How much time do I need to spend volunteering each week?
The minimum amount of time we are looking for is explained in the role descriptions for each of our opportunities. Most of our roles support our core services, which are open to the public from 10am to 4pm, five days a week. For these roles we are looking for volunteers who are able to be with us for at least one day per week, 3-5 hours per day. Our volunteers are typically with us for one day per week or more.
For other roles, the amount of time we are looking for varies, but is usually flexible to suit your other commitments.
We agree days and times with you, and these can be changed if needed. If for any reason you’re unable to attend we ask you let your team know.
We can be flexible, and can accommodate most schedules – so let us know what you can do and we will take it from there!
Can I do more than one role?
Yes. We ask you to complete the training for the role you initially apply for, but after that and when the opportunity is available, you can apply to start in a different role. You can do any number of the roles at once. Many volunteers start in one role and move on to others.
What training and development opportunities are there for volunteers?
All our roles involve comprehensive initial training to get you ready to go. The amount of training varies, but always involves a mix of online and classroom training, and close support from your supervisor. There are other opportunities to attend training relevant to your role, either delivered by in-house experts or through national Citizens Advice.
I’m disabled — can I still volunteer?
Yes, definitely. We ask volunteers to tell us about any disabilities on their application form. We will make reasonable adjustments wherever we can, though unfortunately because of the limitations of our office space, not all roles in all locations are available to everyone.
Our Adviceline service is based on the first floor of our office in Mitcham.
Is the training accredited?
Most of our roles support our core services, and all of these roles involve a learning programme developed using the Citizens Advice training materials. If you finish the learning programme, you’ll get a certificate of competence from Citizens Advice which is recognised in the sector as an advice qualification. Our training for roles involving debt advice is accredited by the Money Advice Service.
I have to pick up my children after school – can I fit this in?
Yes, absolutely. Many of our volunteers have to look after children or have other caring commitments, and this can easily be fitted in in most cases.
Do I have to volunteer for a whole day at a time?
No. Most of our volunteering roles require 3-5 hours on at least one day during the week. Our services are busiest in the morning and early in the week, and so in some roles a 9.45am start time is preferred, but not essential.
If you are free only in the afternoon, volunteering with our Adviceline team might be the best for you, as the phone lines are busy for the whole day.
I can’t volunteer on the same day each week – is this okay?
Yes, that’s fine. We ask people to be organised and to communicate with us so we know what to expect, but lots of volunteers volunteer on different days each week.
Can volunteering lead to employment?
Volunteering is a great way to build skills, experience and confidence. Many volunteers tell us many tell us that their experience has been helpful in securing a job. Our training is recognised by the sector and is a helpful qualification if you are looking to get into advice work.
All jobs at CAML or at Citizens Advice are openly recruited. We encourage applications from our volunteers, but no special preference is given to volunteers in our recruitment process.
Can I volunteer in the evening or at weekends?
At the moment all of our services are delivered during the working week and during the day, and so the majority of volunteering roles are not available in the evenings.
Can I leave if it doesn’t work out?
Volunteering is not an obligation and if it turns out not to be for you, you can simply stop doing it. We hope that this does not happen, and we will always look to find an opportunity in a different role or to address the challenges, but there’s no pressure to stay with us if you don’t want to.
Will my expenses be covered?
We cover your out-of-pocket travel expenses only, usually up to a limit of £7.70 per day. Exceptions to this limit can be made in some circumstances, such as additional travel costs caused by disability. You’ll need to have receipts which we will reimburse, and we ask you to take a reasonably cost-effective method of transport.
What if I have to take a break?
Volunteering is not an obligation and you can take a break whenever you want to. It is helpful to us if you are able to keep us informed, but we understand if you need some time out. Many volunteers need to look after children during the holidays, for example, or take breaks for exams or coursework if they are studying. If you take a break of more than 5-6 months, we may ask you to re-do some of the training.
Can I claim benefits and volunteer?
If you are receiving certain state benefits you might have a responsibility to inform the relevant agency before you start volunteering.
You can volunteer with us and still receive Job-Seekers allowance, provided that you are still looking for paid work, are available for work for 40 hours each week (or less by agreement with the Job Centre if you have caring responsibilities, inform the Job Centre that you are volunteering, can take up work within a week and can attend an interview on 48 hours notice.
You should notify the relevant agency before starting with us if you receive Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Employment Support Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or Carers Allowance.
We can help you by providing a standard letter to the DWP stating that you only receive actual out-of-pocket expenses, no pay, can be contacted whilst volunteering with us if a job opportunity becomes available, can be available to attend an interview or that your volunteering is flexible and is not the same as paid work.
Some benefits that are not affected by volunteering and where the relevant agencies do not need to be informed at all. These include: State Retirement Pension, Pension Credit, Council Tax support, Housing Benefit, Statutory Maternity pay, Maternity Allowance, War Widow’s Pension and Widow’s Pension.
If you are unsure about your situation, ask us!
How long do I need to volunteer for?
We invest in volunteer training and support, and so we are looking for people who can volunteer for at least 3-6 months, more for some roles. The amount of time taken to train varies according to the role, and is specified on the role descriptions for each opportunity.