Articles in Category: volunteers

What do volunteers do?

Posted in volunteers

Citizens Advice volunteering really does provide an opportunity to learn new skills and to develop existing ones. With so many different volunteering opportunities on offer, there's bound to be something to suit you. Citizens Advice Portsmouth provides some of the best work experience opportunities around through many of our voluntary work roles.

Meet new people - for many people, the best thing about volunteering for Citizens Advice is meeting a wide range of people and making new friends. There is a real team spirit at Citizens Advice, and we provide a supportive environment to make sure that you get the most out of your time with us. 

Volunteering is a chance to make a real difference. By volunteering with the Citizens Advice you’ll be playing an active part in improving the lives of millions of people and influencing the development of national and local policies and services. 

You won’t be out of pocket – we will cover any travel costs you incur by volunteering. 

You don’t have to know it all, we give excellent training and support in a friendly team. Isn't it time you gave yourself a new challenge?

Trustee Board Members

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All Citizens Advice are independent charities, governed by their own board of trustees, who are ultimately responsible for the quality and range of the service. Day-to-day control is delegated to the Operations Manager, but Trustees:

  • Set the overall direction and support the development of the centre.
  • Ensure the centre meets the needs of the local community and the Citizens Advice membership standards.
  • Employ Citizens Advice staff and control centre finances.
  • Earn and retain the respect of important and influential people and organisations in the community, including funding bodies.
  • Ensure the centre complies with relevant laws.

Research & Campaigns

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Could you be our megaphone? 

Do you have a strong sense of Justice? 

Do you have an understanding of current social issues and their impact on the local and wider community? 

Could you spare a few hours per week to help your local Citizens Advice? 

We are looking to recruit a small team of volunteers to help with our research and campaigns work. 

Citizens Advice use information from the issues brought into Citizens Advice by clients, to help bring about real change by influencing local and national policy. 

Our research and campaigns team help and support our staff and volunteers recognise and record  suitable cases for Research & Campaigns work.

They work with local and national groups involved with Research and Campaigns work.

They report directly to the Management Team and Trustee Board on matters of Research & Campaigns.

The role can be rewarding in many ways, making new friends, being part of a team of like minded volunteers and really making a difference to the people of Portsmouth.

Here are a couple of examples of campaign that Citizens Advice is currently running;

‘Dialing Down Debt’

Mobile phones are becoming an essential part of everyday life. Yet despite being described as the “fourth utility”, research conducted by Citizens Advice found that mobile phone debt collection practices in the UK are falling behind when compared to similar markets, such as energy and water. This must change.

Citizens Advice is campaigning for fairer debt collection practices across the mobile phone sector that work better for everyone: clients, advisers, and suppliers.

Citizens Advice is running a campaign aimed at improving the private rented sector.

  • No renter should ever have to pay excessive and inexplicable fees for the basic services a letting agent provides. We want to see the letting agent fee ban announced in the Autumn statement brought in as soon as possible.
  • No renter should be evicted simply for complaining about bad conditions.
  • No renter should ever be left out of pocket after renting a home which proves to be dangerous or uninhabitable. We want tenants to be supported when applying for rent refunds where the property they're living in is dangerous or not fit to live in. 
  • No renter should be at the mercy of rogue landlords who consistently break the rules, taking deposits unlawfully, harassing tenants or renting substandard homes. We want renters to be able to access the new rogue landlords database.

 

If you think you have the passion and enthusiasm to win hearts and minds, or want more information, please contact Wayne Grice at Citizens Advice Portsmouth on 02392 855862

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Receptionists

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Receptionists are the public face of the Citizens Advice. They are the main link between the public and the centre. This role would suit people who are methodical, organised and patient. As a receptionist, you would:

Purpose of the role

To welcome clients, provide information and ensure they are dealt with according to organisational systems

Main duties and responsibilities may include:

  • Operate the reception and provide information.
  • Welcome clients coming into the reception contact area.
  • Explain waiting times and procedures to clients.
  • Provide information about Citizens Advice Portsmouth and other advice services to clients from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures.
  • Work collaboratively with other colleagues involved in the advice work process.
  • Provide a service that is based on sensitivity and respect for clients.
  • Acknowledge children and / or any special needs and take appropriate action.
  • Maintain confidentiality about clients and their contact with the organisation.
  • Consult the gateway / advice session supervisor appropriately.
  • Work within agreed organisation systems and procedures.
  • Answer the telephone and refer calls or take messages.
  • Process client information collected at the reception helpdesk.
  • Provide client with information where appropriate, including details of other agencies, and point out leaflets / fact sheets from the Citizens Advice website.
  • Create, maintain and archive paper and electronic filing systems in accordance with the organisation's systems and procedures.
  • Liaise with advice staff regarding support for individual clients.
  • Maintain stocks of stationery, leaflets and posters, and order from suppliers.
  • Maintain online and other electronic appointment diaries.
  • Update public information materials and information.
  • Maintain statistics and collate and produce reports to a prescribed format.
  • Use IT for record keeping

Research and campaigns

  • Assist with research and campaigns work by providing information about clients' circumstances through the appropriate channel.

