Volunteering variety at Citizens Advice – Jane’s starter for 10.
Volunteering variety is guaranteed at Citizens Advice. Every volunteer comes to us with different skills and we have an amazingly wide range of roles. Here is my starter for 10 plus double bonus!
Jane Sheils is Volunteer Publicity Adviser at Citizens Advice Epsom & Ewell. (5 minutes)
If you’re thinking about volunteering in 2024, we would love to hear from you. You don’t need any special background or experience but should be able to commit at least one day each week.
You might train to be an Adviser and eventually specialise in a particular issue such as Energy Support. Equally you could use your skills in admin and support, communications, fundraising or research and campaigns.
Which of the following would you find most interesting? We don’t have vacancies for all of them at the moment but it’s definitely worth registering your interest.
This is the frontline role helping people looking for information and advice. Our initial interviews help us quickly assess clients’ issues and progress them to the most appropriate next stage. That might be self-help information, a basic benefit check or an appointment with a specialist adviser. Interviews may be face-to-face or by telephone.
When there’s no clear way forward we offer the client an Adviser appointment. The Adviser works with the client to research and explore options so s/he can make informed decisions. Advisers also offer practical support and can act for their clients. For example, they might contact statutory bodies or service providers, draft or write letters or telephone on client’s behalf. Trained volunteer and staff advisers are the foundation of the Citizens Advice service.
3. Advice support volunteer
In this key new role you will help clients apply for benefits or grants when they have to complete online or paper forms. With benefits such as Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance or charity applications for financial support or equipment advice experience will be an advantage.
Supervisors support assessors and advisers and manage workload on the day. They discuss queries and check the advice assessors and advisers in training give to clients. This is a key role to ensure clients are getting the right advice at the point of contact.
5. Digital Support Adviser
Digital Support Advisers work with clients who have no access to a computer or lack the skills or confidence to use one. They help clients to complete forms online or occasionally on paper. This can be over the phone or face to face. Examples include: help applying online for Council Tax Income Discount or a Blue Badge; explaining how to pay a bill online; helping switch energy provider. Read what our colleague Alison wrote about her work.
6. Energy Support Adviser
Energy advisers can their clients with specific energy and more general advice. They help with energy supplier services such as using a smart meter, the priority service register or customer support fund. Equally a wider benefit check might be relevant useful with the aim of clearing energy debt. For more detail read Yandi’s energy blog.
This key role helps ensure the smooth running and organisation of the office. The receptionist is the first point of contact for our clients. They greet clients and other visitors; monitor CCTV in the waiting room; manage our reception area liaising between clients and advisers; help with admin tasks.
8. Admin Support
Read Jane’s earlier Starters for 10
Why join our volunteer team? Jane’s new starter for 10!
Thinking about volunteering? 10 questions you might want to ask
Our support volunteers provide the help all efficient offices rely on. They support supervisors and advisers by: contacting clients; writing emails and or letters; looking after online and physical files; creating forms and posters; ordering and organising distribution of leaflets; ordering stationery and other items.
Our busy publicity & fundraising team promotes the services CAEE offers to the local community. Team members do many different things including: write newsletters and articles; help organise events; manage social media accounts; design, update and disseminate publicity materials; distribute flyers, leaflets and posters in around the local area.
CAEE is an independent charity. We are supported by the local council and others but must raise additional funds to provide services free of charge to the public. We have an exciting fundraising programme coming up in 2024-25 and a volunteer team with the energy and enthusiasm to deliver it. Our activities are many and varied including: running a stall at summer fetes; helping organise a quiz; taking part in sponsored walks or bucket collections.
Bonus 1. Research and campaigns
Our work with clients gives us a wealth of real time evidence about local problems. This helps us spot harmful policies or practice and help organisations improve. R&C volunteers also support campaigns to influence local and national policymakers. You may monitor economic and social policy; write campaign news posts to inform and influence; carry out surveys of clients or the public. More about current CAEE campaigns.
Bonus 2. Trustee
Our Trustees are all community volunteers with considerable skills, knowledge and experience. They work with the CEO and staff to guide, govern and shape strategy. They make sure CAEE does what it was set-up to do: offer high quality advice services; comply with the law; secure resources to meet current and new demands; use funds responsibly; and be recognised by local organisations, funders and residents who understand and value the importance of local Citizens Advice. Read what our trustee Sean wrote about his role last year.