Do you have what it takes to volunteer with Citizens Advice?
Advice Centre, County Hall, High Street, Newport, Isle Of Wight, PO30 1UD
Volunteers who give advice to our clients are at the heart of our service and we could not manage without them. Volunteer advisers receive full training in the skills needed to help people deal with their problems and learn how to find the information the client needs from our extensive database. Volunteers are supported and supervised as they begin to give advice and will get feedback and development opportunities throughout their time with Citizens Advice. There are a variety of roles and tasks up to giving full advice. Advisers do some or all of this:
- Assess clients' problem(s) using sensitive listening and questioning skills.
- Identify key information about the problem including time limits, key dates and any requirement for urgent advice or action (using the Citizens Advice website, scripts and any other diagnostic tools, as necessary).
- Identify and summarise the essence of the problem.
- Establish what the client wants.
- Assess and agree the appropriate level of service, taking into consideration the client's ability to take the next step themselves, the complexity of the problem and the bureau's resources.
- Refer clients appropriately (both internally and externally) to suit clients' needs following agreed protocols, including making arrangements and informing clients of what to expect.
- Signpost clients appropriately to suit their needs following agreed protocols.
- Provide clients with discrete advice appropriate to their individual needs following agreed protocols
- Interviewing clients, both face-to-face and on the telephone, letting the client explain their enquiry and helping the client to set priorities.
- Finding, interpreting and communicating the relevant information and exploring options and implications in order that the client can come to a decision.
- Acting, where necessary, on behalf of the client, negotiating, drafting or writing letters or making appropriate referrals.
- Completing clear and accurate case records.
- Recognising the root causes of problems and participating in taking appropriate action.
- Keeping up to date on important issues by attending the appropriate training and by essential reading.
You don't need specific qualifications or experience to train for the role. You'd need:
- A commitment to the aims and principles of the Citizens Advice service.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Being open and approachable.
- Ability to communicate clearly both orally and in writing.
- Ability to quickly sift through information and extract what is relevant.
- Basic mathematical skills, including percentages.
- Respect for views, values and cultures that are different to their own.
- An understanding of why confidentiality is important.
- Competence in using IT.
- A positive attitude to self-development and assessment.
- Ability to work as part of a team.
- Ability to recognise their own limits and boundaries in the role.
Please note: If you're a law student and you train as a Citizens Advice adviser, you can get up to six months off your solicitor training contract!