For Emma, finding a voluntary role within her local community way key. After joining as a Volunteer Advisor, Emma now sits within the Learning and Development Team. Drawing on her own fairly recent experience, Emma had the confidence in her ability that she could add value to the team in the midst of the pandemic, when demand for training new volunteers was at a high.

What made you decide to volunteer for CAWS?

I joined Citizens Advice in West Sussex at the beginning of 2020 and began training to work as a Volunteer Advisor in the Haywards Heath office. I had been looking for a voluntary role within my local community and liked the level of local involvement the role at CAWS offered. My plans changed a bit when the Coronavirus outbreak interrupted my training. I completed the training online and then began working as an advisor remotely from home.

The work was quite challenging starting out from home alone, but stimulating, constantly varied and very rewarding. CAWS reacted amazingly to the challenge of Coronavirus, swiftly moving its workforce to remote working. This way they could continue to meet the high demand of calls from local people in need.

Tell us about your role at the charity

When an opportunity came up to be involved with the Learning and Development Team at CAWS, I jumped at it. Having gone through the remote training process relatively recently, I felt confident in my ability to add value to the team at a time when demand for training new volunteers was high. I support the team in producing training resources to use in the various training sessions they run. I help to plan and deliver some of those sessions and provide feedback to trainees as they learn the skills required for their role.

What do you enjoy the most about your role?

I love working as part of a team and it’s great to meet the new volunteers as they come on board. The training provided to new volunteers is vital to give them a confident start, and to help them take on the role quickly and effectively. It is rewarding to be able to feed into that process and to provide the best possible training and support to get them started.

Have you gained any skills since volunteering?

The role is completely new to me – my background is in financial services, so it has been great to develop new skills in learning and development. The initial training taught me how to listen effectively to clients and give them the confidence to deal with their problems. I was also taught the technical skills to help solve those problems.

My current role focusses on how best to prepare advisors to meet every eventuality and to give them the personal and technical skills to carry out their job effectively. The role has given me confidence and purpose and fits well around my family commitments.

What has been the most valuable part of your volunteering experience?

It’s being part of an organisation that is delivering amazing service to the people of West Sussex. CAWS is constantly striving to expand its reach to those who are most disadvantaged. The level of commitment from both staff and volunteers to helping everyone in need and to fighting unfair practices is inspiring. I am proud to be a part of that.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering for CAWS?

I would highly recommend volunteering. CAWS is friendly, supportive and flexible. The work is challenging and rewarding. Whatever your background or experience you will be given the knowledge, skills and confidence to undertake your role and be valued for your contribution to the service.

If you’re interested in volunteering, click here

Emma, Volunteer