Why volunteer with Citizens Advice?
It’s great that you're interested in finding out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice.
Our volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and bring with them different skills and experiences. Local Citizens Advice and Witness Service volunteers get involved with the service for different reasons and do a variety of roles. One things they have is common is that they find volunteering to be enjoying and rewarding.
Find out more about the experiences of some of our local Citizens Advice and Witness Service volunteers below:
Paula is a Gateway Assessor at Citizens Advice Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.
She was previously a Play leader at a preschool and full-time carer for her parents and has been volunteering with Citizens Advice for three months.
"Since volunteering at Citizens Advice I’d say my confidence has really blossomed. I am more confident on the telephone, interviewing people, typing and using computer systems.
I currently volunteer as a Gateway Assessor which involves exploring what the clients’ issues are, giving information, and referring them to an adviser or if appropriate, to another organisation.
Before becoming a volunteer at Citizens Advice I worked as a Play leader in a preschool and was then a full-time carer for my parents. I wanted to get back into work but have a change of career so applied for many jobs. I started to feel quite disheartened as I wasn’t getting any interviews. When I took my mother to for an advice appointment at Citizens Advice, I happened to mention that I was looking for work and the lovely adviser suggested that I might want to consider volunteering at the Citizens Advice to gain some new skills in a different environment. So that’s what I did!
Everyone at Citizens Advice made me so welcome and I am glad I was given the opportunity to join. Being a volunteer is really empowering. It builds your confidence, allows you to make new friends and learn so many new skills."
Gurjit is a Digital Adviser volunteering at Citizens Advice Peterborough.
She works in the Peterborough branch of a national bank and has recently been promoted and is currently undergoing management training in London.
“I chose to volunteer with Citizens Advice Peterborough as I wanted to give something back to the community in which I grew up. I wanted to use my skills and spare time help people but more to gain new skills, knowledge and meet new people.
My role involves speaking to clients requiring advice over the telephone, offering them information on a wide range of issues including housing, benefits and debt. I assist clients by providing them with the information they require; booking an appointment with one of our advisers; or signposting them to specialist services for further advice.
I enjoy supporting people in their time of need and to help them through their crisis. I also enjoy supporting people of all ages and backgrounds build their own skills and confidence to empower them to find information themselves via different channels such as the internet and telephone.
Volunteering has changed the way I see things. I have met volunteers and staff from all walks of life, which have helped me to build real relationships. I have gained multiple new skills that I believe will help me in the future, such as being impartial, and dealing with clients who are experiencing difficult and sometimes emotional situations.
I would recommend volunteering to anyone who is looking to make a difference as volunteering gives you a real-world experience. You will gain some of the most valuable life skills that will help you outside of your comfort zone by developing teamwork, problem solving and people skills.”
George volunteers writing funding bids and office admin.
He was previously an English Language student at Newcastle University and recently completed a Psychology masters at the University of Sunderland. He's been volunteering at Citizens Advice Sunderland for just over 7 months.
Most Citizens Advice roles are recruited to, but George's role - with his agreement - is flexible. "My role at Citizens Advice Sunderland is a bit of everything really!
I take a lead role in writing grant applications which starts with finding opportunities for funding and making sure they’re appropriate to us as an organisation. From there I talk to the rest of the team to come up with ideas and get evidence to support the applications for funding, and then sit down and write the actual bids! However, in the time that I’ve been here, my role has expanded to include a wide range of things from helping to deliver presentations about the services that Citizens Advice Sunderland offers to doing a bit of admin support around the office – basically if it sounds interesting and needs doing, I’m happy to do it.
Initially I started volunteering just to get some experience down on my CV after graduating, but the primary reason I’ve stayed is because I get the chance to make a difference in people’s lives and help them for the better. It's great to work for an organisation where I can let clients know that there are people that can help, are willing to help, and that they don’t have to deal with it alone.
The Citizens Advice Sunderland office is a great place to be, the people here are lovely and it’s a really positive atmosphere to be in and around. Plus it gets me out of the house a few days a week - which is a bonus!"
Sally is a volunteer adviser at Citizens Advice Maldon.
"I gave up my career to raise my children but as they grew and became more independent I found I needed a new purpose to my life, a new challenge. Citizens Advice is my purpose and a place where I can exercise my brain again. During my time at Citizens Advice I have grown as a person. I have more confidence and self-esteem and have new found interest in the world around me.
