Here are stories from some of our volunteers!
Last year in Liverpool alone, the five CABs helped 24,175 people with over 35,949 problems. We couldn’t do this without our volunteers – people who come from all walks of life and give their precious time to help our community.
Here are some stories and experiences from some of our volunteers past and present as Citizens Advice celebrates its 75th birthday.
Paul, Wavertree CAB
I was a volunteer trainee advisor at Wavertree CAB in 2010. I volunteered as part of the extended hour’s project to ensure clients had access to services outside of “normal” office hours. The training and support I received from Wavertree CAB and Citizens Advice was more than I could have hoped for. They provided me with the skills and confidence to help clients, skills that have benefited me in future employment. The Bureau made me feel like I was a member of a large family, with a past, present and future that are all equally important. From the top down the Bureau ensured all actions were taken in the best interest of those it existed for, the clients.
I am proud to have passed through the Citizens Advice service. I am just one of many who have benefited from it and hopefully contributed to it. Its need and function outweigh any one person attached to it, all those connected to it are just temporary custodians ensuring it’s safely passed to the next generation. With every new generation that passes through its doors it is hoped that the knowledge, values and reach of the service spreads that little bit further and offers a light to those who may not have otherwise seen it.
I have seen the impact the service can have on people both as a volunteer, an employee of the CAB service and as an employee in other services. I can vouch for its importance and I thank everyone who has ever contributed – in whatever role – for creating something so unique, important and most importantly inclusive.
Gemma, Speke CAB
I feel that I owe a lot to Citizens Advice Bureau. I came out of University in the winter during 2010 with no idea what I wanted out of a job or career. One thing I knew is that I loved working with people and helping them. I needed to do something while out of work so I joined Speke CAB through the future jobs fund and immediately felt at home. The staff and other volunteers were fantastic and the training that I received was absolutely fascinating and built my confidence. I saw so much injustice and poverty when advising and felt we were performing a vital and important role working in the local community. I built my confidence and obtained job skills and secured a role as a full time Debt Caseworker in October 2012. I later qualified as an IMA money adviser and a few months ago I transferred my skills into the social housing sector where I now full time work assisting tenants with money and benefit issues. I am also studying law part time during the evenings. Citizens Advice Bureau inspired me to follow my dreams and I feel privileged to have worked with the community of Speke and to have had the training opportunities that I have had. Citizens Advice Bureau is not only a lifeline for people in the community facing very real problems but it is also a lifeline to its volunteers who are passionate about the work that they do. Happy birthday Citizens Advice Bureau. Let's work hard to save bureaux from cuts and ensure we can say, "Here's to another 75 years" in the future!
Selma, Norris Green CAB
I started volunteering at Norris Green Citizens Advice Bureau about 7 years ago, I have lived in the Norris Green area for about 10 years. At the time I started with the CAB I was living with my husband and 2 children, my children had grown up and I was working part time and decided I wanted to give something back to the community and learn some new skills. My son has a condition called Mucopolysacchride Hunter’s Syndrome, a progressive genetic disorder; as his main carer I had to fit in my volunteering around his regular hospital visits and weekly enzyme replacement therapy. Volunteering was flexible enough for me to do this.
Training in the bureau was a challenge to start with, especially as I had not done any formal learning for a long time. I really enjoyed it though. I felt I was achieving small goals at each stage of the training, there was lots of support from the training supervisor and other workers both paid and volunteers. My initial training took me about 6 months, after gaining some experience as a general adviser I then went on to specialise as a debt adviser. Training in the bureau is ongoing, as an adviser you never stop learning!
A highlight of my time as a volunteer in the bureau was to win an award at the Norris Green Community Award Ceremony in 2008. I was humbled by what other people had done and to feel part of that in recognition of my volunteering work was certainly a memorable event.
The training and experience I gained put me in a position to apply for and be successful in gaining a job as a debt adviser based in the south of the city. During this time sadly my husband died, helping other people and being able to focus on other things really helped me deal with his loss. Circumstances resulted in me having to leave my job; I also needed to be closer to home as my son’s care needs had increased. I quickly found I was missing the bureau with the challenges of working in a busy bureau and also the social side of bureau life. My children encouraged me to return to the bureau as a volunteer which could be flexible and fit in with my care responsibilities. I am back in Norris Green CAB and I can honestly say there is nothing more rewarding than being able to give someone who feels they have nowhere to turn some hope.
J, Liverpool Central CAB
I first started at the CAB in 1996 as a student. They welcomed me on board when I was 7 months pregnant with my daughter.
I then returned to the Bureau in 2010 when I was made redundant. This time I was not only a volunteer but a client, going through a number of problems including housing repossession. With the help of CAB the repossession was stopped and my debts were sorted out – and I have been volunteering there ever since.
I became a volunteer advisor and gained my certificate this year. My 16 year old daughter – who started out her CAB journey before she had even been born – has now become a volunteer herself during the school holidays.
Darren, South Liverpool CAB
I began volunteering at South Liverpool Citizen’s Advice Bureau a year ago after taking voluntary redundancy from the Civil Service. I had previously been involved in giving advice to charities with the Charity Commission and supporting members of staff as a trade union representative so I was interested see how an advice service worked in a broader context. Not only did volunteering with the CAB energise me again following a period of unemployment, but it gave me a much better understanding of the community that I live in and the problems people face, as well as the pleasure of meeting a more diverse group of people than I could have hoped to have come into contact with in my day-to-day life.
Volunteering with the CAB gave me the confidence to apply for employment as an adviser – and I have now just begun working with the Advice on Prescription team – going to health centres and doctors’ surgeries and meeting people who have been referred by their GP or health professionals for advice.