Have you ever considered volunteering? My first major volunteering role came with the Citizens Advice Bureau when I left university. I had messed up my Law Society exams. Even though I had articles offered with a local solicitors’ firm, I had pretty much decided I did not want to do that sort of law.
So on my Dad’s suggestion I found myself at the Citizens Advice Bureau asking if I could help put leaflets out or something. I did not realise then that there are loads of volunteering opportunities available with Citizens Advice. I found myself training as a generalist advice worker. That involved going on training courses in Leeds. working through training packs and shadowing advice staff. I was so looking forward to doing an interview with a client myself but was a bit scared when my first case turned out to be about medical negligence which is hardly the simplest advice topic around.
After that first blip. I found myself coping well and specialising in money advice going onto a part-time paid job and then a full-time one. I guess I am trying to say that volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau is interesting and can lead to great things. Here are a few things you need to know if you are considering volunteering.
You can turn up at your local Bureau like I did but these days you can fill out an online enquiry form and then the Bureau will get in touch. You might be invited for a chat or to an open day followed by you completing an application form and having an interview.
You will be given a full induction and training for your role. The training is free of charge and of a good quality. It is respected by so many different employers and educational establishments too so well worth undertaking. You will be supported by a tutor in the Bureau, self-study packs and a course away from the Bureau.
There is no minimum time requirement as such and it is really about what you can offer and what the Bureau needs. Most Bureaux advice sessions take place during office hours but even if you work full-time you could get involved in fundraising, marketing or other roles.
Your out-of-pocket expenses are covered by the Bureau. Bear in mind some Bureaux are unable to provide childcare or other carer expenses.
I am a big fan of volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau. I feel it can help you develop skills and qualities early in life that can last you a lifetime. It looks really good on a Curriculum Vitae if you are job-seeking whatever age you are. Many retired people find it helps them make friends and utilises their existing skills. It’s also a great way to meet people on moving to a new town or city.
You can find out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice really easily.