Welcome to the latest installment of our ‘Meet The Team’ series, where we introduce you to the people behind the scenes helping our clients at Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton (CABB). In our last installment we met Gail, our Immigration Service Manager – in case you missed it you can read it here.
This month, it’s the turn of our volunteer support team – the people responsible for supporting our fantastic team of volunteers on a day to day basis. We spoke to Christine, David and Ellen to find out why volunteers are so important to CABB and what makes working for Citizens Advice so rewarding.
What is your role at CABB and how long have you worked for Citizens Advice?
David – My name is David and I’m the Volunteer Services Manager at CABB. I joined Citizens Advice in 1994 when I was a volunteer myself! I became a permanent staff member in 2000 when I worked at Citizens Advice Wigan Borough. I joined the Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton team in 2013.
Christine – My name is Christine and I’m the Volunteer Support Officer. I’ve been with Citizens Advice in 2007 – as a volunteer myself. In 2008, I joined the team as an employee.
Ellen – I’m Ellen and my role at CABB is Advice & Learning Officer. I first started volunteering at Citizens Advice in 2009 and became a member of staff in 2013.
What are the responsibilities involved with your role?
David – As Volunteer Services Manager, I am a member of the Leadership Team at CABB. I aim to ensure that our volunteers are supported. I also monitor the contribution our volunteers make to CABB and our aim of helping our community.
Christine – I provide support to our volunteers on a day to day basis – I act as a sounding board and give support to our volunteers with the queries they are supporting our clients with. When we are able to run our face to face services to clients, I am on hand to support volunteers here too. I also provide advice directly to clients myself on the phones doing call backs to clients.
Ellen – I work closely with all our volunteers on a day to day basis, and both Chistine and David. Additionally, I take responsibility for coordinating the induction training for new volunteers and support with identifying volunteer training needs and refreshers.
What do volunteers at CABB do?
David – Our volunteers play a really vital role at CABB – without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to deliver the level of services we currently do. The volunteer team are primarily responsible (with the support of Christine, Ellen and myself) to support clients with issues such as consumer, family and relationships and housing disrepair. Our volunteers are the initial point of contact for all clients who call our freephone adviceline service – they will take client details and explore the clients issue with them, advising if it falls within their remit.
Some volunteers also provide face to face advice in our drop-ins and booked appointments. They also provide reception support on our drop-ins.
CABB have a number of specific funding contracts and specialist staff – where required, our volunteers will pass the client details through to our paid staff team for progressing in line with a funding contract.
We currently have 31 volunteers at CABB, but are looking to increase this in the coming months.
What makes volunteers so valuable to CABB?
David – Our volunteers come from very diverse backgrounds and this results in them bringing many different skills to the table at CABB.
Christine – The volunteers we have at CABB are invaluable to our service and make a real difference to the clients, helping them with the problems they are facing.
Ellen – All of the volunteers bring with them many different life experiences – without them our service simply would not be able to function properly.
What makes volunteering/ working for CABB so rewarding?
David – Working for Citizens Advice over the years has been hugely rewarding – no two days the same. It can be a fun and really supportive environment to be part of – personally, it allows me to feel a real satisfaction in helping our local communities. Being part of the Citizens Advice service has allowed me to achieve things that I would never have dreamed of previously.
Christine – It’s very rewarding working for Citizens Advice as you can make a real difference to peoples’ lives. The clients we interact with come from all walks of life and we deal with many issues, every day is different. Your own personal skill set and knowledge is also kept up to date via training and working with new technology.
Ellen – The best thing about working for Citizens Advice is you meet all kinds of people from all walks of life and are gaining new skills all the time. It’s a challenging job but also extremely rewarding, as you can make such a difference to someone’s life.
Interested in volunteering for Citizens Advice?
At Citizens Advice Bury & Bolton, people of all ages give up their time to volunteer with us. Our volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including young people, professionals who want to broaden their horizons and retired people who want to give something back.
We’re always looking to take on enthusiastic people who want to gain experience helping their community. We’re currently recruiting for Volunteer Telephone Receptionists to assist with our Freephone Adviceline service – you can find out more here.