Understanding the benefits of volunteering
We can all face problems that seem complicated or intimidating and it can be difficult and stressful trying to work things out alone.
At Citizens Advice our volunteers help people find a way forward with the problems they face.
Apply now to find out more about volunteering opportunities in your local Citizens Advice and help us make a difference.
Citizens Advice volunteers come from all walks of life and choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. Our volunteers include students, people getting back into work after career breaks, people with part-time jobs, carers, and people who’ve retired.
Every volunteer gets something different from their volunteering experience, including the opportunity to:
- make a positive difference to people's' lives
- improve self esteem, confidence and wellbeing
- gain invaluable work experience
- receive high quality training and develop new skills
- use existing skills and knowledge to benefit the local community
- meet new people from a range of backgrounds
- feel valued and part of a team
- change the way things work for the better
Volunteering with Citizens Advice provides training, skills and experience that is valued by many employers. Many volunteers who leave local Citizens Advice go on to paid employment, including with the Citizens Advice service, as well as other organisations.
If you’re looking to get back into work, or considering a career with Citizens Advice, volunteering can be a great place to start.
Learn from the experiences of our volunteers
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 thing they have in common is that they find volunteering enjoyable and rewarding.
Liz - Witness Service court volunteer at Poole magistrates court
Liz 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."
Kyle - Generalist Adviser at Citizens Advice Newcastle
Kyle joined Citizens Advice 3 years ago as a volunteer whilst working full time.
“I joined Citizens Advice because it has got a good reputation, it is a trusted and well-known name and has good social values.
I am still working in retail but I used to be a trade union representative and had experience in advising and representing people. I wanted to help make a difference to people’s lives and gain valuable experience.
I volunteer at least once a week depending on my shifts at work. I give face to face advice in areas such as benefits and energy and signpost to other agencies when is more appropriate. The best thing is making a difference and learning new things. Citizens Advice provides opportunities for training and alongside my volunteering at Citizens Advice I have also completed my certificate in Information, Advice or Guidance."
To anyone thinking of volunteering at Citizens Advice Kyle says…
“Nobody gets anywhere in life being shy…you need to take the step forward. We need people with various experiences and skills to promote a better service. There will be times when it gets hard but no matter the outcome you become better, smarter and more aware of how things work.”
Kathleen is a generalist adviser at Citizens Advice Newcastle.
Kathleen volunteers with various charities and has been volunteering with Citizens Advice for 7 years.
“I was very closed-in while caring for my husband and I wanted to volunteer. I started giving people food at a foodbank and I would listen to stories. I am on benefits myself but wanted to know more to be able to help people in desperate need. I applied to be a volunteer at Citizens Advice to learn more and different things. I still volunteer in other charities but I volunteer at Citizens Advice 1 day a week and I absolutely love it!
Volunteering gave me the confidence to help people. You surprise yourself with how much you can learn and I feel good that I live in the area and I am helping my own community.
Volunteering has helped me with my mental health. It makes me get up, get ready and go out. I feel really good going in and I had a confidence boost for being accepted at Citizens Advice. I can help Citizens Advice and they help me- it is a 2-way thing."
To anyone thinking of volunteering, Kathleen says:
“I absolutely love it- go for it as you do not know what it is like until you take that step! There is no point thinking “I wish I had done it” later on. You will get the training needed and you do not give advice on your own- you have support from the supervisors. It’s good for your self-esteem. I feel confident and supported all the time.”
Arminder - Generalist Adviser for Citizens Advice Sandwell-Walsall
Arminder also works as a paid member of staff in the Debt team.
“When I applied for a voluntary opportunity with Citizens Advice, I was a student wanting to find a long-term career opportunity. I felt I could apply what I was studying and gain experience to help me with my career progression.
Prior to volunteering I worked in retail from general assistant to a manager and I felt I could use my management experience, organisational and customer service skills in making a difference.
I started supporting clients attending the walk-in service on a reception desk, before progressing to generalist advice. I now provide debt support as part of the team working from mobile units as a paid member of staff. I still volunteer as a generalist adviser both face to face and on the telephone."
To anyone thinking of volunteering, Arminder says:
“Never think twice about it and once given the opportunity, take advantage of as many opportunities to advise clients to develop professionally. Gain the opportunity to demonstrate a good level of commitment, to wanting to be part of a positive journey and believe in it. Take everything as constructive and always pay attention to training and learning opportunities."
David - Admin assistant at Citizens Advice County Durham, Consett office
David was previously a volunteer with the Blind Society and has been volunteering with Citizens Advice for two years.
"Since volunteering with Citizens Advice I have gained more administrative skills and interpersonal skills.“I currently work as an administrative assistant working on reception. My day to day work consists of giving forms to clients, making copies of documents, speaking with clients who are waiting and generally being a helpful person.
Before becoming a volunteer at Citizens Advice I had to do a test and an induction. I am visually impaired so find it difficult to read. To support me someone sat with me to read the questions which really helped. I have not needed any adjustments at work so far but am sure should I need any they would be put on place.”
Claire - Adviser at Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice
Claire has been volunteering for 1 year.
'I had been tempted to apply for a volunteer role at Citizens Advice for a long time then I decided to go for it. I was a bit worried if I would be accepted because I have Cerebral Palsy. I was delighted to find out that this was no problem at all.
I was surprised at the different ways that clients can access advice. I originally thought it was just telephone advice. I was so happy that I could be an adviser and give advice via email.
As an adviser, I work remotely and give clients advice on their issues on the email channel.
I have been with Citizen's Advice for one year now and enjoyed every minute! The thing I enjoy most about my role is knowing that I am helping someone when I give advice.
Volunteering has made a huge difference to me. I really enjoy the routine of volunteering and I am more happy, confident and it has really helped me with my reading abilities."
To anyone thinking of volunteering at Citizens Advice Claire says:
"I would say go for it and give it a go! The training was enjoyable, and I learnt a lot about many interesting topics like employment, housing, benefits and loads more. The support you get here is great too. There is always someone to go to if you have any questions or need help with the advice you are giving."
Stuart - Witness Service volunteer at Nottingham Crown Court
Stuart started volunteering in September 2013, prior to Citizens Advice taking responsibility for the Service in 2015. Stuart is also involved with the Nottingham group of the MS Society and acts as a volunteer patient for the NHS. He shared his story as part of Volunteers' Week 2022.
“I began volunteering with the Witness Service after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was working as a trainee accountant and was unable to return to the role due to the physical limitations caused by the condition. I had just turned 29 so I decided to look into volunteering opportunities. Someone who had volunteered for the Witness Service suggested it to me as an option. It sounded like an interesting role so I decided to give it a try. Nearly 9 years later I’m still there!
I am a Witness Service volunteer at Nottingham Crown Court and occasionally at the Magistrates Court too. My role is to support victims and witnesses when they come to court to give evidence. This includes explaining what to expect and to answer any other questions or concerns they may have around being at court. We are there to help them give their best evidence and support them through what can be a very traumatic experience.
The role is court based but occasionally we will speak to people over the phone to talk about court processes if they are unable to attend a pre-trial visit in person.
I enjoy feeling like I still have a purpose. Volunteering has helped me to have a reason to carry on.
Volunteering gives me a sense of achievement to be able to help people through what can be an extremely difficult and upsetting time.
When someone has given their evidence and thanks you for the support you’ve provided, it really gives you a sense of doing something good.”