Ashfield Citizens’ Advice relies on volunteers to help huge numbers of people across the district to tackle a wide range of problems — and is calling on locals to get involved.
From debt worries to housing issues, the service’s advice volunteers are highly trained and dedicated people who volunteer their time to help.
Last year, Ashfield Citizens’ Advice dealt with 15,100 issues, something it would simply not be able to manage without advice volunteers.
They are responsible for the vast majority of advice given to people seeking assistance.
Last year, volunteers at Ashfield Citizens’ Advice donated a total of 2,309 hours of their time, worth an estimated £142,095.
Despite the time commitment involved, many of the team give their time whilst also holding down a job.
And with more and more people relying on the charity for advice and support on a whole range of issues, Ashfield Citizens’ Advice is looking to recruit more volunteers.
The Chad spoke to some of the people already offering their time to find out why joining the ranks is something they would recommend...
Jirina Thomas has been a volunteer for three months.
She has just completed her adviser skills training, and has begun to interview clients.
Meanwhile she also works as a court-appointed translator throughout the week.
She said: “I work as a freelance interpreter for the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC.
“I wanted to utilise the knowledge I have gained about benefits, our justice system and law. I still keep my job while volunteering and it seems to work quite well.
“Both my jobs nicely complement each other.
“Volunteering for Ashfield Citizens’ Advice is a never-ending process of learning new skills from the highly qualified team of professionals, who help you with your first steps, support you whenever you ask, happily pass their knowledge and lead you on your way.
“Carefully prepared training helps you to gain confidence for all tasks laying in front of you on that long journey of worries, hesitation, joy and satisfaction.”
Another example is Jess Grainger who has volunteered for seven months and is an experienced adviser. She deals with questions on employment, welfare benefits and housing.
She said: “Volunteering with Citizens’ Advice is a great way to learn new skills, get involved in the community and help others, and it gives me the opportunity to learn from people who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the sector.
“Whilst studying a university degree course and having a part-time job, volunteering with Citizens’ Advice has enabled me to undertake the adviser training programme but offers flexibility around other commitments I have.
“One of the great things about volunteering with Citizens’ Advice is that support is always there. There is always someone to ask for help if you need it and you’re encouraged to be the best you can be.
“Since completing training and becoming an Adviser, I would now love the opportunity to make working for Citizens’ Advice my career.”
Volunteer adviser John Wilkinson said: “At Citizens’ Advice if you give your time you get a lot back.
“It is really satisfying being able to help people solve their problems and see that a weight has been lifted off their mind.
“Being a volunteer at Citizens’ Advice has also given me an opportunity to learn valuable skills and work with great people.
“I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking about volunteering.”
Twenty-one thousand volunteers gave up their time across the national Citizens’ Advice network last year.
The national charity estimates its volunteers donate more than £100million worth of time each year across England and Wales.
Ashfield Citizens’ Advice is currently recruiting more volunteer advisers. People interested in volunteering at Ashfield Citizens’ Advice should get in touch on 01623 784350 or visit www.ashfieldca.org.uk.