The Rotary Club of Porirua, NZ, in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) Porirua, is establishing a CAB satellite service in the heart of Porirua East to help address digital exclusion.
Porirua East communities include Maori and Pasifika peoples, with some families experiencing further disadvantage because essential information that could improve their lives is only accessible online.
Many families are unable to access this information because of the cost, lack of electronic devices, and language barriers. The problem is further exacerbated because they may not own cars, and the cost of public transport is a barrier to accessing services.
“Many families are unable to access this information because of the cost, lack of electronic devices, and language barriers. The problem is further exacerbated because they may not own cars, and the cost of public transport is a barrier to accessing services.”
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the CAB reported an increase in demand for their services. During the first wave of lockdowns, the Rotary Club of Porirua identified the need to support CAB with the establishment of a satellite service to bring much needed information to the local community.
According to CAB, their customers require one-on-one, in-person contact – which their trained volunteers provide – because information services are no longer available from many government departments. Families often find themselves being left behind, unable to fully participate in society. Many require assistance with issues around food, housing, debt, family breakdown, employment, and immigration.
CAB Porirua’s goal is to prevent people being disadvantaged through ignorance of their rights and obligations. They provide the time and space people need to work through problems and gain the knowledge and confidence to find a way through.
The satellite service in Porirua East will help bridge the gap and provide support for the local community.
Other services include information sessions for new migrants and refugees, clinics for JPs, budget advisors and benefit advocates, and they are also the agent for St Anne’s Food Bank. The Porirua Union and Community Health Service have also come on board and are working collaboratively with CAB to offer rent-free accommodation.
“We welcome the support from the Rotary Club of Porirua, which will turn a desire into a practical reality,” said Anne Goodman from CAB Porirua. “Demand for the CAB service in Porirua East post-COVID-19 is likely to increase due to job losses, poverty and insecurity.”
It is envisaged that the satellite service will build the capacity of the community by making information accessible for economic growth, entrepreneurial skills, community networking, and creating work opportunities. Access to technology will increase people’s skills, reduce language barriers, and strengthen the community.
Porirua club President, June Murugan, said members are excited about the project, which lies at the cornerstone of The Rotary Foundation’s goals.
“Providing this basic information service will improve essential services for families, mothers and children. They will be able to find the information they need or talk to the volunteer staff. This could have a positive impact on prevention of threatening diseases, other health related matters, and poverty challenges,” June said.
“The service also supports peacebuilding in the community. Being available to provide direction and access to appropriate information prevents conflict in families and communities.”
The satellite office will be fully operational in early December before the Christmas holidays.