Column: Search is on for volunteers to help at Grantham’s Citizens Advice
Citizens Advice in South Lincolnshire are looking for new volunteers able to commit to six hours per week, to train for a variety of roles, from reception, through assessors and advisors to research and campaigns co-ordinators, in the office at Grantham, and nearby outreaches.
Clients seeking help from Citizens Advice are now able to use the telephone route, or email and webchat, in addition to the traditional face to face interviews, which has made the role of the volunteer more varied than ever, while the enquiries themselves are becoming more complex, ranging from benefits problems, debt advice, housing and employment, to relationship and consumer issues.
In South Lincolnshire last year 13,992 enquiries were dealt with, from 10,573 clients.
“When I joined,” said a current volunteer, “It was to give something back to society, and provide practical help to people who felt trapped by circumstances, not necessarily of their own making. I’ve found that providing this help gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction, especially when a client has been in tears over a situation, but leaves feeling that other people have made a difference, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I also like to think it keeps my brain working!”
A brand new flexible training programme allows each new volunteer to choose the route that suits them best, from a fast track programme lasting for eight training weeks, through to an option that spreads out the training over a year. Options for evening training and modules in university holidays are also available.
New applications are being accepted from October onwards, and training starts in January 2017. Before that time, assessment days will be held along with peer group interviews, to guide volunteers towards the role best suited for them, and check the extent to which they are a people person.
“At the end of the day, this is the most important strength we are looking for,“ said training manager Megan Millar. “We have also devised a programme for new applicants to shadow existing volunteers between applications and the start of training, to give all new volunteers a taste of the work from day one. After training has started, the shadowing will continue, to let everyone find out the roles that suit best their own skills and experience. “
Anyone who is interested in helping other people with their problems, should contact Megan on firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on all roles is available at www.citizensadvicesouthlincs.org.uk