Will I have to complete an application form/have an interview?

All volunteers are required to complete an application form, the form differs from a job application form because we require its completion not to assess your ability to meet the criteria of an advertised post, but to give you an opportunity to tell us about your skills and the roles you’ve undertaken in both paid and unpaid capacities. We want you to tell us about all your skills and this includes those outside of employment for example, as a carer or via your involvement in social groups. The volunteer application form enables us to find out more about you and that the volunteering opportunity for which you’ve applied meets your needs and interests and that you can meet the commitment required to perform the roles you are interested in.

We conduct group interviews for all our volunteer roles, which is not only an opportunity for us to ask you questions but also for you to learn more about Citizens Advice Bournemouth and be sure we are somewhere you would like to join

How much time will I need to commit to volunteering with your Citizens Advice?

Time committed to volunteering with your local Citizens Advice will be dependent upon the role that a volunteer chooses to undertake with Citizens Advice Bournemouth but we usually as for one full day a week or two half days depending on your other commitments.

If you cannot meet the required commitment for the roles you have expressed an interest in, we may suggest other roles to you.

I’ve got specific skills and experience can you use them?

One of the advantages of volunteering with the Citizens Advice service is our strong ethos of drawing volunteers from diverse range of backgrounds, who bring to their role skills and experience that are invaluable to the work of bureaux. See Volunteer roles for further details of how your skills and experiences might fit into the roles we offer.

Do I require specific skills to volunteer with you?

It will depend on which role you are interested in. Some roles require specific skills, However in many of our roles we do not ask for specific skills as we will develop these through training and support.

For all roles we are looking at attitudes as well as skills, we require you to be open-minded, non-judgemental, and be able to listen, learn and work in a team.

Will I get my expenses paid?

Citizens Advice Bournemouth reimburses volunteers for reasonable ‘out-of- pocket’ expenses for travelling to the office (parking is not included). Lunch will be reimbursed when a volunteer attends external training events where lunch is not provided.

What age restrictions are there on volunteering with you?

Volunteers need to be 16 years or over. There is no upper age limit for volunteers.

Will volunteering with you affect my Jobseeker’s Allowance?

If you are receiving certain state benefits you might have a responsibility to inform the relevant agency before you start volunteering. Volunteering with us will not affect Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) PROVIDED YOU:

  • Take reasonable steps to find a job (e.g. answering advertisements, signing up with any agency, and taking other steps required by the Job Centre)
  • Can be available for work for 40 hours each week
  • Inform the Job Centre that you are volunteering
  • Can take up work or attend interview within 48 hours.

We can help you by providing a standard letter stating that you:

  • Don’t get paid, only reimbursed actual out-of-pocket expenses
  • Can be contacted whilst volunteering at the bureau if a job opportunity becomes available
  • Can be available at a certain period of notice to start work or attend an interview (must be less than 48 hours).

Will volunteering with Citizens Advice affect my other benefits?

You should notify the relevant agency before starting at the bureau if you receive Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or Carers Allowance. We can help you by providing a standard letter confirming:

  • Numbers of hours volunteering undertaken with the bureau
  • Hours spent volunteering at the bureau are unpaid
  • Flexibility of volunteering i.e. it cannot be regarded as the same as paid work.

There are some benefits that are not affected by volunteering and where the relevant agencies do not need to be informed that the person is volunteering. These include: State Retirement Pension, Council Tax benefit, Housing Benefit, Statutory Maternity pay, Maternity Allowance, War Widow’s Pension and Widow’s Pension.

Will I have to complete DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service)?

We do not currently ask for a DBS check but this may alter depending on changes in local or national policy.

I work full time, can I still volunteer?

The bureau’s normal working hours are 9am – 4pm Monday-Friday, and volunteer opportunities within the bureau will usually be limited to these hours. We may ask for help with evening sessions that we run and Trustee Board meetings usually take place after 6pm. Therefore, for those working weekdays, the range of volunteer opportunities will be limited.