- Will I have to complete an application form or have an interview?
Yes, but remember the application form and interview is a two-way process. It enables the Training Supervisor at Citizens Advice Bedford to find out more about you, to ensure that you are suitable for the role, but also enables you to ensure that the volunteering opportunity meets your needs and interests.
- I've got specific skills and experience, can you use them?
One of the strengths of Citizens Advice Bedford is the diverse range of backgrounds, skills and experiences our volunteers bring to their roles. Once you have attended an interview we will be able to tell you more about the specific opportunities that can be offered to you. You can read what our volunteers do to find out more about some of the typical opportunities available across the service.
- Are there certain skills I need to be a Citizens Advice Bedford volunteer?
It will depend on which role you are interested in. All Assessors and advisers receive comprehensive free training so do not need any previous qualifications or experience. However, you will need to be open-minded, non-judgemental, be able to listen, learn, and work in a team. In most other roles, volunteers will usually need some form of prior experience. However, we have a learning environment and volunteering in any role will give you the chance to develop your skills.
- What will I get out of volunteering for Citizens Advice Bedford?
All our volunteers get something slightly different from the experience. Some of the most common benefits reported are:
- making a difference to an individual’s life
- changing the way things work for the better
- eceiving highly respected training
- getting invaluable work experience
- developing new skills
- putting existing skills to good use
- getting involved with the community
- making new friends
- What support will I get as a volunteer?
All volunteers are fully supported and supervised throughout their involvement with Citizens Advice Bedford. There will be a paid member of staff that you can turn to for extra support if you feel you need it. There is an Advice Session Leader on duty at each advice session to guide and assist volunteer advisers. We make sure that you are not put in situations that are beyond your abilities, and will work with you to help ensure that you find volunteering with us both challenging and rewarding.
- What is the dress code?
Smart casual is generally appropriate.
- Will I get my expenses paid?
In common with many organisations, Citizens Advice Bedford reimburses travel and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- What time do I have to arrive in the morning?
We like volunteers to attend our daily briefing meeting at 9.20am so between 9.00 and 9.15am is a good time to arrive.
- What can I do to prepare for my volunteering at Citizen’s Advice Bedford?
Read the information on our website.
Find out about our ethos and our twin aims as well as a wealth of information about subject areas and local news.
- I can only volunteer during term time. Will this be a problem?
Once you are trained we can offer flexibility in your working pattern. We would need you to be able to devote 2 to 3 months to complete your initial training before taking a break if possible.
- What are the chances of getting a job afterwards?
Nearly one third of staff at CAB was previously volunteers who applied for vacancies through a competitive selection process. A significant number of volunteers who are unemployed leave us go on to paid employment. Citizens Advice Bedford volunteering provides skills and experience that is valued by many employers.
- I have recently completed a law degree at University and I would like to volunteer, will it increase my chances of gaining a training contract with a solicitor firm?
We have many volunteers who are recent graduates, typically law but other subjects too. We find that volunteering at CAB provides a great insight and first-hand experience of managing cases, dealing with people who need help and sometimes in distress. Most of our recent graduate volunteers have successfully gained training contracts.
- Will volunteering affect my jobseeker's allowance?
Citizens Advice Bedford volunteering will not affect jobseeker's allowance (JSA) provided you:
- remain available for and are actively seeking a full time paid job
- take reasonable steps to find a job (e.g. answering adverts, signing up with an agency and taking other steps required by the Jobcentre Plus office)
- inform the Job Centre/ Jobcentre Plus office that you are volunteering
- can attend interview within 48 hours and take up work within one week.
- Citizens Advice Bedford can help you by providing a standard letter stating that the volunteer:
- receives no remuneration, only reimbursement of actual out-of-pocket expenses, which does not count towards the JSA ‘earnings disregard’
- can be contacted whilst volunteering at the local Citizens Advice if a job opportunity becomes available
- can be available at a week’s notice to start work or attend an interview with 48 hours’ notice.
- Volunteering should not affect income support as long as you are not receiving any money other than reimbursement of expenses.