What our local Citizens Advice trustees do
Across England and Wales there are around 280 local Citizens Advice. Each one is a registered charity and, by law, has to have its own board of trustees who are responsible for leading the organisation and deciding how it is run.
What does a trustee do?
Trustees are volunteers who are expected to use their skills, knowledge and experience to help guide and govern their local Citizens Advice. They work with the Chief Executive and other staff to shape strategy and give direction.
This includes making sure that their local Citizens Advice is:
- Doing what it was set-up to do, such as offering high quality advice services to the local community.
- Complying with the law, including upkeep of premises, insurance, recruitment and equipment.
- Securing money to meet current and new demands, and that all funds are used responsibly.
- Recognised and valued by local organisations, funders and people, who are aware of the vital service their local Citizens Advice provides.
Attendance at regular meetings is expected by all trustees. Sometimes trustees will get involved in additional governance projects, such as supporting fundraising, developing strategy or overseeing HR procedures.
Within a board, some trustees will have a specific role, such as being the Chair, Treasurer or Secretary. These positions have defined responsibilities, such as chairing and facilitating meetings (Chair), overseeing the budget (Treasurer) and taking and circulating minutes (Secretary).
"I’ve been able to apply my business skills by using my experience of managing big call centre projects to help establish the Adviceline telephone service in Wales. I feel I’ve also been useful in mentoring managers based on my experience of running and leading projects."
Gordon, local and former national Citizens Advice Trustee
How much time is involved in volunteering as a trustee?
On average local Citizens Advice trustees spend around 8.5 hours every month undertaking trustee business.
Most trustee boards meet in the evenings to allow people to fit around full-time employment or studying. However, outside of meetings, trustees may be required to give additional support, such as working with members of staff on key projects (such as budgeting, recruitment or communications).
"Be prepared to put some effort in - there's no point in being a trustee if you don't - but it doesn't necessarily mean huge amounts of time. You'll get the rewards in terms of satisfaction - seeing the organisation succeed in helping a great many people to overcome serious problems."
Neil, local Citizens Advice Trustee and Treasurer
What qualifications are required?
No specific qualifications are required to be a trustee. Local Citizens Advice trustee boards welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and experience who are passionate about advice services and can bring innovative ideas, unique perspectives and good judgement.
Sometimes, a local Citizens Advice will be looking for a trustee with a specific skill-set, such as experience in law, advice services or fundraising. If so, this should be outlined in the role profile and description.
"Don't worry too much about being expert in what Citizens Advice does. There are plenty of opportunities to learn. What you really need to bring is a willingness to listen, weigh up options and be part of the decision making process."
Sarah, local Citizens Advice Chair of Trustees
What do you get as a trustee?
- Expenses - all trustees are volunteers, which means they aren’t paid. However, we do pay out of pocket expenses, such as travel to-and-from meetings.
- Training - all trustees are given training so that you know what is expected of you and how to carry out your role.
- Experience - being a trustee is a good experience to put on your CV. It shows that you can hold a position of responsibility, work with others and help to lead and guide an organisation.
- Satisfaction - as a trustee, you would be helping to deliver a vital local service that, along with other local Citizens Advice, helps millions of people every year to find a way forward.
- Networking opportunities - in total there is a network of around 280 local Citizens Advice across England and Wales, and over 2000 trustees. There are a number of national events and training opportunities available for trustees to attend.
"The Citizens Advice service challenges the social issues I feel passionate about. As a trustee I can help redress the imbalance of injustice."
Azad, local Citizens Advice Trustee
How do you become a trustee?
To become a trustee for a local Citizens Advice you need to:
- Search for volunteering opportunities near you to see if your local Citizens Advice is currently looking for new trustees.
- If they are, register your interest by clicking on ‘Apply now’, which will take you to an online form where you can submit your contact details.
- Your local Citizens Advice will then get in touch with you, letting you know more about the role and the application process. This will probably involve filling out an application form and attending an interview.