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A Personal View

Alastair Ritchie, Generalist Adviser, H&F CAB

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 the CAB is good for my health!

Bianca St Prix – former Gateway Assessor

Volunteering at Hammersmith and Fulham Citizens Advice Bureau 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 H&FCAB 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 CAB 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 H&F CAB 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 CAB 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 CAB 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 Hammersmith and Fulham Citizens Advice Bureau.