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Volunteering

Our wonderful team of over 100 volunteers have a huge range of backgrounds and experiences, they reflect our diverse and vibrant community.

They all help to support our service either through advising the public, back office administration, data analysis and campaigns, engaging with the local community face to face, by phone or in group sessions. All our volunteers are fully trained, and they always have someone there to support them.

We are hugely proud of our volunteers and if you would like to be a part of this successful, innovative and welcoming team, you can find all the information you need on this page, and details of how to apply below.

Jump to: How to Apply | Volunteer Roles | Volunteering FAQs | Volunteering Case Studies

What to expect

We ask for an initial commitment of 6 months and the amount of time differs for each role. For example our Digital Champions do half a day per week and our Assessors do a minimum of 15 hours per week across 2 full days or 3 / 4 shorter days.

We offer training and induction to all our volunteers, and whichever role you do, there will be a named person to supervise you so you always know where to turn for support. Our training is competence based, so we track your development and certificate you to your volunteer role then offer you opportunities to progress to other roles, if that is your goal.

Some volunteers stay for just 6 moths and some have been with us over 10 years. The majority of volunteers who leave us go into full time employment, and our ultimate goal is that whenever a paid job comes up with us, it is filled by one of our volunteers. By employing our volunteers, we can guarantee that they have been well trained and deliver high quality services. Half of our paid staff are former CAHF volunteers and we continue to structure our training to enable this progression and maximise these opportunities.

How to apply

If you can see yourself as part of this team, using your skills and learning new ones, giving back to the local community, solving problems and helping those in need whatever their problem, we would love to hear from you.

Get in touch on volunteer@cahf.org.uk and we can send you all the information needed, or you can apply using this online form.

For all volunteer roles we send you a brief test and then conduct an interview. Some interviews include a practical assessment relevant to that role, for example our Financial Capability Trainers do a brief presentation and Assessors do a mock telephone call.

Unfortunately we do not pay travel expenses during the recruitment process. If selected, we pay out of pocket travel expenses for all attendance at training, induction and regular volunteering. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We delete all information 12 months after receipt unless you have been successful in recruitment, in which case we gain your permission on what is retained and how it is used. Further information is in the volunteer application form.

 

Volunteer Roles

Here are the different volunteer roles we recruit for – different roles require different skills and time commitments.

For some roles there will be a test as part of the recruitment, for some roles there will be a practical assessment or presentation at interview.

Even if we are not currently recruiting to your chosen role, we welcome your application and will keep your details on file and contact you when the next intake begins.

Assessor role

Commitment: minimum 2 full days per week delivery (9.30am to 5pm or possibly 3 shorter days by agreement), with some additional commitment during initial training.

Recruitment timetable: 6 days of training conducted every 2 months.

Role Description: Delivering triage assessments by telephone and face to face. Assessment = efficiently exploring the client issue then giving either information, signposting elsewhere, or booking an appointment. On reaching competence in the Assessor role (approximately 26 weeks) we certificate you and give you the option to move on to training as an Adviser.

Adviser training and development over a further 26 week period with similar competence based achievement and certification.

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • The ability to communicate effectively with clients face to face and by telephone to control the conversation, extract key information, research answers and explain options in a way that will be understood by clients with a range of abilities
  • The ability to write objective, succinct case notes that meet our quality standards
  • Call centre experience is an advantage
  • Typing skills preferred
  • Research skills (mainly online) are essential
  • An organised approach
  • The ability to follow instructions and act positively on feedback and constructive criticism
Befriender

Commitment: 2-3 hours per week – at least 6 months

Recruitment timetable: Actively recruiting throughout the year

Role Description: You will make weekly telephone calls to 2-3 people who are socially isolated and need regular friendship, support and chat. You can make the calls whenever suits you both and you will be asked to keep short written records of your discussions. This is not a traditional advice role but you will be given some training and the support of our Befriending Coordinator.

