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Volunteering from Barrow for Citizens Advice Charnwood

When I applied to become an advisor at Charnwood Citizens Advice Bureau in 1999, I never imagined that I would still be there almost eighteen years later. I remember thinking that I may be joining a 'jolly band of do-gooders' comprising retired solicitors, teachers and other revered professionals. Well, this is partly true, we do have many retired professionals, but our volunteers come from every walk of life and ethnic background. It's the ‘do-gooders’ part that is inaccurate.

Our volunteers are committed and professional individuals who collectively give over 13,000 hours per year worth in excess of £213.000. We also provide endless empathy and patience in the continuous quest of problem-solving. 157 residents from the Barrow & Sileby West Ward used the service in 2016/17, raising 295 Advice issues.

I have often encountered misguided comments from people who think we only encounter clients with debts and benefit claims. True, our statistics reflect these are areas of great demand. However, if anyone reading this can think of a problem, we deal with it. Whether, it's a relationship breakdown, an un-roadworthy vehicle, discrimination in the workplace, issues at school or internet fraud. I could go on but the editor may not have room!

Our clients and volunteers are treated in a confidential manner, which is why I am unable to name the volunteers who currently reside in Barrow. However, some of you may remember the late Harold Mitchell who was our Lollipop Man at the corner of South St and Mill Lane. Harold spent a number of years manning our reception-desk at our former bureau at John Storer House. We are now located at Woodgate Chambers which is part of the former Magistrates Court. We were also lucky enough to have a wonderful Money Advice supervisor who is a Barrow resident. She devoted many years to CAB before retiring a couple of years ago.
I still employ the common sense and practical approach to debt advice that she instilled in me all those years ago.

We currently have several volunteers who live in Barrow who wouldn't hesitate to tell you how rewarding it is to be part of Charnwood Citizens’ Advice. We are an amazing, dedicated team who support each other in addition to providing our clients with accurate, impartial free advice. Please take a moment to consider these statistics: 42% of issues related to benefits; 31% to debt: 11% to employment. You may find them surprising.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, whether as an advisor, receptionist, fund raiser or IT expert, you will receive a warm welcome - as does each client who walks through our door requiring help.

Jill Butler