Welcoming disabled volunteers
Citizens Advice and Witness Service welcome disabled volunteers and volunteers with physical and mental health conditions.
Read about the experiences of some local Citizens Advice volunteers below:
“I really love this role as I get to interact with the staff and the clients who are all really nice”.
David is an admin assistant at Citizens Advice County Durham, Consett office. He 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.”
“Volunteering has giving me a lot of confidence and has allowed me to feel like part of a team. It has also allowed me to become more sociable and gives me a day to dress up, go out to work and then have lunch in town”.
Virginia has been a volunteer at Citizens Advice Teignbridge (Newton Abbot) for around three years and currently works on Social Policy.
“I initially trained as an advisor but wanted a role that was a bit different. I tried out a few others and then found my dream role in social policy. I should have known it would be perfect for me as I have a degree in social policy.
I am living with MS so my day to day ability to do things varies. I have help to get ready each morning and evening and have a driver who takes me where I need to go. I started volunteering about three years ago. I was really conscious that people would think I was in the way as I use a wheelchair. I needn't of thought that as most times people I work with don't even notice it.
My colleagues are really nice and understand that sometimes I am not well enough to come in.
I really love what I do and find it extremely rewarding. I check all the AIC codes to ensure they are coded correctly, this is really important as the AICs enable us to show funders we are using their money correctly. They are also important when trying to get funding, as they show the issues we help people with and enable us to target the correct funders.
If you have been thinking about volunteering but haven't started yet I’d say just bite the bullet. If you have the time and inclination it’s really good to do”.
“Volunteering is really enjoyable for me, I’ve gained lots of understanding about issues that affect clients, I’ve become more sociable and I feel like I am doing something truly worthwhile helping to fill a role that’s really needed.”
"I’ve been a volunteer at Newcastle Citizens Advice for 12 years and provide advice to clients via email two afternoons a week.
I’ve never been in paid work due to my disability. I have cerebral palsy so I’m unable to walk, talk clearly and use my hands properly. I also have possible Multiple Sclerosis so I get tired very quickly.
For me my disability hasn't hindered me becoming a volunteer. I love the fact that I am able to do much more than just inputting [that I’ve done in previous volunteer roles]. Because of how the service is set up I am able to give advice via email which is really interesting. Email advice is good for me as it’s not live advice so I do not have to be a speed typer. I can take a bit more time sending over the advice to clients.
I have only needed a small adjustment to help me work, which was a keyboard. I have not found any difficulties volunteering. The staff are really supportive and kind which makes working with them so nice.
If you are considering volunteering, I would say find something you’re interested in go to you local Citizens Advice to see how you can get involved.”
Our commitment to Equality and Diversity
As part of our Citizens Advice service-wide commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, we promote equality and value diversity as an employer and volunteer involving organisation. Below are a few key points to explain what this means:
- We have a diverse workforce, where volunteers are encouraged, supported and valued and this is essential to ensure our service lives its values of challenging discrimination and promoting equality and valuing diversity.
- As a service, we believe that people are disabled by the barriers that society places in the way rather than by their own health conditions or impairments.
- Detailed guidance is available for local Citizens Advice and Witness Service staff around delivering inclusive volunteering, including how to recruit and support volunteers as well as equality and diversity training, undertaking accessibility audits of premises, policies and procedures, and where to improve knowledge around particular health conditions. Our guidance follows the principles within our equality and diversity policy.
- Our recruitment process encourages inclusive volunteering which focuses on finding a match between the volunteer roles available, and the applicant's skills, qualities and interests.
What you can expect from Citizens Advice
- You can expect a welcoming and inclusive environment that is free from discrimination.
- You can expect Citizens Advice to strive to provide the support and equipment you may need to enable you to use the application process, undertake your voluntary role, and undertake any relevant training.
- Supervisors and managers in local Citizens Advice and Witness Service work with volunteers to ensure that their individual needs are met, and with support from national Citizens Advice teams where appropriate.
- The computer systems we use have high levels of access, such as compatibility with screen readers. They can be used, as they are, by many disabled volunteers.
- If further support or equipment is needed to enable disabled volunteers or volunteers with mental or physical health conditions to undertake their role, the Citizens Advice ICT Service Desk has specially trained Technical Support Analysts who can provide support and advice.
Citizens Advice has four Network Groups:
BAME Network Group
Disability Network Group
National Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Group
Trans and Non-Binary Network Group
The role of the network groups is to:
provide a safe place for members of their communities
advocate on behalf of their members
act as a critical friend to the wider organisation
raise awareness and increase visibility
Network groups work together to ensure the intersecting needs of people are taken into consideration.
The Disability Network group is open to staff and volunteers in local and national Citizens Advice who are disabled or have a long term health condition, as well as allies.
For information about joining the Disability Network group contact: email@example.com
Your next step?
To find out more about volunteering with us and to apply search for volunteering opportunities near you!