It’s Volunteers’ Week 2016! Over 21 million people volunteer in the UK at least once a year and this contributes an estimated £23.9bn to the UK economy. Behind these big numbers is a big contribution.
The theme of Volunteers’ Week 2016 is “The Big Celebration”, so each day Community Action Suffolk is celebrating some of Suffolk’s amazing volunteers and the organisations they support.
The Citizens Advice service is the UK’s largest advice charity, offering information and advice face to face, via the telephone and email as well as online. Local Citizens Advice make advice available from over 3500 locations in England and Wales including high streets, community centres, doctors’ surgeries, courts and prisons.
Every year the service helps over 2 million people with more than 7 million problems relating to issues including debt, benefits, employment, housing and immigration. We also use clients’ stories anonymously to campaign for policy changes that benefit the population as a whole. There are over 21,500 volunteers in the Citizens Advice service – 77 per cent of all workers who give over £110 million worth of hours a year between them.
At Sudbury Citizens Advice we have 49 volunteers involved in a wide range of roles including administrators, receptionists, advisers, gateway assessors, trustees, fundraisers, financial capability trainers, IT coordinators, media publicity worker, research and campaigns, and recruitment workers.
Our volunteers are vital in the provision of the service and without them we simply would not be able to help as many people as we do. But the value to society of Citizens Advice volunteering is even greater than this as the continual investment in our volunteers’ development ensures our clients receive quality advice and support. It also has tangible benefits for the volunteers and society through happier, healthier and productive citizens.
If we didn’t have volunteers we simply could not provide the service that we do. Volunteers are vital to the way we deliver the service allowing us to reach many more people than if we were purely staff run. Furthermore, Citizens Advice volunteering provides individuals with an opportunity they might not otherwise have had to develop their personal skills and abilities.
We look after our volunteers by providing them with training and investment which enables them to make a huge contribution to the Citizens Advice service. In turn volunteers benefit from gaining new skills and personal development, better wellbeing and community engagement. Sufficient support and supervision is provided to enable volunteers to make the most of their time in Local Citizens Advice. There are regular workers’ meetings to allow volunteers to keep in touch, share experiences and participate in the development of the Local Citizens Advice office and raise any issues of concern. Expenses incurred in getting to and from the office are reimbursed so volunteers are not out of pocket and tea/coffee and biscuits are provided. Volunteers can be awarded certificates for long service, merit and recognition and the role of volunteers is celebrated every year.
This year we are holding a volunteers’ tea party in conjunction with the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations with some bubbly and cake, and the office will be decorated with balloons and bunting. We value our volunteers!
Find out more about Sudbury Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
Are you inspired to volunteer? Maybe you’re looking for more volunteers? Find out how CAS can help by exploring the “Volunteering and social action” section of this website (see the menu at the top of the page).
You can contact the CAS Volunteering Team on 01473 345400 or [email protected].uk