Volunteer

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Getting involved

Around 19,000 people volunteer across the national Citizens Advice network. Our volunteers are invaluable, without them we wouldn’t be able to help people find a way forward with the problems they face or campaign about unfair policies and practices.

There are lots of different ways to get involved, including:

  • working directly with our clients to give information, advice and support
  • providing the admin. and back office support that keeps our services running
  • helping us with fundraising, media and campaigning
  • helping guide and govern how we work by becoming a trustee.

What will you get out of it?

Our volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and volunteer with us for different reasons. Our volunteer roles are varied, challenging and rewarding, giving you the chance to:

  • make a real difference to people’s lives and have a positive impact on your community
  • learn about a range of issues that affect our clients
  • build on valuable skills such as communication and problem solving
  • meet new people from different backgrounds.

Volunteering can be a great way to increase your employability and we give references for volunteers who complete our training.

We also reimburse out of pocket expenses, including up to £9 a day for travel, and volunteering shouldn’t affect any state benefits you get.

What our volunteers say about us

What we look for

We need people who have a desire to help others and who can make a regular commitment to volunteering. You don’t need specific qualifications or experience but you’ll need to:

  • be friendly and approachable
  • be non-judgmental and respect views, values and cultures that are different to your own
  • have good listening skills
  • have good verbal and written communication skills
  • be comfortable using or learning computer systems
  • be willing to learn about and follow our aims, principles and policies
  • be able to work effectively as part of a team
  • be willing to undertake training to help you with your role.

We particularly welcome applications from Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME), disabled, LGBT+ and non-binary people as these groups are under-represented in our team.

Our roles

Initial Checkers work out of our advice centres in Battersea and Roehampton. They’re often the first person a client speaks to when they visit us without an appointment, and with our reception team are the face of the organisation. This is a flexible role that suits volunteers who want to help people in-person without committing the time needed to be an assessor or adviser.

What will you do?

  • complete an introduction to Citizens Advice and training for your role
  • meet and greet clients who visit our centres and explain the services we provide
  • explore what problems they’ve come for help with and identify the right level of support for them
  • help clients understand information from our national website or other sources
  • help clients make phone calls or to access local services
  • identify emergencies or urgent issues and discuss these with our managers
  • write a summary of the clients’ problems and what action you’ve taken
  • look out for problems’ that are common, or are unfair, and help us take action to address these through campaigning.

Some examples of what you could do:

  • find information online about applying for a benefit and show a client how they can do this for themselves
  • signpost a client to a local or national organisation that offers specialised support about their issue
  • book an appointment or call back if a client needs in-depth support from one of our advisers
  • help a client refer themselves to a local mental health organisation.

Assessors are usually the first person a client speaks to when they call our Adviceline or contact us through our website. They talk to clients about their issue in detail and explain how they can resolve it. This role is where most of our volunteers start and is a great way to build up the skills and knowledge needed to be an adviser. Our assessors currently train in our offices and then tend to work remotely as the role allows for flexible home working.

What will you do?

  • complete an introduction to Citizens Advice and training for your role
  • talk to clients to explore what problems they’ve come to us for help with
  • find information about the clients’ problems and help them to understand their options
  • write a summary of the clients’ problems and what action you’ve taken
  • look out for problems’ that are common, or are unfair, and help us take action to address these through campaigning.

Some examples of what you could do: 

  • find information online that explains how to apply for Housing Benefit and explain it to them
  • identify what steps a client can take to resolve a problem at work
  • help a client find and understand what steps they can take to deal with rent arrears.

Advisers help clients with issues that need in-depth help to resolve. They tend to be experienced volunteers who work closely with our managers and paid advisers to support more vulnerable clients who have difficulty acting alone. Volunteering as an adviser is ideal for anyone who can make a long-term commitment to volunteering. This role allows for flexible home working for fully trained volunteers.

What will you do?

  • complete an introduction to Citizens Advice and training for your role
  • talk to clients over the phone, face to face, or by email to explore what problems they’ve come for help with
  • find information about the clients’ problems and help them to understand their options
  • support clients to take action to resolve their problems. This might include drafting or writing letters, making calls, or referring the client to another organisation
  • write a summary of the clients’ problems and what action you’ve taken
  • look out for problems’ that are common, or are unfair, and help us take action to address these through campaigning.