Personal skills and qualities that a reception worker needs

  • Friendliness and approachability.

  • Commitment to the Aims and Principles of the CAB service including the service's equality and diversity policies.

  • An understanding of discrimination or the willingness to learn about it.

  • Excellent verbal communication skills including telephone skills.

  • Good numeracy and literacy skills.

  • Ability to access relevant signposting information including electronic and written materials.

  • Ability to implement administrative policies and procedures in a busy work environment.

  • Good IT skills, including Word, email and internet.

  • Flexibility and willingness to work as part of a team.

  • Awareness of the potential needs of, and demands placed on, vulnerable clients.

Advice Coach

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Being an Advice Coach is a very varied role. As an Advice Coach you will:

  • Interview customers at drop-in sessions and by phone to get an understanding of the problems they face.
  • Give information from our comprehensive electronic information system and other resources.
  • Give practical help by writing letters, making phone calls, completing forms, doing calculations and possibly even representing clients at tribunals.
  • Give advice tailored to the individual needs of the customer; explaining the choices and consequences the customer faces.
  • Prevent future problems by identifying issues that affect a lot of customers.

Advice Coach

You don't need any particular qualifications or experience to train as an Advice Coach. All sorts of people are Citizens Advice advisers. You need to:

  • Be good at listening.
  • Be able to work in a team.
  • Be able to read and write English, and do basic maths.
  • Be open-minded and non-judgemental.
  • Enjoy helping people.

Advice Coach's don't need to know it all! We provide all trainee Advice Coach's with a comprehensive accredited training programme that will give you the skills you need to deliver a high quality service to customers. Our up-to-the-minute electronic information system contains most of the information you will need when advising customers. You won't be left alone after you are trained. There will always be an Advice Service Co-ordinator and more experienced advice coach's to give you support, advice and guidance. Once you have qualified as a Advice Coach, you will have the opportunity to develop further skills and increase the depth and breadth of your knowledge. 

Administrators

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Administrators ensure that centre systems run smoothly. Good support is essential for the running of any organisation, and Citizens Advice is no different. There are many different administrative roles - we can match your skills and time available to the centre's needs.

Main duties and responsibilities include:

Correspondence, reports and other documents

-          Word process letters, documents and reports as required

-          Maintain statistics and collate and produce to a prescribed format

-          Produce information from spreadsheets and databases

-          Type letters and memos for organisation workers.

Administration

-          Use photocopier, fax and other office machines as appropriate

-          Update databases and information systems.

-          Filing.

-          Maintain filing systems in accordance with the organisation's systems and procedures

-          Open, record and distribute incoming post, and prepare outgoing mail for despatch where required.

-          Maintain stocks of leaflets and posters, and order from suppliers

-          Display leaflets and posters in the general office, waiting room and interview rooms

-          Maintain diaries and work records

-          Answer the telephone and refer calls or take messages

Archiving

-          Arrange the collection and retrieval of records;

-          Maintain information and records;

-          Respond to enquiries from staff members;

-          Maintain and enter data on user-friendly, computer-aided search systems

-          Run reports on bespoke computer system to gather data

-          Identify records for destruction and action accordingly

-          Liaise with archiving organisation where required.

Other duties and responsibilities

-          Abide by health and safety guidelines and share responsibility for own safety and that of colleagues

-          Any other relevant administrative and support duties required to ensure the smooth running of the bureau

-          Ensure that work undertaken reflects and supports the Citizens Advice service’s equality and diversity strategy

Personal skills and qualities that an office administrator needs:

 -          A commitment to the aims and principles of the Citizens Advice Service.

-          To be organised and systematic.

-          An understanding of the importance of Citizens Advice work.

-          Excellent communication skills, both orally and in writing.

-          A willingness to attend training and other meetings.

-          To be able to work as part of a team.

What customers say

“I was very low when I came to the CAB, with debts and problems everywhere. I am now a lot happier, as I pay one sum of money each month and get left alone by creditors”.