Our Volunteers are an integral part of the service and we couldn’t reach as many clients as we do without them. They are all amazing, and these are just some of their stories on what it’s like to volunteer at CAL.
Q&A with Aaliyah (Telephone Assessor)
Meet Aaliyah! She initially joined CAL as a Volunteer and we are happy to say that this year she moved into a paid role with us. Find out a bit more about her journey and why she decided to volunteer below:
What were you doing before volunteering at Citizens Advice Lewisham (CAL)?
I was studying Law at St Mary’s University in Twickenham. I found out about the volunteering opportunities at Citizens Advice from the Careers Service. The more I heard about working in the advice sector, the more I thought: “This is the right move for me.”
How have you enjoyed training and volunteering at CAL?
It was during lockdown and our training and induction took place over Zoom. The training is very in depth and interactive, and gives you everything you need for the role. I love helping people on Lewisham Advice Line – we can help with a huge range of issues, and we make a big difference in the lives of our clients, who otherwise might not have access to vital information and advice. I particularly enjoyed helping a client navigate the Gov.uk website, because I was able to give them enough support to use it again next time without assistance.
How has volunteering made a difference in your life?
Through my volunteering I have been able to move into employment after securing a paid role at CAL off the back of my volunteering experience. I found my volunteering experience was invaluable when interviewing, because I had accumulated so many real life experiences of helping clients. When I started in my paid role, I already knew how to deal with tough calls, and felt prepared.
How would you describe your experience volunteering at CAL?
You learn so much, and you’ll be surprised how the things you take onboard can help you in your own life, in addition to the help you can give clients.
Norrie’s Story (Telephone Assessor)
Norrie graduated from SOAS last summer after completing an undergrad degree in History and Economics. Feeling lost after graduating, Norrie said, “I have never known what I wanted to do and was overwhelmed not knowing where to focus my efforts. I thought starting to volunteer somewhere might help me to figure [it out].”
With an interest in law, Norrie’s friend encouraged her to look into volunteering with Citizens Advice, which is where Norrie came across the Volunteer Receptionist role. She applied and was accepted onto our training programme.
Norrie said, “When I started volunteering at Citizens Advice Lewisham (CAL), I worked on the reception in the Drop In Hub. This involved welcoming clients and recording some of their basic information on our case management system.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Norrie has upskilled to become a Volunteer Telephone Assessor. She completed additional training and has progressed to taking calls on the Lewisham Advice Line. In the role she explores the client’s query and provides assisted information; if if the query is complex she will signpost the client to another organisation that can help, or book the client an appointment with an in-house Adviser.
She has found volunteering a valuable experience: “I had been struggling with a lack of confidence in myself after uni because all job adverts seem to want you to have years of experience to get an entry level position. I had started to believe I was unable to do anything and this was making it harder to try and sell myself in applications and interviews. But the support that I received during training was so much more than I’d imagined! [Since upskilling to become a Volunteer Telephone Assessor] I have felt more confident in my abilities again.”
Norrie continues to volunteer on the Lewisham Advice Line as a Telephone Assessor for two days per week. She would recommend volunteering at CAL to others. “It’s easy to see the positive results which is really rewarding.”
Find out more about our current volunteer roles and how to apply here.