Volunteer Interview: Clare
Clare is a journalist and she’s been volunteering with Citizens Advice Barnet since 2017.
- What is your role at Citizens Advice Barnet?
I started as a generalist adviser, then I did stints at Help to Claim, with the EU settlement scheme team, and at Chipping Barnet food bank. And, now, I’m back to being a generalist adviser. I use the same skills but at different levels – the food bank was at the triage level, HTC and EUSS was at the more procedural level although could always throw up some surprises, and as a generalist adviser, I provide more in-depth help.
- Why do you volunteer at Citizens Advice Barnet?
In general, I volunteer because there’s a connection with wider society in contrast to my normal job. I think it provides a really important service – helping people navigate the complicated benefits system and other bureaucracy, helping their problems seem less overwhelming. I also like the variety (of clients and issues) and the fact that I’m constantly learning.
- Is there anything you’ve done while volunteering with us that you’re particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of having been involved in the resumption of CA outreach services at Chipping Barnet Food Bank a year ago. It was eye-opening and rewarding to work at the ‘coal face’ of need, and to be able to engage people who otherwise wouldn’t be aware of/think of accessing CA services. I remember especially one young woman to whom I explained various extra benefits and grants she could get to help with lack of electricity meter credit and inability to buy food for herself and her young daughter: I suddenly realised she was crying and demanded to know why. ‘It’s from relief,’ she said.
- What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering at CAB?
I would thoroughly recommend it. It’s a supportive atmosphere to work in, it’s very rewarding, and the work is interesting and varied.
I think [Citizens Advice Barnet] provides a really important service - helping people navigate the complicated benefits system and other bureaucracy, helping their problems seem less overwhelming.