"Volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau was a life changing experience for me. I was a single Mum who had not been in the working environment for sometime, I had no career path, my confidence in my abilities was very low and there was nothing of any use from the last eight years of my life to put on my CV.
After approaching the bureau as a client and seeing an advertisement for helpers, I ended up applying to be a volunteer receptionist at the CAB. At my interview I was encouraged to apply for the role of adviser and I have not looked back since. I gained my CAB certificate in generalist advice and this passported me onto a law course at college. I worked my way up at the Bureau and am now employed by them full-time. I have since completed a law qualification.
I love my work and now feel valuable and able to contribute something really worthwhile to society. The atmosphere at the bureau is unique as everyone is there because they love the work and want to help clients. It is wonderful to be part of such an amazing and diverse team of people."
"Having recently graduated from University, I was finding it difficult to get into paid work due to a lack of employment experience. But I found that volunteering at Arun and Chichester CAB to be really positive, giving me lots of transferable skills that ultimately led me to being able to secure a full time job.
Not only did I acquire these skills, I found my time at the CAB led to a much greater understanding of issues that face some members of society, allowing me to develop personally as well as professionally.
The support for volunteers is fantastic and I was offered extensive training and always felt comfortable in the bureau, which is staffed with excellent people. I have received feedback from employers who have been impressed to see my time at the CAB on my CV, and it has enabled me to stand out from the crowd in a very competitive job market. I would highly recommend volunteering."
"I took voluntary redundancy from my role in financial services after 11 long years. I had spent 5 years in a managerial role that meant I travelled from one end of the country to the other on a regular basis. I was burnt out and unsure of what I really wanted to do. I was lucky enough to be able to finance a year out to consider my options.
I started volunteering at the CAB and my six week training programme was delivered professionally and the training material was excellent, but my goodness, what a lot to learn! The training was delivered to a group of new volunteers, which meant we were able to talk about our nervousness at having so much to learn. I knew nothing about the benefit system or who was eligible for what, nothing about consumer rights or how to approach debt issues. I sometimes felt out of my depth, but we were constantly reassured that a supervisor would always be on hand to coach and offer support and that we were not expected to know everything.
I observed some sessions with more experienced volunteers and saw for myself how it all worked – that was very heartening. It was with some trepidation that I saw my first client on my own, and after that I never looked back. I decided to volunteer for two full days a week, and I found that whilst it was tiring, the satisfaction that I derived from being able to help people was so motivational.
During the year that I volunteered my view of the world shifted quite significantly. I realised the importance of finding work that enabled me to empower people, to problem solve and to make a difference. I applied for a job with my local council; a job that was nothing like any other paid work I had done in the past. I was lucky enough to be offered that job and I am sure that my experience with the CAB was a significant factor in that. I demonstrated an understanding of issues relating to housing, benefits and debt and that I was to communicate with a very wide range of people. The only downside to my new role is that it is full time and I have had to stop volunteering for the CAB.
I would strongly recommend volunteering for the CAB to anybody. The training and support you are given is first class and will open other doors for you if that is what you are looking for. But the most important thing, is knowing that every time you see a client, you will have made life a little easier for them."