Volunteer Adviser Opportunities
Being a volunteer adviser is hugely rewarding with a variety of issues and people that you deal with, there is never a dull moment. You make a difference to peoples’ lives every time you come to the office.
To get to that point, we need to put you through rigorous training which takes up to 6 months. The training is of A Level standard, and is a combination of e-learning and shadowing experienced advisers. You will be supported throughout your journey to being a fully fledged general adviser.
Because of the in depth training required we ask advisers to plan to remain with us for a minimum term of 12 months following completion of training. The expectation is that you would attend two 4 hour sessions per week, this is a week day morning or afternoon.
What do volunteer advisers do?
- Interviewing – You will learn interviewing techniques, how to listen, and then talk to clients and ask questions to make the issues clear.
- Giving information – Training will enable you to access information from our computer systems and reference books.
- Giving advice – Your job is to give the client all the courses of action available to them so they can decide what to do
- Giving practical help – Completing forms, making telephone calls, writing letters. You will also be trained in calculating benefits, tax and debts.
- Case recording – You will be shown how to record your interviews to enable another advice worker to carry on further work for a client should they return for more help.
- Research and Campaign – Identify issues where clients have been unfairly treated.
What we ask from a volunteer adviser
- A commitment to our principles of independence, impartiality, free and confidentiality
- A willingness to undertake a comprehensive training programme
- A willingness to keep up to date with new information and skills
- An ability to volunteer for about 8-10 hours each week
What do volunteer advisers gain?
- Rewarding and stimulating work that is so varied it can never be boring
- The opportunity to update skills and learn new ones
- A comprehensive training programme is provided for all advisers which will be tailored to individual needs
- Job specific IT training
- Help for those wishing to re-enter the job market by :
- providing experience in a caring supportive environment
- a reference for future employers
What do our volunteer advisers say?
“Why Would You?
“Oh, I couldn’t take all the misery and depression. How can you go home and forget about it?”
Well, to start with – it isn’t all misery and depression. Sometimes you can confirm that the action someone is taking is the right one and support them in it, or make a quick phone call on their behalf which brings an instant result. Occasionally you can even surprise clients with a benefit or course of action they didn’t know existed and clients can be so grateful for the smallest things. It can give you a huge lift.
When I retired from work four years ago I had small concerns of my own. How would I fill the time? How could I keep my mind active? Could I cope with learning new skills? I thought long and hard about different types of voluntary work and, having heard about the CAB from friends, decided to try that. From the initial interview it was clear that this was something that I could take at my own pace; fit it into my weekly schedule as a routine event or to suit me (yes, you can go on holiday whenever you like); and that I would be supported all the way by the management team, the training schedule and the amazing database of information that the CAB provides.
After six months of training I was ready to go. I was afraid of giving someone the wrong advice or not being able to hide my own prejudices (of course I have them too!), but I needn’t have worried. When you are first in a room with a client, you don’t need to judge or decide, just ask and listen. Before you give advice, you can look up the right things to say and discuss everything with the session supervisor to be sure that the options you suggest (and it’s up to the client to decide what to do) are the best they can be.
Every day and every client is different. Regulations change and there’s always something new, or a different aspect of the same old issues that will surprise you and keep you on your toes. You can choose to go on further training courses to build up your background knowledge and we even had the opportunity recently to sit in on County Court sessions to understand what happens to clients faced with some of the hardest lifetime events they have to go through.
The team at the Leighton Linslade CAB are not all alike. We have men and women from all walks of life: Students, retirees, people ‘between jobs’, different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. You will always find like-minded people that you can ‘wind down’ with after a difficult interview. I genuinely look forward to coming into the bureau.
So, volunteering for me is just as much about getting something for myself as giving to other people. I’m not bored in retirement and I keep learning something new and meeting great people, whether clients or other volunteers. Yes, I do sometimes go home thinking about an unfortunate case during the day but this may result in a fresh idea which can be followed up the next time I’m in the CAB. If there’s a problem caused by something obviously unfair in the system, then you have the opportunity to raise the issue nationally through the CAB and maybe make a bigger difference. Mostly though, you remember the good things. The client that wanted to shake your hand when they left; the client that stopped crying and managed a smile by the end of the interview; the client that never comes back because they don’t have a problem anymore.
“Why wouldn’t you do it “
We also have opportunities for volunteers to assist us with vital fund raising or sometimes there maybe the opportunity to become a Trustee. These roles have more flexibility with regard to time commitment and would be suitable for anyone in full time employment.
How to find out more
If you are interested in joining our friendly team then please contact us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01525 373878.
Please note this is an administration number and we cannot give advice on this line.