Key Skills, abilities and experience

  • Patience, empathy and a willingness to chat about anything are the key requirements for this role.
Office Assistant

Commitment: minimum 1.5 days per week (or 3 half days)

Recruitment Timetable: a rolling programme of intakes across the year

Role Description: A wide range of back office work to support the organisation such as archiving, assisting with volunteer applications, offering and booking training courses, working alongside advisers or Team Leaders with such tasks as letter writing, filing, note taking, etc. It could be supporting at events or minute taking or keeping our Information Hubs up to date.

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • The ability to work independently and to follow instructions – both verbal and written
  • Good attention to detail
  • The ability to develop processes and procedures to increase the efficiency of key tasks
  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel
  • Good communication skills both verbal and written
Digital Champion – Become a TechMate!

Commitment: 1-2 half days per week

Recruitment timetable: Actively recruiting throughout the year

Role Description: We support residents who want to learn basic digital skills. Sessions are held at Avonmore Library and in weekly Computer Clubs in local housing estates.  We mainly use www.learnmyway.com for those with limited digital skills but individual requirements and ability will vary according to the learners’ experience. Residents are taught using tablets and laptops provided or their own equipment.

  • Work with a of team of volunteers to provide 1-to-1 guidance in weekly sessions held at different locations around the borough
  • Assess resident’s initial needs
  • Suggest an appropriate learning plan using modules from Learn My Way or other online resources
  • Support learners in weekly sessions and/or ad hoc training requests

Key Skills, abilities and experience

  • Confident using basic computing functions such as setting up an email address, downloading apps, using Microsoft Office or Google Docs
  • Experience of using different operating systems (Android, IoS and Window) is helpful
  • Specific technical expertise is not required as most learners are at basic level
  • Experience of teaching / mentoring is an advantage but patience and empathy are essential
Library Support

Commitment: minimum 1 day per week (or 2 half days)

Recruitment timetable: a rolling programme of intakes across the year

Role Description: We deliver the library service at Avonmore Library and Neighbourhood Centre. This is a self-serve library so professional library qualifications are not required. We are looking for people able to help us with some or all of the following:

  • Maintain an ordered library stock
  • Maintain our Information Hub of leaflets and fliers
  • Organise and run community events
  • Assist customers to use the self-serve library facilities
  • Assist customers wanting to learn digital skills

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • An organised approach, with the ability to follow instructions
  • Good attention to detail
  • Good customer service and communication skills, experience of customer facing roles is an advantage
Financial Capability trainer

Commitment: 3-4 half days per month

Recruitment timetable: a rolling programme of intakes across the year

Role Description: Would you be happy to stand up in front of a dozen people and talk to them about everyday money management skills? Training is provided both in-house and at Citizens Advice head office and by shadowing experienced trainers.

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • Good presentation skills to audiences with a range of abilities and experiences
  • An ability to adapt delivery style to the needs of the learners
  • An organised approach to preparing for sessions
  • An interest in financial issues that affect the local community
  • An ability to act positively on feedback and constructive criticism
Campaigns Volunteer

Campaign work is our twin aim and is about collecting client evidence to challenge local policies or to input nationally to campaign work performed by Citizens Advice.

Commitment: minimum 1 day per week

Recruitment timetable: Ad hoc recruitments depending on the size and workload of the current team

Role Description: This role is to work alongside other staff and volunteers in the Campaigns team and will involve a mix of tasks from writing up evidence forms, interviewing clients, involvement in campaign planning, media work and influencing decision makers. Our team will consist of a variety of skills and abilities so please outline which of the list below (or others you feel are relevant) you can add to the team. We do not expect you to have them all.

