Volunteers needed to offer advice

19/2/09- The Citizens Advice Bureau at Hastings Tesco.
Photo by Steve Hunnisett
19/2/09- The Citizens Advice Bureau at Hastings Tesco. Photo by Steve Hunnisett

Citizens Advice 1066 has launched an appeal to find more volunteers in order to continue to provide the important free services it offers.

Citizens Advice 1066, based in St Leonards, assists annually approaching 7% of the adult population of Hastings and Rother.

It also helps a substantial number of others across East Sussex through its Telephone Advice Service, Adviceline, and Web chat facility. In addition, its Money Advice Unit helped clients with over £5m of debt just last year alone.

The queries people bring to the bureau are many and very varied, but most often centre around housing, debt, benefits and employment issues, as well as a huge range of general consumer problems.

Although there is a considerable amount of relevant material available on the Citizens Advice web site (www.citizensadvice.org.uk), there is still a demand from clients who prefer to speak to a ‘real person’ about their situation.

The ever-increasing pressure on people of all backgrounds and circumstances has created a continuing demand for volunteers to work with clients to try to help them deal with their issues.

Citizens Advice 1066 is a charitable organisation staffed very largely by volunteers, but is beginning to experience a shortage, which even in the medium term may reduce the essential free service it can offer.

It is therefore initiating a campaign to try to attract more potential volunteers. Volunteers come from a broad range of backgrounds: they don’t need to have any specific qualifications or experience as full training is provided (which is equivalent to NVQ Level 2/3).

Volunteer Katharine, a Mum keen to return to work and looking to gain some experience transferable into the remunerated work place said: “It is not always easy for women like me to go back to work after taking time out to care for children, particularly when you also want something that is both interesting and enriching.

“However, volunteering with Citizens Advice here has provided me with a stimulating environment to work in, extensive training opportunities and a vast array of skills that I can use both now and in the future”.

Mike, now retired, said: “I have been asked why volunteer to train as an Assessor. In my view there are numerous reasons to work for the charity, Citizens Advice, which has a proud history of 76 years of independent service to the community.

“If you join us, as I have found, you will join a friendly supportive team and supervisory structure. You will get a training programme backed up by regularly up- dated first- class national databases and websites.”

Tricia, a single Mum said: “Since joining Citizens Advice, my confidence has grown a great deal and as well as gaining work-place skills I have also gained valuable people skills.”

Citizens Advice has a good record of providing transferable skills and experience. In the last couple of years, some 18 volunteers have gone on to get paid employment.

The team based in London Road, St Leonards’ bureau is friendly and supportive with a strong commitment to helping its clients as well as helping each other be better at what they do.

There is regular training and up- dates. Each month there are presentations from local community groups with whom the bureau works frequently, which helps volunteers better understand what is on offer for their clients.

So, if anyone is interested in having a chat to find out what is involved, they should contact Mike on 01424 452703 or email recruitment@citizensadvice1066.co.uk for more information.

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