Volunteer with us
The work of Citizens Advice East Dorset would not be possible without our volunteers.
If you are interested in using and developing your skills and getting involved with the local community, there are many ways to get involved.
You could train to be a Receptionist, Gateway Assessor or Adviser or if you have IT skills you could help us maintain our computer systems.
Click on the roles below to find out more. If you would like to apply for any of these roles download our application form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can print the form and post it to our office.
Roles for Volunteers
As a receptionist you are the first contact many of our Clients will have with our Service. This role involves providing support at our, office reception and in our administration office. Your responsibilities will encompass all aspects of customer service, administration and information support.
A Gateway Assessor provides information and an initial assessment of a client's problem.The Client may be sign posted to another more specialist service if needed but often they are able to continue to help themselves with initial guidance. If the issue is more complex and requires further advice the assessor will make an appointment for the Client with one of our Advisers.
We have generalist and specialist advisers who research and explore client's problems in more depth. They take referrals from our assessors and spend as much time as necessary setting out options and helping to progress issues for clients.
How Much Time Is Involved?
A minimum of 8 hours per week. This can include follow up work, reading and writing up reports. A single day may be preferred or two separate half days -we try to be as flexible as possible. In addition to duty shifts advisers are expected to attend the monthly staff meetings and continuation training sessions.
What Training Is Provided?
All advisers must complete the national Training Programme common to all Citizens Advice offices. This is a competence-based course and leads to a Certificate in General Advice Work. This involves working through learning packs in your own time under the guidance of the Office Tutor, attending tutorials; observation; supervised interviews; practical exercises; and attending courses run by the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux (NACAB). On an average of 15-20 hours per week, the training takes approximately 6 months.
Further training is provided after the basic course, covering more complex subjects and to keep advisers up to date.
What Subjects Can Advisers Advise On?
- Welfare benefits
- Debt/money problems
- Consumer problems
- Housing problems
- Relationship & family problems
- Employment problems
- Immigration and nationality
- Legal matters
- Disability information
- Health matters
- Filling in forms
When appropriate advisers may be able to:>
- Negotiate on client's behalf
- Write letters
- Represent at Tribunals
Do Advisers Specialise?
As Citizens Advice work has become more complex the requirement for specialisation has increased After gaining experience advisers may develop expertise in particular areas especially where ongoing cases require representation and more detailed knowledge
Such areas include:
- Debt advice
However, whilst there is always a need for specialists, many advisers prefer general work because of the variety it provides, and all advisers are expected initially to handle any case that may arise.
What Qualifications Are Required?
As we provide full training, we do not ask for any formal qualifications or experience, although obviously any specialist knowledge will be put to good use. What we do look for however, are:
- Ability and willingness to work within the aims,principles and equal opportunities of the CAB service
- Good communication skills
- Ability to interact with and respect others
- Openness to new ideas and willingness to learn
Why Do People Volunteer?
We are often asked by clients "Why do you do this work? You aren't paid!". Some of the reasons given by advisers are:
I volunteered for CA work because...."I wanted to do something worthwhile to help others, and develop myself personally and intellectually."
What I like most about coming in is...."The friendship from fellow advisers - the support shown, the exchange of ideas and opinions."
The bit I find hardest is ..... "Practically - debt advice, but the hardest thing is the realisation that we live in such an unfair society."
It's lovely when...."You get a successful result, and when you know the client really appreciates the effort that has been made on their behalf - then it's brilliant."
What it really amounts to is Job satisfaction ..... particularly when your client says "Thank you"