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How to become a Citizens Advice volunteer

The Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) was established in September 1939, just after war was declared, with local bureaux being set up in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. In over 60 years, the service has grown, with approximately 70 CAB and 199 service points across Scotland. CAB helps to solve some of the problems that are central to people’s lives, including debt and consumer issues, benefits, housing, legal issues, employment and immigration. They provide assistance to thousands of people across Scotland every year and rely on volunteers to fulfil key aspects of their service delivery.

On this page:

What does the role involve?
What will I get out of this?
What will I be expected to give back?
What skills do I need?
How do I get involved?

What does the role involve?

The Citizens Advice Bureaux relies on volunteers to deliver many of its services; in fact, 90% of CAB workers are volunteers! There are more than 20 different volunteer roles within the CAB service, in 4 main areas:

  • advice work
  • administration
  • social policy
  • CAB management committee

    The role of volunteer advice worker can be very challenging and rewarding. You are given the opportunity to work with clients one-to-one, listening to them, discussing their problems and making them aware of their options and choices. This role includes:

  • Interviewing clients - listening to the client and helping them to clarify the issues by allowing them to talk through and explain their problems
  • Provide information - using available resources and reference guides to find appropriate and correct information
  • Give advice - enable and empower the client to make their own decisions through providing about their options
  • Give practical help - helping clients to fill in forms, speaking or writing to another agency on behalf of a client

    The role of volunteer social policy worker can be very interesting and can allow you to develop several key skills. This role can involve:

  • Collating information - gathering and collating information relating to social policy
  • Identifying issues - monitoring new issues, problems and trends which impact on social policy and ensuring that colleagues complete social policy feedback forms
  • Distributing information - ensuring that the bureau management committee and the social policy department at Citizens Advice Scotland have up-to-date information about changes, issues and trends impacting on social policy

    As a volunteer administration worker you will help to ensure that the key services run smoothly. This role also provides an opportunity to gain practical experience and skills through working in an office environment. This role can include:

  • Collating information - ensuring that information on particular cases is complete and up-to-date, enabling the CAB to carry out effective social policy information work
  • Maintain local information - ensure that workers and clients have access to up-to-date information about local services
  • Maintain leaflet stocks - ensuring that current information is available to the public
  • General administrative duties - answering the telephone, typing and word processing, dealing with incoming and outgoing mail

    Each CAB is an individual charity and management committee members are charity trustees. As a committee member you have a legal duty to ensure that CAB adheres to its own agreed aims and regulation and works within the law. Committee members meet regularly (between 3 and 6 times a year) and are responsible for setting out the goals for the CAB. Committee members are elected and can serve as individuals or as representatives of local organisations. This role can include:

  • Publicising the CAB - ensuring that the bureau is widely known in the community
  • Monitoring staffing - making sure that there is enough staff to deal with enquiries
  • Staff support - ensuring that the quality of advice is maintained through providing staff with sufficient training, information, support and supervision and that the bureau manager is supported
  • Physical environment - ensuring that the premises and equipment allow clients to discuss their problems in private

    What will I get out of this?

    Volunteering with the CAB can be extremely rewarding and stimulating. Volunteers are a central and essential part of the CAB team and you will be making a positive contribution to an important free community service. Through training and work experience you will be given the opportunity to develop new and important skills which can be used in paid employment.


    What will I be expected to give back?

    Your time. You will be expected to give at least a few hours each week, in addition to time for training.


    What skills do I need?

    You don’t need any particular qualifications or experience, but the following skills and qualities are important:

  • good listener
  • non-judgemental
  • committed to confidentiality
  • able to work with clients to achieve results
  • competent in basic arithmetic
  • work well as part of a team
  • committed to equality

    How do I get involved?

    You can either contact you local CAB or contact Citizens Advice Scotland (the umbrella body for Scottish Citizens Advice Bureaux). Application forms are available online through the CAS website.

    Citizens Advice Scotland
    Spectrum House
    2 Powderhall Road
    EH7 4GB

    tel: 0131 550 1000

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