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Meet our Support Groups - Devonport

Ric Carlyon - Monday, July 13, 2015

The Support Group in Auckland’s North Shore marine suburb is relatively new and small. But, determined to enhance Justice of the Peace services in Devonport, its members have provided something of a model in the establishment of a new Service Desk.  
The first meeting of local Justices of the Peace, hosted by Jo Cliffe in her own home, was a milestone in establishing active JPs in the area. Some met for the first time while others were surprised to learn of other JPs in the district. From that meeting it was ascertained that there were probably enough Active and Trained JPs to help at a Service Desk, should one be established.  The group had to find a suitable venue, but a problem arose. The natural “home” would have been the local waterfront Public Library. But about the time Jo and her Group were thinking about a Service Desk the library was about to be demolished and replaced with a 7 million dollar state-of-the-art building, a year-long, programme. Rather than find temporary space, the Group decided to wait until the new library opened.
As opening day approached the Group began liaising with library staff who welcomed the idea of a Service Desk in the new building. Jo set about getting publicity to advise locals about the new service… an article in the local paper, inclusion in the Service Desks list on the JPs website, leaflets in the Post Office and business-houses and a sandwich-board sign. 
The new Service Desk opened on April 20th. It operates Monday afternoons, noon until 2pm. Local JPs take a turn about once in 2 months to maintain a roster. Jo Cliffe describes the venue, the new library, as “pleasant, vibrant… a stunning and convenient location” and says the librarians support the Desk, giving every encouragement.  “We set up in a quiet corner,” Jo says, “where there’s a desk and stools and space for people to sit and wait if required”. Local MP, Hon Maggie Barry, apologising for not being at the opening, subsequently mentioned the new Service Desk on her Face Book pages, further publicising the new Service Desk. 

Paddy Stafford Bush standing beside the banner (sponsored by Anne Iremonger and Jenny Hinton of Harcourts, Devonport), flanked by fellow JPs, Iain Fraser, Stan Collins, Mike Barlow
 and Martin Foster MNZM. Standing at the back is Sue Parr, the Devonport Library Manager 

Meantime the Devonport Group will continue with regular meetings with aspects of training built-in while for other sessions members will join with Justices of the Peace at Takapuna for specialised training. 
Of the future,  Jo says ,“Our thought is to add another day eventually... probably a Saturday morning... but prior to that we would like to hear from local JPs who are currently outside the Association and may be able to help us, and, as well, we'll be encouraging our MP to appoint some new active people within our area”.
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