“You never go home feeling that you have wasted your time”. So said one of the Citizens Advice Leiston, Saxmundham and District volunteers on being asked about the rewards of his role.
Citizens Advice Leiston relies on volunteer advisers to provide the advice service used every year by hundreds of East Suffolk people. Without volunteers there would be no service.
And now CA Leiston is putting out a call to would-be volunteers. CA NEEDS YOU.
Whatever your background, education and experience you have a wealth of valuable talent which can be harnessed to help and advise in a truly immediate way.
Spend a morning in the Leiston office and you will be confronted with a vast array of issues: spiralling debt, family and relationship breakdown, distraught victims of fraud, confused benefit claimants, employment problems, consumer problems, housing problems . These are just a few of the many questions brought to the office each week.
Our advisers are not expected to know all the answers, or indeed any, off the top of their heads. New volunteers take part in a training programme which over a period of time teaches them to use the Citizens Advice data base, an information system managed and used by Citizens Advice throughout the country. The trick is not to KNOW the answers , but to know how to find them.
The training is delivered in small groups and includes home study and observing advice sessions. Our trainees get experience in interviewing techniques and in recording advice on the secure data system and, crucially, they learn how to interrogate the advice system.
All would-be volunteers need to bring to the service is an inquiring mind, a non-judgemental approach to others and a desire to be of practical help to all those who come to the Citizens Advice. They are asked to commit on average one day a week to the service.
The rewards are great. Volunteers really do make a difference every time they are on duty. They are part of a committed band of individuals who are drawn from all walks of life and who bring and share a wealth of experience. Young, older, working and retired they all have one goal and that is to focus their talents where they can be most useful. And they make friends while working in a disciplined office environment.
Each Citizens Advice is an independent charity dependent on local fund raising and local authority grants. Volunteers are needed not just to deliver advice, but to fund raise, to help with administration and to join the trustee board.
Citizens Advice Leiston, Saxmundham and District also has a small number of paid staff consisting of a full-time manager, two part-time assistant managers, a part-time money advice specialist and a money advice assistant and an outreach organiser. The main office in Leiston is open from 10 am to 2pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. It operates a number of Outreach sessions, conducted by volunteers, in Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Framlingham, Saxmundham and a number of the smaller villages.
So if you want to burst out of your bubble, exercise your grey cells and join a Really Useful band of volunteers why not contact the manager Martin Jones on 01728 832193 or email www.leistoncab.org to arrange an appointment to visit the office, meet the volunteers and staff , discuss your skills and options and SIGN UP!