This year, we’re celebrating Volunteers Week to recognise and celebrate the amazing contribution our volunteers at Citizens Advice Bury and Bolton have made across our service.
Hear from three of our volunteers on how they started volunteering and what it means to them.
Keith, Volunteer Telephone Adviser
“My name is Keith and I’ve been a volunteer with Citizens Advice since 1995. My role is as a telephone adviser working in the advice hub, mostly calling clients back following their initial assessment they made at a drop in or telephone appointment.
I’ve had a couple different roles during my time here, but I enjoy this one the most. I volunteer for one day per week and before I retired, I worked as a firefighter for 30 years. Before I retired, I always considered doing voluntary work but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do until I watched a local appeal on ITV’s Granada Action about volunteering with Citizens Advice.
What I enjoy the most about volunteering is gaining new skills. I feel I can make a difference to people’s lives, I feel valued and a part of a team and I can develop existing skills and knowledge. I would definitely recommend volunteering to others, you can gain new skills, knowledge and experiences and improve your employment prospects, all whilst helping others less fortunate or those without a voice. There’s also the social aspects of volunteering, like meeting new people, making new friends, getting a chance to socialise and getting to know the local community.”
John, Volunteer Telephone Adviser
“My name is John and I’ve been volunteering since 2009. I’ve done a number of different roles since joining. When I first started, I helped the benefits team complete application forms for benefits, did face to face work with clients and phoned the DWP and HMRC to chase up queries. I’ve also accompanied advisers to outreach sessions, undertaken house visits to complete benefit application forms for clients unable to visit the office in Bolton, and worked with the debt team to complete forms and make calls. My present role involves doing follow up tasks for clients via telephone.
I started volunteering after a friend suggested we apply to Citizens Advice together in 2009. I had been retired for around 5 years at that point, and thought volunteering would provide a challenge and help me give something back to society. I enjoy working with other volunteers and paid staff, and meeting and helping clients, though COVID has meant much of the face to face activity has moved online.
I would recommend volunteering, Citizens Advice accepts volunteers as an integral part of the service. It gives you a sense of achievement helping clients with various problems, for which clients are usually very grateful.
Kumalo, Volunteer Telephone Receptionist
“I started volunteering at CABB in 2021 as a Volunteer Telephone Receptionist for the local office in Bury once a week after completing my master’s degree at Bolton University. My role as a Volunteer Telephone Receptionist entails answering calls from clients, listening to their issues, creating case notes and referring them onto skilled and qualified advisers. Doing this role, you have to enjoy it, be emotionally resilient, empathetic, and a good listener. Each client’s issue is unique and no two days are the same.
I decided to start volunteering because I had started job searching and was not getting anywhere due to lack of experience so wanted to gain experience on my CV while giving back to the community. I love my job as a volunteer because I feel useful to other people who need help. Through personal experiences of using the service, I understand the difference it makes in people’s lives. I have gained new transferable skills, great knowledge and gained experience that I can use in my everyday life.
Working for Citizens Advice Bury and Bolton has empowered me and given me confidence to have a voice. Everyone is welcoming and willing to teach and guide me . Having stayed home before, volunteering has given me something to look forward to each week. Having a purpose is good for my mental health and wellbeing and I am glad to have recently extended my volunteering hours.
The best part about volunteering is the company among colleagues, knowing that someone out there appreciates your help is rewarding while also learning more about societal issues that affect us and how and where to go for help. I would definitely recommend that someone looking for voluntary work and who enjoys helping others sign up with an organisation like CABB.”