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Kiosk volunteers 'homeless' but still celebrating

Kiosk volunteers 'homeless' but still celebrating

The Police kiosk in Christchurch's Cathedral Square may be off limits inside the central city red zone - but that hasn't stopped kiosk volunteers from celebrating their 25th anniversary this week.

Over the past quarter-century hundreds of volunteers have helped out at the kiosk, providing backup to police operations in the central city.

But with the CBD locked down since the devastating February earthquake, the volunteers have been unable to return to the kiosk - until this week when some of them were escorted back into the Square for a look at the iconic building.

Volunteer coordinator Max Sword says it was great to see the kiosk still standing and still operating, "but to see the devastation all around it, especially the Cathedral, was heart-breaking.

"It's unbelievable that all that damage could happen in just a few seconds."

Senior Sergeant Gordon Spite, of Christchurch Central Police, says the kiosk was undamaged by the quake, and has continued to serve as a base for the central city beat section.

Before February, the volunteers had been an integral part of the kiosk's role in central city policing, he says.

"The volunteer presence in the kiosk means it's less like a police station - it's always been a more welcoming environment for the public," Senior Sergeant Spite says. "It means the door is always open, and there's always a voice on the phone.

"It's a shame that we haven't been able to fully reopen the kiosk since February - especially with the volunteers celebrating their anniversary - but I'm confident they will be back.

"We will definitely continue to have a strong presence in the central city in the future."

There are around 60 volunteers currently on the books, most of them retired people. Four of the current volunteers have been with the service for all its 25 years.

Volunteers look after a wide range of tasks including lost and found, minor offence reports, completing forms - and answering all queries from the public.

Max Sword says the volunteers make the kiosk almost an unofficial public information centre. "Especially later in the day when the tourist information centre would close, we got all sorts of enquiries from tourists and visitors."

He says the service has never struggled for volunteers ... "people enjoy putting the time in, and it gives them something to do. And we're all looking forward to getting back in to the kiosk when it re-opens to the public."

The kiosk, originally a bus information and ticket centre, was established in 1986 to provide a permanent Police presence in the Square.

ENDS

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