Some examples of what you could do: 

  • explore what benefits a client is entitled to and help them apply for them
  • help a client appeal a decision about whether they’re entitled to disability benefits
  • help a client talk to their employer about problems at work such as discrimination, bullying or unfair deductions from wages
  • help a client who has problems with their landlord to understand their housing rights.

If you’re training to be a solicitor, you may be able to get up to six months reduced from your training contract if you volunteer in an advice giving role. Check the Solicitors Regulation Authority website for more information.

This role specialises in helping clients complete application forms for welfare benefits, which is one of the most common issues that people come to us for help with. It takes less time to train for this role and might suit you if you have limited time to commit but want to work with people in a way that makes an impact.

What will you do?

  • complete an introduction to Citizens Advice and training for your role
  • complete paper and online forms with clients
  • help clients understand the rules about applying for benefits
  • check for other issues that the client needs help with
  • write a summary of the clients’ problems and what action you’ve taken
  • look out for problems’ that are common, or are unfair, and help us take action to address these through campaigning.

Some examples of what you could do: 

  • talk to a client about their disability and how it affects them so you can help them explain this on a form
  • help a client complete an application for disability benefits
  • explain how the application process works and advise them about their right to challenge decisions
  • signpost or refer a client for help with another issue you’ve identified.

 

Admin. volunteers provide essential support to the rest of our team. This is a flexible role that can involve working with our reception team, back-office administration or a combination of both.

What will you do?

  • complete an introduction to Citizens Advice and training for your role
  • welcome clients and other visitors
  • help with the day to day running of our offices
  • answer the telephone, reply to emails and post
  • type up letters and read through documents checking for mistakes
  • print and scan documents
  • update spreadsheets and databases
  • help with general office management.

Some examples of what you could do: 

  • be the first point of contact for clients and the face of the organisation
  • operate our reception areas and meet and greet visitors
  • general admin tasks such as post and filing
  • survey clients that have used our projects
  • provide clients with information where appropriate
  • find, interpret and communicate relevant advice and information.

Research & Campaigns volunteers help us raise awareness about common or unfair problems that our clients experience. We’re currently looking for someone to research, write and publicise a report about the long-term impact of the pandemic on our clients and services, following on from our previous reports about the pandemic.

What will you do?

  • work directly with our Chief Executive to agree the ambition and remit of the project and keep her updated as the work develops
  • talk to our staff and volunteers and build an understanding of what we do
  • develop a project plan and involve colleagues in delivering it
  • look at our data and help us understand trends and themes
  • produce cases studies that connect to wider policy concerns
  • work with clients to help them tell their story through cases studies and interviews
  • draft a report that tells the story of the pandemic in an accessible, impactful way
  • ideally, help us publicise the report by giving presentations, using social media and talking to journalists.

You can email volunteering@cawandsworth.org if you’d like to speak to our Chief Executive to discuss this role, how it might work for you and the support we can provide.

Our trustees are volunteers who use their skills, knowledge and experience to guide and govern what we do, working with our Chief Executive and other staff to shape strategy, give direction and provide oversight of operational delivery. Read more about our current board members and see if we’re recruiting new trustees.

If you’re not sure whether working directly with the public is for you or if you have other skills and experience that you think we might benefit from, we welcome applications from people with an interest in:

  • volunteer training and support
  • campaigning
  • fundraising
  • digital media, marketing and promotion.

We’re happy to discuss combining any of these activities with our other roles or creating a freestanding role for volunteers with prior experience.

Time commitment

We ask volunteer assessors and advisers to commit to two days a week for at least 12 months due to the time it takes to train for these roles. Our other roles let you volunteer for less time and still make a difference.

We know that volunteering is a significant commitment. We’re happy to discuss being flexible if you have less time but think you can still support our services.

How to apply

You can complete the form below to apply. We aim to get back to you within 2 weeks but it usually takes less time than this. You can also email us at volunteering@cawandsworth.org if you have any questions before you apply.

Volunteering
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