Developing our people
Volunteers are the backbone of the Citizens Advice service. The value of the work done by bureaux volunteers (including trustees) is in excess of £86 million.*
We have streamlined the process for recruiting volunteers and ensure bureaux are involved throughout. Our corporate website (citizensadvice.org.uk) has been updated to include additional features which enable a potential volunteer to go directly to the bureau of their choice. Our recruitment hotline has also been developed.
Citizens Advice has been involved in the Millennium Volunteers project which has encouraged bureaux to sign up over 1,000 volunteers between the ages of 16 and 24. This finished in March 2008 but the work continues through the v project.
Funding from the charity v enabled Citizens Advice to work in partnership with bureaux throughout the country and create 330 part time voluntary positions and 27 full time positions. These were filled with 16-25 year olds, primarily from BME or Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) backgrounds. A toolkit is being developed to enable bureaux to encourage youth volunteering. We are submitting a bid to The Big Lottery Fund to promote teaching young people their rights and encouraging them to provide advice to other young people.
*Based on calculations using figures from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2006.
Over 1,400 training events were held by Citizens Advice during 2007/08. Materials have been produced across a range of subject areas including some for specific learner groups including older people, migrant workers, people with a learning disability and young people.
Citizens Advice continued its joint working with the Workers Educational Authority (WEA) to access funding for training. Electronic resources workshops were held across England and Wales to support the in-bureaux implementation of e-learning. We also started a new training consultancy phone line and email service during the year.
Last year we said we would develop an online booking system for all training events. This work remains unfinished whilst the feasibility of an integrated customer service for bureaux is mapped and reviewed.
Our work towards becoming a first point of contact on discrimination includes proactive measures to encourage diversity amongst Citizens Advice and bureau workers. As a result new volunteers are younger than existing volunteers, more BME volunteers are being recruited and Stonewall listed Citizens Advice at 24th in the top 100 employers of gay people.