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Volunteer With Us

Apr 28, 2021 | Volunteering

Here are some of our Volunteers Experiences with Citizens Advice East Devon, we hope they spark an interest! If you would like to Volunteer with us then please visit our Volunteering page or get in touch

Gillians Experience

When I retired I wanted to give something back to society as well as using my brain and the skills I had acquired in my professional career. Two years after joining Citizens Advice my only regret is that I did not join earlier. I am constantly learning. There is a thorough initial training and then lots of opportunities to acquire specialist knowledge – through formal courses, online learning and research for individual cases. We are well supported by an excellent national information system and can always call on a supervisor for guidance. As an Initial Advisor, my cases are extremely varied. They can range from the relatively trivial ( e.g. problems with a neighbour’s cats) to the complex and heart-rending (e.g. disability, relationship breakdown, indebtedness). Whatever the problem, there is a great sense of satisfaction in knowing one has helped someone.

 

Martins Experience

When I started – admittedly a long time ago, my intention was to do some charity work to help people.  I hope I have been successful in this. What I did not realise was how much fun it would be, how much I would enjoy it, and how much I would learn about facts, people and life in general.

I love the challenge of not knowing what subject/client I am getting next.  I love the satisfaction of successfully challenging the Jobsworth Establishment and getting them to rethink (for my client). My advice to these institutions remains the same (acting for my clients). 

Put simply   “Don’t send the first salvo unless rigged for incoming fire.”

Let’s not forget the Team – my colleagues for whom I have profound respect and not a little liking. I have learnt so much from them (and in pre Covid times, continued to do so).  We provide mutual support – especially important when you get a case that is upsetting.

It also helps if you like a glass of wine . . . . .

As an additional bonus I meet such a wide variety of people.  People that I would never meet or relate to in my normal (cloistered?) life.  As far as I am concerned, this has widened my horizons and added to Life’s Rich Pattern.

That’s why I’m like the proverbial bad penny – always turning up.

 

Ruths Experience

I’ve been a volunteer at Citizens Advice for over 10 years. What started as a half-day session, once a week on the Reception desk in Exmouth many moons ago has morphed through 3 offices and into remote working on the Allocations/Admin Team several days a week. In the past couple of years, working at Citizens Advice East Devon has involved much greater use of (and dependence on) technology. This has meant a steep learning curve for the older ones among us, but I like to think that with the help of other team members, we have all increased our skills and are coping quite well.

 

Good things:

  • Doing something to support the worthwhile ‘operation’ that is Citizens Advice, which helps so many people with all manner of problems and questions. This has to be the main motivation for most people.
  • Meeting a really nice bunch of people who are all keen to do something to help their community
  • Learning new things – this is an ongoing part of every aspect of the work – especially in the ‘tech’ sense now we are all working online
  • Being part of an evolving process as Citizens Advice East Devon expands its horizons
  • It is always nice to be needed!

 

Not so good things:

  • Because the ‘job’ is no longer ‘face to face’ it is much harder to enjoy the social aspect of working as a team and all that entails. Chatting in the kitchen has had to be replaced by emails and online volunteer meetings – not quite the same. We are all looking forward to that changing in the near future.
  • As a part-time volunteer, it can be easy to feel that things are moving along and you are no longer ‘in the loop’
  • In this most extraordinary of years, the need for our services has understandably increased. Sometimes it seems like we are on a treadmill with no ‘slow periods’ to catch up on background tasks.
  • BUT – still nice to be needed!

 

Phil’s Experience

My name is Phil and I am what we call a Generalist Adviser, which means I attempt to deal with whatever issue a client seeks help with. This often includes Benefits, Debt, Relationship Issues, Employment and many more issues, often very much interlinked. I have been a volunteer adviser for 17 years both here in Devon and in the South East and it’s something that I really enjoy doing. 

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It’s certainly been very different since the Lockdown began. Instead of meeting people face to face in our offices, we have from day one of the lockdown being working from home. Nevertheless still working together as a very well-coordinated team, supporting each other, linked together with excellent technology. I very much miss meeting clients face to face but I trust that we make clients comfortable with a friendly and understanding voice. The upside is that we are able now to deal with many more clients than we could have imagined before. 

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Yes, there is quite a bit to learn as an Adviser (there are other roles too). But it’s a progressive process, with good training, an excellent information system and support from of our specialist colleagues. It’s very satisfying to be able to resolve people’s problems. For those initially nervous about seeking help, we give them the vehicle to achieve a resolution.

Job satisfaction, yes to the full.

 

Come and find out what it’s like to work with us!

You can also find information on our National Page

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