How did you get into volunteering for Citizens Advice in West Sussex (CAWS)?
Through my university really! I am in my final year of my law degree and we were given the opportunity to gain some practical experience in the form of a legal clinic. Citizens Advice was one of them. I was immediately interested as it sounded like we would be able to gain experience across various fields.
Tell us about your role at the charity and how it relates to your studies?
I am currently a Level 3 Advisor, which means I deal with telephone and e-mail enquiries that come in through our CAWS website. Law is a very theoretical study and this has been my first environment where I have been able to advise people in a practical capacity.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
It might sound simple but to talk to people. I like cheering others up in conversation and to truly feel like I am making a difference in someone’s life. I especially enjoy being in the office with my co-workers. They are all lovely people who care immensely about your well-being.
Have you gained any skills since volunteering?
My interpersonal skills have improved drastically. I feel like I listen better. I also learned how to react compassionately but not overly emotionally. Not to mention all the information we gain throughout the course of advising people!
What has been the most valuable part of your volunteering experience?
Cheesy but true, making a difference. I love receiving emails back that tell me I have helped clients resolve their situation. For many people, contacting us is their last resort. Especially if they cannot afford to go anywhere else. Providing a family with a safe place for the night or food for the day is unbelievably rewarding.
How have you found volunteering remotely?
I personally volunteer mostly in-person, as I really wanted some human contact again after a long period of lockdown. I have worked remotely on a number of occasions and I have definitely missed the support you get when you are in the office.
What would you say to other students considering volunteering for CAWS?
I would say, don’t hesitate and apply. Even if you might feel a “true” law clinic would be a better choice, the level of knowledge you gain at CAWS, all the different issues you get to advise on + the lovely environment that you get to work in makes it a great place to gain real-life experience!
If you’re interested in volunteering, click here.