Volunteering with North Ayrshire Citizens Advice can be hugely rewarding. But don't take our word for it - here's what our current volunteers say about their time volunteering with us!

Linda

I began volunteering on 1st March 2017 as a generalist adviser. I had been aware of the work of NACAS for a number of years having lived and worked locally. After retiring, I felt that I could use my experience to help people manage their many issues in life.

Background and Experience

I was employed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and its predecessors for over 40 years until my retirement in early 2017. I worked in benefits for many years until Jobcentre Plus came into being in 2002 when I transferred to the Jobcentre. I was employed as a manager in Jobcentres in Saltcoats, Greenock and Kilbirnie. In this role, I was responsible for Work Coaches who worked with people on JSA, ESA, IS and Universal Credit. It was a very varied and challenging job and 2 days were never the same. To provide excellent customer service was always my priority.

My favourite thing about volunteering

I am enjoying my volunteering role and although there are some similarities to my previous job, I am really enjoying learning new areas and find it all very interesting.

What I have learned

I am currently going through the adviser training so am learning a huge amount of new information. I am very impressed with the depth of training the Adviser Training Programme (ATP) has to offer along with Advisernet, the system for obtaining guidance in every conceivable situation.

Blair

 I began volunteering in September 2015. I visited the Saltcoats and Irvine Bureau and decided I wanted to get involved with the Citizen’s Advice Service.

Background and Experience

Prior to joining NACAS I worked for HMRC for over 36 years dealing with self-assessment, PAYE, tax credits, child benefit, national insurance and construction industry enquiries when the public came into the Ayr and Irvine Enquiry Offices. In July 2014 I was made redundant from HMRC as all the Enquiry Centres all over the UK were to be shut down. I was unemployed from July 2014 to September and had been for a couple of interviews but failed to find employment. I felt I still had something to offer and that my skills and experience would be of use to the Citizen’s Advice Service.

My Key Responsibilities

I volunteer at the Salctoats Bureau 3 days a week. On Mondays and Thursdays, which are drop in days, I deal with all types of enquiries: benefits, employment, consumer, family issues, utilities, debts etc.The thing I like about Mondays and Thursdays you never know what type of case you are going to be dealing with.

On Fridays which is an appointment day I help clients with PIP applications ESA forms and also Attendance Allowance and also advise client’s about mandatory reconsideration and appeals as well.

I enjoy doing this as well as a lot of the time clients do not realise they are entitled to these benefits and gives them that extra helping hand when they need it.

My favourite thing about volunteering

The things I like about being a volunteer is when a client tells you after they have put in a mandatory reconsideration or an appeal that they have been awarded a benefit and you have taken a lot of worry or stress away from them.

What I have learned

I have learned all about the benefits that clients can claim for and how they can claim for them.

I have also learned in Employment cases how clients who have a problem at work can take out a grievance procedure and how clients can take an Employer to an Employment Tribunal and the time limits for this.

I have learned all about debts cases and filling in all the paperwork for this and arranging an appointment with the money advice team and also about sending a referral to the Better Off North Ayrshire Team(BONA).

I have also learned in consumer cases if they are having problems with a trader what action can be taken to resolve the matter.

I have learned that if client needs legal advice then I give them a list of the local solicitors and the services that they provide.

I have also learned in emergency situations how to apply for a crisis loan with North Ayrshire Scottish Welfare fund and how to get food parcels and how to get credit on their gas and electricity meters.

I have also learned all about Universal Credit and how this will impact on the Bureau.

I have also become a mentor and have enjoyed shadowing trainees and also taking them through supported interviews and am glad several trainees have now moved on to solo interviews and has given me a great deal of satisfaction that I been able to pass on my skills and experience to them.

I have enjoyed on a personal note getting to know all the trainees, volunteers and staff members in the Bureau.

While you're here...

…could you help us out? The citizens of North Ayrshire continue to face challenging conditions; unemployment, financial struggles coupled with the rising everyday cost of living is causing an increase in our service demand with clients presenting complex and interrelated issues.

We are a not for profit charity and are purely focused on the benefits for our clients. We believe everyone should have access to well informed, free advice, whenever they need it but with funding streams across the sector reducing, coupled with increased competition, it is proving difficult for us to ensure we can deliver our vital service. So you can start to see why we need to ask for your help.

Our service provision takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. While we are volunteer led, there are still costs associated with ensuring we provide an accessible service but we do it because we want to provide an outlet that makes a real difference.

If everyone who supports our service and who likes it, helps fund it – our future would be more secure. For as little as £1, you can make a real difference. Giving a little can make a big impact.

Donate to us through BT MyDonate