What our volunteers do
The descriptions below give a brief outline of what our main roles involve and what skills we look for when recruiting volunteers. Our application process starts with an informal interview where we discuss your skills, interests, experience and availability, so if you have any questions or need more information, it's best to send in your application and speak to our volunteer coordinator.
Volunteer advisers receive full training in the skills needed to help people deal with their problems. Advisers are supported and supervised as they begin to give advice and will get feedback and development opportunities throughout their time with us. There are a variety of tasks involved in giving advice, but volunteer advisers typically help people by:
- finding out the key points of their problem
- researching the issues and working out the options available to resolve the problem
- helping them understand these options and take action if they lack capability
- creating a record of the advice given to ensure accuracy and continuity if they need ongoing support.
- identifying and reporting issues that might affect other people in similar circumstances.
You don’t need specific qualifications or experience to train for the role, but you need:
- an ability to understand complex information
- to be polite and good at listening
- to be comfortable using the internet and reference books to conduct research
- to be able to input data accurately
- a good level of literacy and numeracy
- to be open minded and non-judgemental
- to enjoy helping people.
Being a telephone assessor is a diverse role and you’ll not be expected to know it all, as they work closely with our staff to help clients who contact our call centre. Training involves observing other volunteers, taking supported calls and completing a short online course. Being a telephone assessor is an ideal role if you can't commit enough time train as an adviser or if you want an introduction to the work that we do. As a telephone assessor you:
- are the first point of contact for clients
- help with a wide range of problems and issues our clients face
- support the general public across all ages and backgrounds
- give information using online resources
- arrange for clients to access specialist advice when needed
- keep records of your calls.
You don't need specific qualifications or experience to train for the role. You need to:
- be good at listening
- have a good telephone manner
- be confident inputting data
- maintain case records
- be open minded and not judge clients
- enjoy helping people.
This is a similar role to that of the Telephone Assessor, but on a face-to-face basis. You will be the first point of contact often for some of the most vulnerable clients who need advice on a diverse range of issues, as well as practical help including accessing online facilities, completing forms and contacting 3rd parties on clients' behalf. Training will be provided and you will always have support from staff.
You will need the same skills and approach as for the telephone assessor.
Some advisers choose to specialise in helping clients complete application forms for welfare benefits and charitable grants. It takes less time to train as a form filler and this role might suit you if you have limited time to commit but want to work with people in a way that makes an impact, as it's often our most vulnerable clients who need this service.