THE manager of a citizens advice service is celebrating 25 years of serving the people of Hartlepool.
Joe Michna, manager of the Hartlepool Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), in Park Road, has carried out over 23,000 interviews with people needing help, and is still enjoying his work and the challenges today.
Joe began working for the Hartlepool CAB in 1988 when the bureau was based at an office premises on the town’s Victoria Road.
He began as deputy manager of the organisation, and was appointed manager in September 1989.
Over the years, Joe has overseen some significant changes in the way that the organisation operates and he was instrumental in securing funding from the then National Lottery Charities Board, which moved the CAB base to its current location.
Joe told the Mail that the good times have been when the CAB was able to secure funding for premises on Park Road and employ 22 paid staff.
The bad times came when it had to make 11 paid staff redundant after losing a funding bid from Hartlepool Borough Council last year.
During his service with the CAB, he has developed specialist skills in employment law, welfare benefits as well as consumer and housing law.
And he still maintains his specialist advice work skills and takes on average four client appointments a day in addition to carrying out his managerial duties.
Joe says he has represented over 200 clients at employment tribunals and 350 clients at welfare benefit tribunals.
Joe said: “I have been fortunate and blessed in that I have a job which I hugely enjoy and which over the years I have gained an immense amount of satisfaction from.
“The last 25 years have flown by and 1988, when I started with the CAB, seems like just yesterday. My 25 years as manager have also been a roller-coaster of the good, the bad, the challenging and the daunting.
“Giving advice and assistance to local residents gives me enormous job satisfaction and I am often stopped in the street by people whose names I cannot remember who I have apparently helped in the past – I always find this rather embarrassing – that they can remember my name but I cannot remember theirs!”
He added: “Despite some very significant financial difficulties during the last 18 months, the Hartlepool CAB is still here, still providing a vital service and I am still enjoying the job.
“I have an excellent team of paid and volunteer staff and it is they who have helped me get through the very difficult last 18 months.”
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