Despite the office now based in the corner of the manager's lounge, the Rotorua Citizens Advice Bureau is still offering its service of free, impartial and confidential advice to anyone who needs it.

Following the Level 4 lockdown, a decision was made to keep the service running, although, in a different fashion.

With no face to face service allowed, access to the myriad of information and advice that the bureau gives via the telephone, website, Facebook and email is still available.

Rotorua Citizens Advice Bureau manager Jane Eynon-Richards said they were aware that at this crucial time people had a huge number of issues and questions to address.

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"Lives have literally been turned upside down in many cases with loss of jobs, inability to just get out of the house and access services, family and friends and uncertainty about when this might all end.

"People are used to the bureau being here to answer all sorts of questions, so we wanted to make sure we were here to help," Eynon-Richards said.

To make this new way of operating work, Eynon-Richards is acting as a triage point answering phone calls and emails.

The inquiries are then sent out to a team of volunteers who research the question and provide information and advice on what to do next which is then relayed back to the client.

"Those who have used the service in the last two weeks all seem to be so grateful that there is a voice at the end of the line to talk to," Eynon-Richards said.

"The bureau volunteers are also so enthusiastic about being on the roster and being available to help. I think being a CAB volunteer does get into the blood and becomes an important part of one's life – so being able to continue with the service during the lockdown is fantastic," she said.
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The types of calls received in the first two weeks of lockdown have been many and varied, with the majority around employment issues, the government wage subsidy and rules around self-isolation.

Other inquiries were around consumer rights, legal assistance, finding a JP, and neighbourhood disputes.

"No inquiry is too big or too small – the team of trained volunteers just want to help and make this tricky time less stressful for everyone."

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You can call the Rotorua CAB free from a mobile or landline on 0800 367 222 – calls are answered between 10.00am and 3.00pm Monday to Friday – you can also leave a message outside these times, email the Bureau on rotorua@cab.org.nz or visit the Rotorua Citizens Advice Bureau Facebook page or www.cab.org.nz