Citizens Advice Bureaux need people like you – whatever your skills, wherever you are
1 June 2012
As Volunteers’ Week kicks off today Citizens Advice is calling on people from all backgrounds to get in touch and find out how they can volunteer at their local Citizens Advice Bureau.
While no two Citizens Advice Bureaux are the same, many are looking for volunteers with different skills to help them with a wide variety of roles.
At a time of high unemployment, increasing economic pressure and cuts to public services, the invaluable contribution made by volunteers is needed more now than ever.
While Citizens Advice Bureaux already comprises 21,500 volunteers (making up 75 per cent of the entire service’s workforce), more yet are needed. Last year the service saw a huge increase in demand: as 2.1 million people were helped with 7.1 million enquiries.
Volunteers are needed for a variety of roles. These include: training as advisers, campaigning on social policy issues, working as bureaux receptionists, helping out with marketing, campaigning, finance, IT, administration, media relations, publicity, or even sitting on the trustee board. Some bureaux may benefit from a press or social media expert, for example, to help them raise awareness of common problems locally.
Opportunities are flexible – some volunteers choose to help out for a short period, while others have supported Citizens Advice for many years. Volunteering is an excellent way to develop your skills. Of the volunteer advisers who left the service in 2010/11, 27 per cent left for paid employment and nine per cent went into further education.
Many CAB volunteers say they get as much out of volunteering as the people they are helping. Dee Cummings, who volunteered on the Adviceline at Manchester Citizens Advice Bureau, echoes testimonials from across the bureaux network. She says “Volunteering at Manchester Citizens Advice Bureau has been a truly inspiring experience. The volunteers have shown me a new and committed way of working, beyond the payroll and I have found that this selfless way of working provides a valuable resource to those most in need. I am able to access training and am supported every step of the way by a great management team and excellent work colleagues. I work alongside other volunteers and law students who encourage and support me on a daily basis. I have never felt such support and enthusiasm in the workplace, and feel privileged to work amongst such honest, open and fair minded individuals. Volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau has given me the opportunity to make changes in my life and work experiences."
Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy said:
“As a result of the many recent reforms and cuts to services, as well as the biggest shake-up of welfare benefits for decades, there is a huge demand for the advice and policy influence Citizens Advice Bureaux staff and volunteers provide. Our volunteers give over £110 million worth of hours a year between them. They embed a bureau into its local community. Without their passion and generosity the service would struggle to survive, and the cost to the economy of unresolved problems would soar. As Citizens Advice improves its advice model to streamline the ‘advice journey’ clients take in future, volunteers will be a fundamental part of making that a success.
“Every Citizens Advice Bureau across England and Wales is an independent charity and each CAB recruits its own volunteers according to its specific needs and capacity. Find out more about the volunteering opportunities in your area by visiting your local CAB, or visit our website where you can fill in an online form which emails the bureau on your behalf: www.citizensadvice.org.uk.”
Volunteers Week is an annual event co-ordinated in England by Volunteering England to celebrate the fantastic contribution that millions of volunteers make across the UK. It is an opportunity for organisations to publicly recognise the work of their volunteers.
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more information in England and Wales see www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality. For online advice and information see www.adviceguide.org.uk
- Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.9 million problems from April 2011 to March 2012. For full 2011/2012 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
- Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable (nfpSynergy’s Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).
- Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,500 service outlets across England and Wales.