I had not always understood the difficulties people face and the reasons why some seem to struggle in life so much. From the training I have received and the opinions of others I have gained knowledge that I employ in my everyday life and I am also more flexible and open-minded in any situation. With a little bit of bad luck or a few bad choices I could also be struggling as so many people are and it is reassuring to think that there is someone there who will give their time to listen and offer constructive advice.
I had considered going back to paid employment but it seemed daunting after so many years away. Now, having gained new skills, knowledge and experience, the step into employment seems such a small one. Each time I am at Citizens Advice I learn something new.
I enjoy the company of the like-minded people I volunteer alongside and the conversations with the varied people I meet. I continue volunteering because it fills me with hope that there are so many people trying to make a difference every day. Volunteering gives me more balance in my life."
Since sharing this story, Sally has also undertaken a different role as a paid member of staff within Citizens Advice Maldon helping clients to claim Universal Credit (Help to Claim service) and as a supervisor.
Liz is a Witness Service court volunteer at Poole magistrates court.
She also works as a part time Law Professor in London.
"Since becoming a Witness Service volunteer I have learned how to be completely independent, non-judgmental and a really good listener.
I have never volunteered before but decided on the Witness Service as it fits nicely around my teaching.
My main role is to meet and greet witnesses and to support them for the duration of the day. I go through their paperwork, take them to look around the courtroom and generally try to help them feel at ease.
An integral part of my role is listening to witnesses when they speak. Not passive listening, really listening to them.”
For me, this role as is really rewarding and also allows you to meet so many new people. To do this role I think you have to be genuine, compassionate and be a really good listener.”
Peter is a Witness Service volunteer based at Worcester Magistrates court.
Peter is retired and has been volunteering since 2017.
“I find volunteering rewarding, it’s really nice seeing a witness change from being apprehensive to coming through the other side with the support given on the day.
"As a Witness Service volunteer I am the first point of call for witnesses when they arrive at court. I speak with them to find out their needs. Some clients have never been to court so I am there to give emotional support, and explain the process of giving evidence at court.
Since volunteering with the Witness Service I have gained a greater understanding of the wider impact of what's going on in the world. I have become even more compassionate and have gained a greater perspective on what it is like for a witness giving evidence. To do this role I think you have to be empathic, genuinely want to help people, be a great listener and also be approachable.
The best thing about my role is no two days are the same. You don’t know what’s going to happen until the witnesses turn up. Each client is different they are individuals and I always take something positive away from them at the end of my day.
Before becoming a Witness Service volunteer I had to shadow a fully trained volunteer. I then had my formal training (a 3 day course). From applying to being a fully trained volunteer around four months."
Louise is a Witness Service court volunteer based in York.
Louise was previously a volunteer magistrate and has been volunteering with the Witness Service for five years.
"Since volunteering for the Witness Service I would say I have become a really good listener. Some witnesses do not want to to talk, but for those who do, I have a really good listening ear. I meet and greet witnesses, explain my role and then take them to the specific waiting room. I explain that it can be a long wait, but I am there to support them for the duration of the day. And for vulnerable witnesses I let them know I can sit in court with them.
Before becoming a volunteer I did on the job shadowing and also my formal training. We have ongoing training which is really good as things do change. And we have 1-2-1 meetings which help us see how we are progressing as volunteers.
The most satisfying part of my role is knowing that people genuinely are happy that I supported them. This is always the case regardless of the witnesses outcome. Many say thank you and others give you hugs to show their appreciation.
For me being a Witness service volunteer is an extremely worthwhile role. You meet so many people and and work with people of all ages, from students to retirees. And in this role no day is ever the same which is also nice”.
Joy is an Outreach Volunteer for the Witness Service based in Swindon.
She previously worked in accounts and has been volunteering with the Witness service as a Court volunteer and Outreach volunteer for just over a year.
"Since volunteering with the Witness Service I have gained a deeper understanding of the court system. And the myriad of people, problems and barriers people face in relation to giving evidence.
In my role as an Outreach volunteer I visit vulnerable or intimidated witnesses before they give evidence to speak to them about the process of giving evidence. I can answer their questions, arrange court visits and generally try to put them at ease.
As an outreach volunteer you build up a bit of a rapport with the witness. Not only do I visit them, I also stay with them for the duration of the day when they give evidence.
I would say that since volunteering my listening skills have improved tremendously as have my social skills. Mainly because I spend a lot of time speaking and interacting with people.
I love being a Witness Service volunteer because it’s really varied and I get to meet so many different people that generally I would probably never ever get to meet.
Why not have a go at our short quiz to find out which area of volunteering in local Citizens Advice or Witness Service you might be interested in?
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