John - When I retired, unexpectedly about a year earlier than planned, and with my wife still working, I was determined to keep busy and to find new activities which continued to provide an intellectual challenge – and, importantly, which “gave something back” to the community. I had never thought about Citizens Advice, or about volunteering in general, but now felt able to think about “working for free”! I now volunteer and enjoy a wonderful sense of well-being and achievement which derives from helping people resolve problems.
At the time of writing, I am a trainee adviser. I began my training in April 2018 and have been in the front line providing telephone and face to face advice since June. I expect to be fully fledged and “signed off” within the next 2 months. The organisation structure ensures that no advice is provided to clients without clearance from an experienced supervisor. So, although I am “alone at the coalface” with the advice interviews being one to one, both the client and the adviser can be confident in the supporting infrastructure of supervision and in the quality of all our advice resources.
I have spent my entire working career in the commercial business to business sector, so the whole area of social need, personal debt and benefits was entirely new to me. The learning curve is steep but immensely rewarding. I genuinely learn something new everyday and, of course, each client is different and each offer their own unique challenge.
Probably the most rewarding aspect is in being able to help solve some of our clients’ most serious life problems, and the gratitude people show for our help. People come into the office with a real worry and leave it either with the problem solved or at least with a clear route to solving it. This, coupled with the spirit of teamwork and feeling of belonging I enjoy by being part of an organisation which really does make a positive difference to people’s lives, makes volunteering with Citizens Advice a great decision for me.
I would encourage anyone to volunteer.