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
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.
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?
One of the advantages of volunteering with Citizens Advice is our strong ethos of drawing volunteers from a diverse range of backgrounds, who bring to their role skills and experience that are invaluable to our work. See Volunteer roles for further details of how your skills and experiences might fit into the roles we offer.
Do I require specific skills to volunteer with you?
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.