Wage subsidy, redundancy and questions around lockdown restrictions were just some of the inquiries Rotorua's Citizens Advice Bureau fielded over the past weeks.

Manager Jane Eynon-Richards says during levels 3 and 4 the bureau operated from home, so only could take phone calls and emails.

She says there was a team from around the country clearing the messages and then they would dish these out to volunteers who would research them from home.

"So numbers of inquiries were quite a lot less than our usual service and we in Rotorua were fielding calls from all over the country - not just Rotorua people."

Advertisement

Jane says the Rotorua Bureau re-opened the face-to-face information service on Monday.

It has slightly reduced hours – 9am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday.

"Yesterday [Monday] we were very busy and today [Tuesday] it has been very steady with enquiries about anything and everything.

"There are a few things we can't do at the moment – we are not offering the Justice of the Peace clinics or service, or our free legal clinics, and we do not have the public phone and computer available for clients to use. Other than that business is almost as normal."

Jane says at the beginning of the alert level 4, the bureau's main source of inquiries were all about the wage subsidy, being made redundant, issues with work and what people were allowed to do during the lockdown.

She says this was followed closely by issues around tenancy, boarding rights, and being able to move properties.

As the lockdown moved to level 3, the bureau started fielding a wider range of issues around consumer rights, problems with parcels not being delivered, neighbourhood issues, shared driveways, fences, people wanting to know when banks, post offices, shops were going to be open, and people wanting to access food parcels.

"It was extremely rewarding being able to continue the service over the lockdown.

Advertisement

"Not only did we continue to assist hundreds of people with information on their rights and options to resolve issues, but it meant the volunteers felt needed and useful, and were motivated to keep up-to-date with all the information people were bombarded with during the crisis."

Jane says the Rotorua volunteers also rang several hundred vulnerable people identified by Ministry of Social Development – those over 70 and living alone – to check on their welfare and let them know they hadn't been forgotten.

"It was great that we were able to assist with this project – using the natural interview and people skills that our volunteers have."