowering them with options, ideas and solutions.  Our team at CAB adapts quickly and is responsive to our ever-changing environment.

The high level of demand has placed signficant stress on CAB because as a community agency it is heavily reliant on it’s volunteer workforce and grants.  This takes a toll on it’s already stretched resources and capacity.

Ms Reece concluded, “Thankfully, we have amazing volunteers and wonderful funding providers. Recently CAB has received additional funding, which will see us through the next 12 months. The funding could not have come at a more crucial time as we set ourselves up to cope with our continued changing demand for our services. We are gearing up to help locals by offering more legal clinics and introducing financial mentoring services in the near term”.