Spreading help far and wide!

Carol Heena wants people to know the Free Public Advocacy Service can help anyone who is struggling with representing themselves when dealing with an organisation. Photo: Georgia Minkhorst.

The Free Public Advocacy Service – which began mid-2022 to provide support for people struggling to be heard or know where to go for help – is opening two new clinics in the city.

The Free Public Advocacy Service currently has clinics – with volunteer advocates to talk to people about their situations of concern – every week from 1pm-2.30pm on Tuesdays at Greerton Library, and on Thursdays at Welcome Bay Community Centre.

Now the service is opening a third clinic this month at Otūmoetai Social Supermarket from 10am-11.30am every Friday.

And a fourth clinic will open at Pāpāmoa Library in early-April.

The Free Public Advocacy Service was developed and launched nearly two years ago by long-serving social sector volunteer and employee Carol Heena.

“It is a community based charity which helps people to become aware of their rights,” says Carol.

“Volunteer advocates can help clients with anything from completing forms, to navigating challenges or attending meetings where they need someone to speak up for them to an organisation.”

Carol says she developed the service because she noticed that people in need of help often cannot find advocates quickly enough to assist them.

“Our aim is for advocacy to be easily available and by opening more clinics around Tauranga City and the Western Bay of Plenty, we can help more people.”

So far Carol says the FPAS has helped people from all walks of life who are in need – and it has no barriers around income or residency of those who seek advice or help.

“While help is not limited to low-income earners, for around 68 per cent of clients, wages aren’t their main source of income.”

In 2023 helping people with WINZ benefits was the most common issue FPAS assisted clients with.

Other common issues included housing, tenancies and ACC.

“FPAS has helped clients from those in their twenties to their late-eighties.

"We’re proud to have created a supportive and inclusive environment to navigate the challenges people face – and as we gain more volunteers we will continue to set up more clinics,” says Carol.

Find out more about the Free Public Advocacy Service on their website at: https://freepublicadvocacyservice.co.nz/  Or for more information, contact Carol Heena by emailing: FPAS.Carol@gmail.com or call 022 562 9845.

And if you are keen to become a advocate with the Free Public Advocacy Service – full training is given and no one works on their own until they-re ready to do so – give Carol a bell too!

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