Oswestry Citizens Advice appeals for new volunteers

The Oswestry branch of Citizens Advice Shropshire is looking for new volunteers to boost its invaluable public service in the town and surrounding areas.

Members of the Oswestry team include, left to right, Hannah (volunteer), John (adviser), Helen (volunteer), Jackie Jeffrey (Chief Executive Officer), Alison Edwards (Advice Session Supervisor)
Members of the Oswestry team include, left to right, Hannah (volunteer), John (adviser), Helen (volunteer), Jackie Jeffrey (Chief Executive Officer), Alison Edwards (Advice Session Supervisor)

The Oswestry team is inviting potential recruits from all backgrounds and experience to sign up for an open day on September 12th at its Arthur Street office to find out more about the volunteer role.

The day will include an outline of the nationally recognised Citizens Advice training, the roles available for volunteers and the chance to meet existing volunteers and staff.

Advice Session Supervisor, Alison Edwards, who herself started as a volunteer with Citizens Advice, said volunteers were at the heart of the service.

“It an incredibly rewarding role. It’s about offering a person someone to turn to when they have nowhere else to go. To have someone say that they can help you when you are in that situation is invaluable.

“We have a very thorough training programme and it can be a great stepping stone to employment because of the experience and skills it gives you. And in return for a commitment to one day a week you can really make a difference to people’s lives,” she said

The volunteer appeal comes as Citizens Advice Shropshire joins the 80th birthday celebrations of the national Citizens Advice service.

It was set up in September 1939 on the first day of the Second World War, enabling towns and cities across the country to organise their own free and confidential advice service to local people.

The Oswestry bureau was established in December 1939 in Church Street. It became the Oswestry office of Citizens Advice Shropshire in 2004 and later moved to its current premises in Arthur Street, next door to the town’s library.

 The team includes nine volunteer receptionists, assessors and advisers and six staff including administrators and money advisers.

Last year alone the Oswestry branch of Citizens Advice Shropshire talked with 1,900 clients. It helped those clients to find a way forward as well as influencing policy to help the most vulnerable in society.

Now more volunteers from all ages, backgrounds and experience are needed to build up the team and meet client demand. 

Cris Willis, Citizens Advice Shropshire training supervisor, said the open day would give potential volunteers the chance to learn about the nationally recognised training and the commitment involved.

She said that there was no need for volunteers to have existing experience as full training and support would be given. New volunteers could start as assessors or disability benefit form-fillers after an initial training programme and then continue training within the role.

“We welcome volunteers from all walks of life and the open day gives everyone the opportunity to learn more about the Citizens Advice Service and the roles available for volunteers. The Oswestry team is really friendly and supportive and there will be lots of advice at the open day on what is involved and how rewarding the role can be.

“The initial volunteer training sessions involve two days per week for the first four weeks starting from October 7 at Oswestry. After that we ask that volunteers give a minimum of six hours a week to complete their training and take on their new roles,” she said.

If you would like to book a place at the open day, which includes lunch, on Thursday, September 12th contact Cris(CRCT) Willis at training@shropshirecab.cabnet.org.uk, take a look at the website at www.cabshropshire.org.uk or call in at the Oswestry office in Arthur Street which is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

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