The Mid Canterbury Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is open for business after an official opening and celebration yesterday.
The CAB office is based at Community House Mid Canterbury and will provide advice on a range of issues such as debt management and welfare benefits, housing, immigration and asylum, employment, consumer complaints and landlord-tenant disputes.
The service will be provided by trained volunteers and overseen by co-ordinator Sarah Clifford.
Mrs Clifford said the opening followed months of training and learning by a pool of volunteers.
Those volunteers were now ready to listen to people with their questions and would then research the issues to find relevant information.
“Our aim is to help people know their rights and empower them with the options to take the next step,” she said.
Some 10 community-minded volunteers have been trained to operate the new CAB office, which will be open from 10am until 1pm Monday to Friday.
More volunteers are expected to be trained next year and service operating hours could increase.
The opening of the new service was welcomed by Community House manager John Driscoll, who said the lack of a CAB in town had been commented on some 18 years ago.
He said it was an exciting time for Community House, for the community hub and for Ashburton.
The Mid Canterbury CAB has be supported with seed funding from Ashburton District Council and and an update of the community directory has received funding from COGS.
The official opening was attended by Ashburton mayor Neil Brown, council staff, management from CAB Canterbury and other invited guests.