Find out more about Volunteering

What's involved?

It depends on the role. If you want to train to be an assessor/adviser you need to have 2 days/week free for the first 6 months and then three half days/week free. We train you first to assess and you will be conducting assessments yourself, initially with someone supporting, within 4 months. Assessing involves interviewing the client to learn all about their problems so you can help them identify the best next step for them to take. This entails finding out what knowledge the person is missing and what their capability is for progressing their chosen course and what they want to achieve.

The help we give may be shallow, signposting to another agency, or deep, complex research, writing letters and making phone calls and very exceptionally responsibility for progressing the resolution of the problem. Most enquiries involve several subject areas. A row at home may need us to consider the implications for housing, finances and employment of the consequent relationship breakdown.

We don’t assume any prior knowledge. We will provide enjoyable, interesting, structured and comprehensive training.

When you’ve been assessing for a few months we resume further learning to support you to develop the skills and knowledge to advise. Advising involves focusing in more depth on one area of the client’s problem to research and help the client evaluate their options and support them to progress towards their desired goal.

The training is part theory and part on-the-job. We start groups of around 10 people usually once per year. The group comes together for 8 weeks or so as a class to consider material that has been shared ahead, discuss the more controversial topics and complete activities. This material takes the form of distance learning packs with reading and exercises for you to complete as preparation for the ‘class’.

What skills do I need?

We need you to

  • Be in agreement with our aims principles and values
  • Respect people’s differences and treat everyone with courtesy and kindness
  • Understand that coming to us and confronting that there is an issue may be the hardest step
  • Like meeting new people and have an open, enquiring mind
  • Be able to focus and pay close attention to the person you are helping
  • Be able to read carefully and digest complex information
  • Be able to explain in simple language information that is complex
  • Be willing to learn and accept constructive feedback
  • Be patient and tolerant with yourself as well as others
  • Be flexible, willing to accommodate the needs of colleagues and of the organisations aims

Why Volunteer?

There are many good things about volunteering.

  • You will get the chance to use your skills, e.g. interviewing , explaining, researching to help others improve their lives. This can be immensely satisfying but also sometimes very frustrating.
  • You will gain knowledge that may be useful in your own life, e.g. how to change your name, get divorced, register a death, claim a welfare benefit, challenge an unfair dismissal at work
  • You will develop skills in finding relevant information, writing case notes, listening actively, summarising, interviewing with sensitivity
  • You will be collaborating with a warm and friendly team and will gain connectedness which we know improves our wellbeing.
  • Research suggests that volunteers live longer and have lower blood pressure
  • Volunteers tell us they value how well-organised the role is and the structure and purpose it gives their lives

I Volunteer because....

Becky

"To keep my skills up –to-date and meet people."

Swarupa

"I like to use my time and skills to help the public, gain valuable experience and socialise…."

Debbie

"I think Citizens Advice provides a really important service. I meet lots of interesting people and I can try to help others."

David

"Of my work + Community experience, I feel I can give something back."

Roger

"I wanted to volunteer for something worthwhile and challenging. CAB is just that!"

lyle

"I like helping people"

tomf1

"I wanted to Help my community and challenge + develop myself!"

We seek to serve all the St Albans community and would particularly welcome applications from our local minority ethnic communities.