Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Like many other local advice bureaus, we rely heavily on the support of volunteers, so it is always even more rewarding when we are able to support volunteers with their development and move them into paid employment. Vivia, joined us as a volunteer trainee adviser and has since progressed to become a fully trained paid member of staff.
In our latest blog she talks about her experiences as a volunteer and the opportunities afforded to her as she progressed to being a paid team member.
Hello, my name is Vivia
I chose to volunteer with Citizens Advice, after a two year caring responsibility came to a natural end. I have always been interested in helping others and this seemed a good way of doing so. Although the training was quite rigorous, it was extremely interesting and worthwhile. It was very informative in general with regard to exploring issues for myself, family members and friends, as well as prospective clients.
After being given every practical assistance and successfully completing the training, which included observing others, as well as being observed, the reality of ‘going it alone’ was the next hurdle to overcome. I found that assistance from senior management, as well as colleagues, was available in abundance. So instead of this being a daunting prospect, it just became a seamless and enjoyable experience. Because as a Volunteer, there is always the choice of staying or leaving as you please, I found that volunteering really challenged my motives for joining the organisation, as well as my level of commitment to the organisation, when the not so pleasant side of matters arose. Again I found management and colleagues very understanding, supportive and helpful.
As a Volunteer you can work as many or as few hours as you wish. I chose to work on a Monday and Wednesday morning when the open door sessions were in operation. This meant that I had no idea what I would encounter. Therefore my experiences were very varied in terms of the level of challenge I would face in a particular session. This environment helped me to learn quickly and grow in confidence as situations were repeated with different peripheral elements. When a new set of volunteers arrived, I found that I was the one being asked questions and I genuinely surprised myself as to how much I actually knew!!!
Although you cannot make things right for everyone, you can show that you care by taking the time to listen to what is happening in the lives of others and the concern to refer them to other suitable organisations, where appropriate. Another way is to make sure you do not overlap any pressures or problems you are experiencing in your own life, into the client experience. Therefore it is important to approach any role within the organisation in the right frame of mind; being helpful to the client and not a hindrance or obstruction.
For me personally, it has been a great experience. One which has stretched me both mentally and emotionally but one which has been enjoyable at the same time. I have since moved on from being a volunteer and am now a paid worker. If you are interested, the organisation offers you the opportunity to apply for paid positions when they become available.
I hope you come and join us, we are looking forward to welcoming you.
To find out more about becoming a volunteer like Vivia did, visit www.haringeycabx.org.uk /volunteering