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • The ability to extract key information from case records and present in a style that clearly summarises the issue and demonstrates impact
  • The ability to interview clients sensitively to capture and effectively summarise their story
  • The ability to work independently, to deadlines and to have an organised approach to planning workload
  • Excellent communication skills, particularly in writing, with attention to detail
  • The ability to communicate via and to a variety of media (social media, print media, etc)
  • A drive to achieve positive change
Data Analysts

Commitment: 1 day per week

Recruitment timetable: Ad hoc recruitments depending on the size and workload of the current team

Role Description: Working with the Chief Executive and management team you will support the analysis and presentation of data for funding bids, trustees, reports and to examine client and advice trends.

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • Experience and strong research, analysis and IT skills are preferred
  • Advanced knowledge and experience of Excel is required
  • An ability to work flexibly to achieve tight deadlines where additional hours may be required on or off site
  • Excellent presentation skills to show complex information in a simple and engaging format
  • An ability to work independently to a set of instructions or guidelines
  • An approach to developing systems and processes that help the organisation to work more effectively and efficiently
Finance

Commitment: 1 day (or 2 half days) per week minimum

Recruitment timetable: Ad hoc recruitments as required

Role Description: The role will be mainly data entry into our QuickBooks system and filing tasks, under the guidance of the Finance Manager.

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • Basic accounting knowledge to a book-keeping level is required
  • Knowledge of Quick Books programme would be an advantage, but not essential
  • Excellent accuracy and attention to detail
  • The ability to work independently
  • Good communication skills to keep the finance team updated of progress
Social Media / Public Relations Volunteer

Commitment: 1 day (or 2 half days) per week minimum but off-site, ad hoc work anticipated

Recruitment timetable: Ad hoc recruitments as required

Role Description: We are looking for someone to continue our public facing information, promotion, social media and web content. We also run community events which require co-ordination and communication with partners and delivery.

Key Skills, Abilities and experience

  • Experience of Social Media software is preferred: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • The ability to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences
  • An engaging and professional manner
  • Experience of success in promotional activities
  • The ability to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of publicity
  • The ability to work independently
  • Attention to detail
  • An ability to prioritise the reputation of the organisation in all communications
  • A flexible approach to the role

Volunteering FAQs

Will I have to complete an application form/have an interview?

All volunteers are required to complete an application form, the form differs from a job application form because we require its completion not to assess your ability to meet the criteria of an advertised post, but to give you an opportunity to tell us about your skills and the roles you’ve undertaken in both paid and unpaid capacities. We want you to tell us about all your skills and this includes those outside of employment for example, as a carer or via your involvement in social groups. The volunteer application form enables us to find out more about you and that the volunteering opportunity for which you’ve applied meets your needs and interests and that you can meet the commitment required to perform the roles you are interested in.

We conduct an interview for all our volunteer roles and for most roles we will also send you a test to complete before we arrange the interview date. We will provide you with information about Citizens Advice policies before your interview, this is so that we can interview you to a high standard. We expect you to read, consider and understand the information we send. We have high expectations of our volunteers and so we recruit to a high standard. There is further information about the Citizens Advice service on the national Citizens Advice website (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/).

How much time will I need to commit to volunteering with Citizens Advice?

Time committed to volunteering with us depends upon the role that you choose to undertake with us. We have explained the commitments in the Volunteer Roles section above.

If you cannot meet the required commitment for the roles you have expressed an interest in, we may suggest other roles to you.

I’ve got specific skills and experience can you use them?

It will depend on which role you are interested in. Some roles require specific skills, for example we want our Data Analysts to have experience in Microsoft Excel as this is the format most of our service delivery data is in.

For other roles we do not ask for specific skills as we will develop these through training and support. For all roles we are looking at attitudes as well as skills, we require you to be open-minded, non-judgemental, and be able to listen, learn and work in a team

Will I get my expenses paid?

We reimburse volunteers for reasonable ‘out-of- pocket’ expenses for travelling to our offices or other venue where you assist us (Congestion charge is not included). Lunch will only be reimbursed when a volunteer attends full day external training events where lunch is not provided.

