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Volunteer for a rewarding experience


Former solicitor Adrian Brown started volunteering in April 2019 at Citizens Advice Westminster. He describes his role and experience and encourages others to follow his example.

Why did you choose Citizens Advice Westminster rather than any other charity?

Prior to volunteering, I worked as a claimant personal injury solicitor. However, during my training contract and for a few years after I qualified, I dealt with general civil litigation matters most of which were legally aided. I therefore felt that the skills I acquired during my time as a solicitor would transfer well to Citizens Advice and help support its core aims and principles. I was also keen to work for an organisation that was well recognised for the excellence of its service. It never entered my head to volunteer for another organisation.

What is your role?

I volunteer as a Gateway Assessor. This essentially involves me taking telephone calls from the general public and meeting them face to face at outreach sessions. I ascertain the client problem and what they would like to achieve. If I am able to give clients information to resolve their issue I will do. This sometimes involves me signposting or referring the client to other organisations. If the client needs advice that Citizens Advice can provide I will then arrange an appointment for them to see one our specialist advisers.

What satisfaction do you get from volunteering?

Volunteering at Citizens Advice has been a highly rewarding experience for me. It gives me an opportunity to give something back to the community. No two days are the same and you never know what the next enquiry will be when you pick up the telephone or meet someone “face to face”. Being able to help people, who are invariably struggling to cope, gives me great satisfaction. I have also expanded my knowledge base in numerous areas and in particular my understanding of the benefit system.

I also thoroughly enjoy the working environment at Citizens Advice. It is great working with like-minded individuals, who are all pushing in the same directions, to ensure that we achieve the best possible results for our clients.

What has been your most challenging assignment ?

This is a very difficult question. I find the “face to face” meetings with clients at the outreach sessions the most challenging. In addition to not having any idea what problem the client may have when the client sits down in front of you, you are often presented with lots of paperwork. Having to go through the paperwork, whilst the client is also explaining their problem, with the time constraints you are under at outreach sessions, is often very challenging.

How has volunteering here helped you in your career ?

I have now retired as a solicitor so volunteering has not had any impact on my career.

What would be your message to anyone thinking of volunteering at Citizens Advice Westminster?

If you are looking for a highly rewarding time, whilst working in a very friendly environment, then volunteering at the Citizens Advice cannot be bettered.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Citizens Advice and I’m proud to be associated with the organisation. The staff here could not have been more welcoming inclusive and I was very quickly made to feel part of the team.

To find our more about our volunteer opportunities go to our website:

Volunteering


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