Mum had returned to the world of social welfare and here she is given a rather large task to perform and, as usual, she makes a very good job of it.
Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston. (pp 166-170)
"Establishment of the Citizens Advice Bureau
Professor Saint asked me to accept the responsibility for establishing this service on a full time basis. I explained that I was earning my living and could not accept the position without a salary. C.O.S.S. agreed that I should receive a salary similar to that then being paid to me by A.P.T. Shipping as Confidential Secretary to the Managing Director and I therefore gave notice." (see previous story about APT Shipping).
"The first thing I had to do was look for suitable premises at ground level to give easy access to the aged, handicapped, and mothers with children, the location having to be as near as possible to the centre of the city.
To pay rent for such an office was beyond the Council, and we therefore pinned our hopes on being permitted to use the information bureau at the Perth Town Hall, Hay Street entrance, which had been set up for the Commonwealth Games and would be ideal for the purpose. Unfortunately Perth City Council was not in favour.
After searching hopefully around the city we again approached Mr Frank Boan. He had been good enough to find me space for the original office of the Slow Learning Children's Group and, later, allowed the pilot scheme for the League of Home Help to use the same office.
Our request this time was for space on the ground floor from which to launch the C.A.B. We realised we were asking a great deal of a retail store to be given ground floor space but, once again, this very fine man came to our aid and built us a small office in the Wellington Street end of Boans building, known as "Blues". The whole office was only 11 feet long and 4 feet wide, the last 4 feet being partitioned off to permit a client to be interviewed in privacy.
The furniture had to be small and most of it came from my home, including my new Oliver typewriter, which I wore out in the Council's service. We had our own telephone line installed, and office hours had to be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the same as Boans' office employees, which prevented any overtime.
(I went to school with her daughter Judith at Perth College) and Mrs Glad Christie during the years I was the Director of the C.A.B. They never failed me.
I was, of course, still Honorary Secretary of the Council of Social Service and carried out that work in my own time. It was thought I might be able to sandwich the work of C.O.S.S. in the office hours of the C.A.B., but this was not the case as I was kept very busy every day with the work of the Bureau. Prior to opening the office I commenced a card index with cross references of every service and facilities about which people might enquire.
The first day was expected to be rather slack, but Boans' employees were intrigued by the Bureau and came in with their own personal questions.
My first telephone client wanted information regarding certificates for a burial, and the second concerned the rules of lay-by. I immediately began a card system and recorded the correct information in alphabetical order for future reference. Over the years our card index was worth its weight in gold.
We were in communication with the C.A.B. in England and received from that body the fullest information concerning the service, together with supplies of the OWL posters. They were full of encouragement to spur us on, and even told us of a short film on the C.A.B., which was obtainable from the British High Commissioner's office, and showed a United Kingdom Bureau in actual operation.
At about that time Mr F.S.Cross sent Mrs Muriel Haning to me and suggested I might find her useful as a shorthand typist, although she was out of practice. This was one of the most pleasant things that could have happened to me as, although she had many home problems, Muriel gave me wonderful loyalty as well as excellent help and support as my secretary for many years. There were times. when the pressure was on and we were in other premises that she worked with me until very late at night after everybody else had gone home. Owing to our limited space at Boans there was no room for more than one, or at most two people. to wait in the office for attention, and there was often an overflow into Boan's shop."
O.K. now the C.A.B. has been set up and is running well. Bigger premises are much needed and in the next episode we find a move is imminent.
Muriel Haning was a wonderful lady. She adored my mother and would have done anything for her. Muriel had her own problems at home but she was always so cheerful whenever I had occasion to meet her.