What age restrictions are there on volunteering with you?

Volunteers need to be 16 years or over. There is no upper age limit for volunteers.

Will volunteering with you affect my Benefits?

If you are receiving certain state benefits you might have a responsibility to inform the relevant agency before you start volunteering. Volunteering with us will not affect Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit PROVIDED YOU:

Take reasonable steps to find a job (e.g. answering advertisements, signing up with any agency, and taking other steps required by the Job Centre)
Can be available for work for 40 hours each week
Inform the Job Centre / work coach that you are volunteering
Can take up work or attend interview within 48 hours.
We can help you by providing a standard letter stating that you:

Don’t get paid, only reimbursed actual out-of-pocket expenses
Can be contacted whilst volunteering at CAHF if a job opportunity becomes available
Can be available at a certain period of notice to start work or attend an interview (must be less than 48 hours).

Will volunteering with CAHF affect my other benefits?

You should notify the relevant agency before starting your volunteer role if you receive benefits such as Employment Support Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or Carers Allowance. We can help you by providing a standard letter confirming:

Numbers of hours volunteering undertaken with CAHF
Hours spent volunteering at the bureau are unpaid
Flexibility of volunteering i.e. it cannot be regarded as the same as paid work.
There are some benefits that are not affected by volunteering and where the relevant agencies do not need to be informed that the person is volunteering. These include: State Retirement Pension, Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit, Statutory Maternity pay, Maternity Allowance, War Widow’s Pension and Widow’s Pension.

Will I have to complete DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service)?

We do not currently ask for a DBS check unless your role is likely to involve working alone with children or vulnerable adults, but this may alter depending on changes in local or national policy.

I work full time, can I still volunteer?

CAHF normal working hours are 9.30am – 5.00pm Monday-Friday, and volunteer opportunities will usually be limited to these hours. In limited roles and circumstances, we may ask for help with evening or weekend sessions that we run and Trustee Board meetings usually take place after 6pm. Therefore, for those unavailable on weekdays, the range of volunteer opportunities will be limited.


Volunteering Case Studies

Alastair Ritchie, former Volunteer Adviser and then Project Worker

Why is volunteering good?

A former Prime Minister once said that “Volunteering is essential to creating an inclusive and mutually supportive society.” Whilst, I could write about having an altruistic nature and the benefits of a ‘Big Society’ there are better reasons!

Over the past two decades there is a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social benefits. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not.

Furthermore, comparisons of the health benefits of volunteering for different age groups has also shown that older volunteers are the most likely to receive greater benefits from volunteering. In other words volunteering at Citizens Advice is good for my health!

Bianca St Prix – former Volunteer Assessor

Volunteering at Citizens Advice Hammersmith and Fulham has been one of my best career decisions that I have made. Coming from a five-year employment break, whilst concentrating on my educational studies has enabled me to regain my confidence within a working environment and gain real work experience. Volunteering at CAHF has also exposed me to a variety of societal issues that affect the local community. This experience has been invaluable as it has provided me with the opportunity to gain knowledge outside of my legal studies, assist members of local community and to give something back.

The training provided by the CAHF is second to none. They have equipped me with employment skills that will be highly valued by any employer, such skills are also transferable to everyday life situations. For me the best things about volunteering at CAHF were the members of staff. From my very first day, all staff were very welcoming and very pleasant to be around. The support received has been first class. I was able to approach anyone with any issues that I had.

Another best is when a client tells you thank you. When this happens you know the time you have given is appreciated and worth it. For me, this was most rewarding.

Since joining the CAHF I have been selected by the Mayors Office for London Policing and Crime to become an Independent Custody Visitor. I have also obtained a full time paid position at a leading criminal law firm. I am truly grateful for being selected by the CAHF for a voluntary position, without doing so I would not have realised my full potential as a valid employee and would not be where I am today. Thank you to all at Citizens Advice Hammersmith and Fulham.