Wednesday, April 8, 2015


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.
We had applied for, and received permission to hold a street appeal, and colleagues from the Women's Service Guild and Council of Social Services gave wholehearted support to the running of it.  We were relying on the proceeds from the collection to pay my salary and the office expenses.  In particular I would like to mention Mrs Edna Maloney, Mrs Marge Schonell (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.


  1. Hari OM
    this is still a wonderful and needful organisation - indeed they were on our national news last evening as it happens (some change in pensions funds and lots of folk needing pointers!) - poor old CAB though, getting the rough edge of folks' tongues when then make it clear they can only provide info, not actually advise. Folk get them confused with Legal Aid!

    The point being, much needed service!!! YAM xx

    1. The CAB is still called upon by many for help and if you note on the next post the Perth CAB had an hon. legal adviser so obviously some legal advice was available. I am wondering that the CAB you speak of in England didn't have similar advisers. Perhaps there are some topics completely outside their ability to offer advice on. xx

    2. Hari OM
      As far as I know the 'Legal Aid' format arose as a result of this need so that CAB could concentrate on the more day to day informational distributions. Closely linked and as I understand it, CAB officers who see the need can refer clients to the Legal Aid branch - but they themselves cannot 'advise'; and the same applies in the financial arena, which is what our recent news item was about. Yxx

    3. You are right of course Yam but if the two organisations work together it will benefit everyone seeking advice, or one can at least hope it will. There are always people who want too much for nothing these days. xx

  2. I am so glad that they were able to pay her. If not, I suspect she would have juggling things to try and make it happen anyway.

    1. Not quite sure in this case and now being separated from dad she had to earn her living although she must have been of pension age by then. I suppose with having to pay rent etc. the pension may not have stretched as far as she needed it to.

  3. Brilliant idea your mum had to start that card index. It must have been such a time saver in the months and years to come.

    1. She was a very well organised lady. Even at home everything was neat and tidy and yet she hated housework. Of course we didn't own very much so that would have helped with the tidiness. Not like today when we all own far too much 'stuff''. (*:*)