No such thing as a ‘silly question’
Its only natural that you may have some questions to ask us about volunteering. We’ve put together a list of some of the most common things we get asked.
If you have a question that we haven’t covered here then you can send us an email with your query to firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please note this is not an advice e-mail and we aim to respond to any questions within 72 hours)
Some answers you may find useful
Q – Do Citizens Advice pay expenses for volunteers?
A – Yes. We don’t want anybody to be out of pocket as a result of their volunteering. Many of our volunteers do claim expenses back, some choose not to. We will reimburse parking costs and can cover travel to and from the bureau by public transport. All major bus routes stop in front of Acorn House.
Q – Does that include mileage?
A – Yes. We reimburse people for mileage at the HMRC rate – currently 45p per mile. Please note that we can only cover journeys made within a 20 mile radius of our main office at Acorn House.
Q – Is there dedicated parking at Acorn House?
A – No. Acorn House has a very small car park at the rear of the building with approximately 12 spaces. This is permit only parking and monitored by a private company. Anyone parking without a permit is likely to receive a penalty.
Q – Do I need formal qualifications to be a volunteer?
A – No, not all. We are proud to have volunteers from different backgrounds who all have different experiences. There are a variety of roles that will suit a range of different interests and skills. Details can be found on our page about volunteering roles by clicking here.
Q – What happens after I submit an application form?
A – We will look through your application details and contact you with a date to attend a recruitment session. Most recruitment sessions consist of a presentation about the work of Citizens Advice, the chance to listen in on a live advice telephone call with one of our staff and a short computer based exercise.
Q – Is there an interview?
A – Yes. We will invite you back for an interview on a separate day.
Q – What is the training like?
A – Parts of the training will vary depending on which role you decide to apply for.
Everybody has an induction and an overview of our main systems, procedures and services – to complete all this can take most new volunteers between 4 – 6 weeks. Some people prefer to do more than 8 hours per week initially to get through the basic training quicker.
Training is delivered through a variety of methods – about 50% is observation based or ‘shadowing’ of experienced volunteers. The rest is made up of some internet based activities called ‘e-learning‘ and some class room based sessions or ‘workshops’.
Q – Are there tests or exams that I have to do?
A – No. Trainees all have a learning record that we need you to complete as you move through the induction phase but it’s not a test of your knowledge. This record is evidence that we have put you through a structured training program and is a place for you to consolidate most of your initial learning. Once this is signed off you are then able to begin working directly with clients.
Q – What happens if I want to change the role that I am doing?
A – People often start in one role and change later on when they have become more familiar with the bureau or develop an interest in a particular aspect of our work. All volunteers can discuss their progress with our Guidance Tutor who is responsible for the training and development needs of all volunteers and staff.
Q – How many hours do I have to volunteer a week?
A – Most people volunteer around 8 hours per week, some choose to do a bit more depending on their circumstances.
Q – Can I do less than 8 hours?
A – We don’t recommend it on a regular basis as it can be hard to retain knowledge or progress your development when you volunteer for less hours.
Q – What happens if I can’t come in for a shift or I need to take holiday?
A – Not a problem. We aim to be as flexible as possible. All we ask is that volunteers give us as much notice as possible if they are going to be away, this helps us plan the staffing for each day appropriately.