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Thinking about volunteering? 10 questions you might want to ask

Jane Sheils

At CAEE we depend on dedicated local people who care about their community. Their time, skills and experience are our strength. I hope my answers to these questions are helpful and encourage you to apply.  
Jane Sheils is Volunteer Publicity Adviser at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell

1) How much time do I need to commit?

You need to commit to at least one day a week. We can be flexible depending on circumstances, and of course there’s no problem in taking holidays.

2) What kind of opportunities are there?

The roles we have on offer are varied from office reception, admin, website, communications, to assessor, adviser and trustees.

Volunteering at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell
More information and how to apply

3) Will I get training?

Yes! How much depends on the role. It takes approximately a year to train as an adviser but as an assessor, it is about 9 months.

4) Can I progress?

Absolutely. You can start as an assessor where you are the client’s first point of contact. You could then work to become a Generalist adviser and able to deal with most problems; or a specialist adviser dealing with particular subjects such as debt or employment. After that you could become a supervisor with extensive knowledge supporting advisers and assessors. All our volunteers say they learn new things every day.

5 Is there any age limit?

From 16 to any age, no limits! We have several volunteers who going strong in their 80s.

6) Will I be out of pocket?

We pay your volunteering travel expenses and parking, as well as training costs. Volunteering will not normally affect any benefits you may be claiming.

7) Do I need special skills?

Computer skills are helpful as you will be recording meetings and actions on our computer system and you need to be comfortable talking on the phone. Apart from that, a desire to help others and a friendly approach is paramount.

8) Would I be working alone or part of a team?

You would very much be working as part of a team. You will progress to looking after clients on your own but always with the support of your colleagues. We encourage volunteers to work in our Epsom office; they can learn from each other and support each other especially when training. However, we do also offer hybrid working arrangements. You will also be invited to monthly team meetings, training sessions and social gatherings as in any office environment.

9) What if I can’t deal with a query from the client?

This work is very much teamwork. If you can’t help the client, someone else in the office will help or know where to direct the client. None of our volunteers is left alone to solve difficult problems.

10) Anything else I should know?

There’s tea and coffee on tap and great biscuits for volunteers. We all enjoy the work and each other’s company.

We would love to hear from you.
More information and how to apply

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