Upon retiring, Clare had spare time to volunteer. Now a Volunteer Advisor, she has trained her way to advance within her advisor role and feels more valued as a volunteer than she ever did in paid work.
What made you decide to volunteer for the CAWS?
I left work three years ago and didn’t know what I wanted to do. Volunteering appealed to me and I saw the advert for a role at Citizens Advice in West Sussex. The video on the website really inspired me and showed me that Citizens Advice is a rewarding place to work. I knew after starting that I had found the role that fitted everything I wanted. I had felt when I worked in a paid role that I had become less valued as I got older. However, CAWS completely changed that feeling. I have never felt so valued and appreciated at an organisation throughout my whole working life.
Tell us about your role at the charity?
Before lockdown, I was working in the offices seeing clients face-to-face at our drop-in services. My role as a generalist advisor involved greeting and helping people. The waiting room was always full up nine times out of ten. Now I am working remotely, I work on Adviceline which involves giving advice and calling clients back. During lockdown, I started some training to move from a Level 2 Advisor to Level 3, something I really enjoy as I continue to learn new things every day.
At CAWS, there is so much room for development and you never feel stuck in one place. However, there is never any pressure to undertake training to advance if an individual doesn’t want to. It is the best of both worlds.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
I really enjoy the variety of my role. No two days are ever the same and there’s always lots going on.
I love meeting new people and supporting them with any advice I can give. I have never found a role like this one, it really ticks all my boxes. I wish that I had started volunteering for CAWS sooner. The organisation celebrates diversities and has restored my faith, knowing there are good organisations that actually care about their employees and clients.
Have you gained any skills since volunteering?
I have really been able to put my personal skills into practice whilst being at CAWS, such as being a good listener and being adaptable. Even though I was a reasonably confident person before starting here, I have only grown more confidence and massively increased my general knowledge since being here. Some days can be demanding and challenging but it is worth it when you know you are helping someone that needs it.
What has been the most valuable part of your volunteering experience?
Helping people and making a difference has been the most valuable part of my volunteering experience so far. It doesn’t always have to be a huge difference but even supporting one person with some advice can make the world of difference.
I have met many people that I wouldn’t have met in my day-to-day life without CAWS. I have learnt so much from the organisation’s values. I am now very conscious of imbalance within our communities and now find myself sharing this with my friends and family to open their eyes to the types of problems people are facing and how they can help.
Volunteering at CAWS has made me empathetic, understanding and has changed the way I view society.
What would you say to someone considering volunteering for CAWS?
If you are considering volunteering for CAWS, my advice would be to jump straight in. The roles are demanding and can be daunting at first but everyone is so welcoming. You will be valued and encouraged here at CAWS. If you are a caring person who would like to make a difference, volunteering at CAWS could be just the thing you need.
If you’re interested in volunteering, click here