Clients can be totally confident we will never judge them. Karen Baird.
“The aim of all our client contacts is to help the person move forward with confidence. Mutual trust is essential.”
Things you may have missed about us – Number 2. (3 minutes)
Karen Baird is Advice Services Manager at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell.
Whoever you are, whatever your problem
Our promise is to give independent, impartial advice free of charge to anyone who asks. In one way we’re like GPs in the NHS. You can ask your GP about any medical problem and you can ask your local Citizens Advice about any of life’s other problems (even health-related ones!).
In another way however we’re different from GPs because many of our advisers are also specialists.
Training and working with people
We tailor training to each Adviser’s role. Being able to work with people and understand their situations is essential. Clients know their adviser will not judge them and their advice will always be confidential.
New colleagues spend several months learning our values, how the office works and the skills they will need. There is one-to-one training but they soon find everyone is happy to help when they begin ‘learning by doing’.
They can follow a number of different pathways from experience of drop-in sessions and telephone advice to more detailed preparation for giving full advice. Advisers and support staff are always ready to help. Everyone in the team must keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date through regular briefings, training sessions and online-learning.
What clients can expect
Good listening and non-judgmental conversation about anything at all. And total confidentiality.
Options, outcomes, decisions
Our advisers will research your options and together you look at possible outcomes of different actions. Advisers won’t tell you what to do but help you make your own decisions. They advise on your individual needs and make sure you have the right information.
Facts and using them
Many of life’s problems are complicated. For example, it can be hard to understand government information or how to apply for support. We help you get the important facts and sort the wood from the trees. We can also help with writing an email letter or completing an online application.
Most Citizens Advice clients say they feel happier and more confident about dealing with their problems. Our general and specialist advice helps them find their way forward. In a small number of cases where the client would benefit from more specialist support (legal advice for example) we can refer them to trusted colleagues in a range of local specialist organisations.
Our help is ongoing
Our clients can be confident we will help for as long as it takes to make progress. There can be phone calls or meetings over weeks or months. In one case in 2021 our adviser’s determination led to the tax authority writing off a £7000 claim for overpayment after a whole year!
Part of ‘Who Knew?’ a blog series about less well-known aspects of Citizens Advice. Find out more.