By Mick Jensen
A new, free advocacy service has started in Ashburton and volunteers are needed to help support it.
Anglican Advocacy has already received local referrals and will work primarily to assist people who are already being supported by social service agencies and other groups.
Local co-ordinator Annie Bately said the service was available to anyone who needed support and advocacy and covered a very broad spectrum.
It could involve accompanying someone to a doctor, lawyer, or work and income appointment, through to other interviews, or school visits.
Mrs Bately said it was about offering help and reassurance, or directing people to other services.
She had spoken to a number of local groups, including Safer Ashburton, Plunket, Work and Income, Corrections, Salvation Army and Presbyterian Support and they had all been positive about the role the advocacy group could play.
“We are not support workers as such because we are not there for the long term.
“But a number of the agencies and social service providers simply don’t have the time or resources to offer what we can.”
Mrs Bately said advocacy volunteers needed a broad set of lifeskills and range of past or present work experience.
They needed to think on their feet and remain “cool, calm and collected”.
Prospective volunteers would be interviewed, undergo police checks, attend workshops and receive ongoing training.
She said two or three people were needed soon, while a pool of around a dozen would be ideal later.
The advocacy service would be offered in Ashburton, but could expand further afield with more resources and if there was demand.
Already signed up to offer his skills and knowledge is retired rural building contractor Warren James.
Mr James, who moved to Ashburton two years ago, said he saw the role as giving back to the community and the opportunity to meet new people.
He had completed training in conflict resolution and mediation and was keen to use that knowledge and his own lifeskills to advocate for others.
Anglican Advocacy has been offered a number of local venues to work from, but will usually meet clients at the referring agency.
Anyone wanting to volunteer their time to be an advocate, or in need of advocacy services, can contact Annie Bately on 027 220 400 or by email at email@example.com.