Benita Robinson, Lower Hutt Debt Centre Manager was “humbled and surprised” to learn she was receiving the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
This week is National Volunteer Week, which has the theme “Recognise, Connect, Reimagine”, and Mrs Robinson is among the many selfless volunteers who offer their time to help Lower Hutt residents.
Mrs Robinson has been working closely with individuals and families who are struggling with unmanageable debt since 2014. A qualified Debt Coach, her work entails visiting clients at their homes and helping them work through budgets, as well as offering non-judgemental support and friendship.
The service is provided by Christians Against Poverty (CAP) who also work directly with money lenders on behalf of clients to negotiate affordable payments, and mitigate against unfair interest, charges and fees.
This free community service is made possible by the tireless work of Mrs Robinson who says it is important for those in financial difficulties to have somewhere to turn for guidance and help toward finding financial stability.
As of 2020, the Lower Hutt Debt Centre has helped over 140 Lower Hutt families become debt free through qualified guidance and emotional support, with 90% of CAP clients who go debt free remaining free from unmanageable debt after two years.
In addition to working long hours providing much-needed debt management counsel through CAP, Mrs Robinson also manages a volunteer team at the Victory Christian Centre where the centre is based.
The team provides a range of holistic care services and additional support to Debt Centre clients:
“We offer three to four free fun days per year, such as “fish n’ chip” evenings and clothing giveaways, and will accompany clients to Tenancy Tribunal hearings or MSD appointments as an advocate or support person”.
The team also assists clients with opening new bank accounts and liaising with other social service agencies in Lower Hutt, as necessary.
The Lower Hutt Debt Centre recently discovered that it had also been nominated, in conjunction with other CAP Centres in the Wellington area, for this year’s Wellington Airport Community Awards (winners to be announced shortly).
Anyone can make an appointment with the Lower Hutt Debt Centre, free of charge. Call 0508 227 111 to book an appointment, or visit the CAP website: https://www.capnz.org/get-help/debt-help
For more information on volunteering in Lower Hutt, visit: https://volunteerwellington.nz