Volunteer

Chelmsford Citizens Advice Bureau is always keen to hear from volunteers who are willing to help deliver our services. If you can give some time to assist us with any of the following roles please register your interest here: Volunteer for Chelmsford Citizens Advice Bureau.


Information assistants

Not all clients need advice – some only require help to locate the right information. Information assistants provide exactly that, and also support clients to use the different facilities that are available, such as kiosks, online PCs, benefits calculators and direct-dial phones. As an information assistant you would:

  • actively promote the use of kiosks/ PCs
  • support clients to use kiosks/ PCs
  • help identify the correct leaflet, self-help resource or service provider
  • identify where a gateway assessment may be required
  • record client numbers and issues.

Specific qualifications or experience are not required to train for the role. You need to:

  • have a good manner when talking to people
  • have basic computing and good literacy skills
  • be friendly and approachable.

Gateway assessors

Gateway assessors help clients get the right help in the fastest time possible. They assess people’s needs, either face-to-face or over the phone, and identify the most appropriate course of action. That might be self-help information, referral to a specialist organisation or an appointment with a CAB adviser. As a gateway assessor you would:

  • greet clients and explain the gateway assessment process
  • explore the client’s problem(s) and situation
  • assess the risk/urgency of the client’s issue and their ability to deal with the problem themselves
  • identify the next step that needs to be taken
  • summarise the content of the interview for the client and explain what happens next
  • ensure clients know they can return if necessary
  • update the database, completing the gateway assessment screens

Specific qualifications or experience are not required to train for the role. You need to:

  • be good at listening
  • have a good manner when talking to people
  • have basic computing skills
  • be open minded and non-judgmental
  • enjoy helping people

Advisers

Without our trained volunteer advisers we could not continue to meet the demand for advice. Our generalist advice service looks at a client’s situation holistically as opposed to looking at their problems in isolation from one another. Advisers are given free training, both formal and on-the-job. As an adviser you would:

  • interview clients
  • help them negotiate with people such as creditors or service providers
  • draft letters
  • make phone calls on their behalf
  • refer them to other agencies
  • represent them in court and at tribunals.

Attention all law students: If you train as a CAB adviser, you can get up to six months off your solicitor training contracts!


Administrators

As a volunteer administrator you would ensure the smooth running of our bureau by assisting with tasks such as:

  • word processing
  • file management
  • updating databases and spreadsheets
  • answering phone calls
  • replying to emails

Campaigners

By using evidence routinely collected from the clients, you could help bring about changes in local and national policies and services which can benefit everyone - even those who have never used a CAB. As a campaigner you would:

  • complete and collate evidence forms recording clients problems
  • identify and raise relevant issues in the bureau
  • train staff and volunteers in identifying issues and completing evidence forms
  • conduct research and write reports
  • get involved in media campaigning
  • liase with other bureaux and agencies

Fundraisers

Chelmsford Citizens Advice Bureau is a registered charity reliant on money from local authorities, companies, charitable trusts and individuals. As a fundraiser you would:

  • work with the bureau treasurer or other trustees to meet fundraising objectives
  • help with researching fundraising opportunities
  • organise fundraising events
  • help complete fundraising applications
  • put together presentations to give to potential funders

IT support co-ordinators

A wide range of our essential work depends on well-run IT systems. We use them for keeping track of cases, keeping in touch with clients, accessing e-services on their behalf, and monitoring trends. As an IT co-ordinator you would:

  • support bureau workers including staff and volunteers
  • troubleshoot hardware and software problems
  • maintain this website
  • train bureau workers in IT skills
  • assist with network, server and email support

PR/marketing

The bureau needs to maintain a profile in the local community to attract funding, recruit volunteers, promote CAB campaigns and to ensure that potential clients know how to access their services. As a PR/marketing volunteer you would:

  • produce promotional materials to use locally
  • tailor press releases issued by the national Citizens Advice press office to use locally
  • build relationships with your local media outlets and "sell in" stories
  • seek coverage for your bureau's work in local papers and on TV and radio
  • identify case studies of clients or volunteers who would be willing to talk to the media
  • write copy for this website
  • be trained to be a local media spokesperson
  • arrange events, displays and talks to promote the bureau
  • identify opportunities for your bureau to get involved in our annual Advice Week or other national events such as Volunteers Week

Receptionist

Receptionists are an integral part of the team, managing ‘front-of-house’ on the basis of information provided by the advice session supervisor. As a receptionist you would:

  • greet clients and other visitors
  • answer the phone
  • ensure clients know what is happening and how long they have to wait
  • explain the services available
  • point out leaflets, lists and self-help materials
  • monitor client numbers and waiting times
  • maintain the reception area
  • enter information into computer systems

Specific qualifications and experience are not required to take on the role. You need to:

  • have a good manner when talking to people
  • have basic computing skills
  • have an understanding of, and commitment to, confidentiality
  • be friendly and approachable.

Trustee

Because Chelmsford CAB is a registered charity, it has its own board of trustees. Some trustee roles require specific skills but we welcome people of all ages, backgrounds and experience to the trustee board. Because the board tends to meet in the evenings, you can fit this around a full time job or study. As a trustee you would:

  • manage and plan the bureau's overall strategic direction
  • act as employer for paid staff
  • manage the bureau's finances
  • ensure the bureau complies with the law
  • be responsible for premises, insurance and equipment.




      Volunteers hands raised

Why volunteer?

Make a difference

It can be incredibly rewarding to contribute something non-financial to a cause you care about.

Boost your confidence

Trying something new and getting out of your comfort zone every now and then can do wonders for your confidence levels.

Do something interesting

Don’t let your spare time trickle away – fill it doing something interesting and challenging.

Meet new people

Tired of doing the same things with the same group of friends? Widen your circle and horizons by meeting people you might not normally.

Improve your prospects

Having volunteering on your CV demonstrates that you’re someone with initiative and a rounded life. Nearly one third of the volunteers who leave the service each year go on into paid work.

Get to know your community

Whether you’ve lived here for 20 years or have just moved in as a student, you’ll develop a great feel for the people.

Put your talents to use

Use it or lose it! Got the gift of languages? Volunteer as an interpreter. A flair for design? Create reception displays. The possibilities are endless.

Enjoy free training

CAB trainee advisers can gain a nationally recognised qualification through their training, and other skills like PR, campaigning and administration can be learnt on the job in a supportive environment.

Gain office-based work experience

Get ahead of the competition for jobs and university places with some real life experience. Law students, for example, can knock 6 months off their training contract by volunteering as an adviser.

We need you!

Seventy five per cent of the people who work in the Citizens Advice service are volunteers, and we simply wouldn’t be here for our clients without them.