Bureau looks for volunteers

Few things in life demand little yet give a lot back – volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau might just be one of them.

The Cambridge CAB team wants to boost its numbers of volunteers as 2021 beds in. The need is always growing, says board member Peter Matthews, and there is little else out there that offers an opportunity to learn about governance while helping others for just a couple of hours a week.

Peter has been involved for a while, despite working fulltime in real estate.

“It gives me a great sense of personal satisfaction to know I am giving back to the community I have lived in for 25 years.  Besides, it’s not a big ask and it really does help keep you grounded.”

The role is straightforward. Once volunteers are trained and ready to go it alone, they are rostered to do a couple of hours a week at the Alpha St office.

They help callers and people dropping in navigate their way through a countless range of problems or enquiries, offering pathways to solutions through the organisation’s nationwide online resource.

“We don’t answer questions off the top of our heads,” said Peter. “Often, it is simply a case of people trying to find out who to approach regarding their particular query. We can direct them to the right place.  In many instances, we’re helping people who don’t have internet access and who don’t know where to find the information they’re seeking.”

There are 30 volunteers on the books.  Peter said another 10 would help offset absences or illness where volunteers might be called upon to do more than one shift a week.  Shifts are two-and-a-half hours, and are between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

They’re looking for diversity, he said, and are keen to get younger people involved.

“It’s a great opportunity for anyone keen to learn about governance and how things work in our society. You could end up being nominated to the Board, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have on your CV as you start your career.”

Those willing to get involved will go through an interview process, which includes a police check, and they will then be trained with other newcomers in four sessions over four weeks. They will then work with a mentor for a while before ‘going solo’, although there are always two volunteers on at the same time.

“Anyone is welcome to apply. It’s a simple and very satisfying way of helping the community … and we’re a really welcoming bunch!”

Call the CAB Cambridge office for more details – 07 827 4855.

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