The CAB service is independent and provides free, confidential and impartial advice to help people resolve their legal, money, consumer and other problems. CAB advice is available to everybody, regardless of race, sex, disability, sexuality or nationality. Citizens Advice Bureaux form the largest free advice-giving network in the UK and every CAB is a registered charity. The service has over 21,000 trained volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. CAB advice is provided regularly from nearly 3,400 locations - from urban and rural bureaux, in people's homes, at outreach sessions in community venues, on the phone and some bureaux also provide email advice. Our advisers help people resolve nearly six million problems every year. Our main areas of enquiry include debt, housing, employment and benefits, but the one thing all our volunteer advisers find rewarding is the wide variety of enquiries and people they deal with every day. Volunteer advisers give information and advice to clients on a very wide range of queries and problems. They also provide practical help, for example, by writing letters, making phone calls or negotiating on clients' behalf, representing clients at tribunals and carrying out specialist casework.
A Chippy volunteer describes what's involved.....
On arriving just after 9am, I start by renewing acquaintances with fellow volunteers who regularly attend on the same day � we all do one day a week. Volunteers come from many varied backgrounds. Many bring along recollections and life stories that would grace any stage, screen or paperback. It all makes for an enjoyable and interesting day, In addition, there�s the assorted plethora of home made cakes, biscuits and holiday destination foods to tempt me throughout the day. I start by checking the �case sheet follow up� folder. This records any correspondence with cases I�m are particularly involved with. This can include debt cases, client feedback or notes from �case sheet� checkers � these notes ensure that we comply with the auditors and legal services commission guidelines.Once the bureau is open, I either work on the telephone or meet clients face to face. Here, I use all the skills I�ve acquired through the thorough training programme. This includes general people skills as well as specific knowledge areas. When I�ve gained as much information as possible about a client�s problem, I discuss all the possible options with a senior advisor before presenting these to the client for consideration. I often continue working with clients throughout the case, doing things like follow up interviews, referrals or negotiation on the client�s behalf. It�s great to know that the help and advice I�ve provided has made a real difference to someone. I�ve also involved myself in another aspect of running the bureau through the Board of Trustees. Other volunteers get involved with social policy, fundraising, administration, or become specialist advisers. Having never worked in an office, I am pleasantly surprised to find that office small talk and coffee making does not pass without some form of gentle ribbing or banter breaking into proceedings. They say �all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy�. I feel that I�m not just an advisor, but a member of a family that�s constantly changing, adapting and progressing with the challenges that visit the bureau every day. If you�d like to find out more about volunteering, please contact Liz Pride on , email her at , or drop in for a chat.