Here is a flavour of what a volunteer adviser might experience on a typical day:
The day’s appointments (45 minutes each) are allocated between advisers. Other clients who drop in during the day are seen as soon as possible. One colleague is on the phone, taking calls from people seeking advice. Some of these clients will be helped over the phone, others will have face to face appointments booked for them at their nearest Citizens Advice Office.
Before I see my first client I read through the background notes and check whether we need to update the client’s consent to discuss and record information which we need in order to advise them. A client may not see the same adviser each time they come, so we keep clear and concise records of all client interviews to ensure that every adviser who sees that client can give accurate and comprehensive advice.
Having welcomed my client and taken them to a private room, we talk through their situation, look up information or make phone calls as necessary, discuss the options and how they would like Citizens Advice to help, then agree next steps. If necessary, I will book another appointment for the client and then return to the office to write up the case notes.
Another client who we have been helping to access benefits has no money until next week. She has dropped in as she has run out of food for her children and has no one to turn to. We organise a food parcel to help her through.
I am asked to see the next client who has dropped in to ask if we can help with some information. I show them where to look on the Citizens Advice public website and they make a note of the web address https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk so that they can access it again when they get home.
Citizens Advice advisers never tell clients what to do, our aim is always to support clients and empower them to manage their own lives. If we can’t offer answers or support because the client’s problem is caused by an unfair legal or administrative hurdle, we will collect evidence of the impact this has on clients and campaign for change.
Another session has ended and local people have been helped by our team of advisers, supervisors, receptionists, telephone assessors and administrators
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