FAQs

This page should answer your immediate questions about CAB volunteering.

If you’ve already decided to volunteer, please fill in your details on our volunteer application form

NOTE: Due to the high volume of expressions of interest we receive on a weekly basis it may take some time for us to process these requests.  We thank you for your patience and will be in touch as soon as possible.

How do I apply?

You will need to complete an application form which you can access here

You can either download the application form and return it to Patricia Adamson via email to p.adamson@bcabs.org.uk or by posting it to Patricia Adamson, Citizens Advice Birmingham, Gazette Buildings, 168 Corporation Street, Birmingham, B4 6TF.

I have a disability, can I still volunteer?

We pride ourselves on the levels of support and encouragement all our volunteers receive. We recognise that some people will need more support than others and we offer additional help to enable people to reach their full potential.   All our recruitment staff are focused on matching the individual to the right volunteering role, so please discuss your particular needs with them. 


Every volunteer is supported by a named supervisor who will work with you to ensure that you are supported to achieve your true potential and that any issues identified are dealt with promptly.  You will be supported to undertake all the training relevant to your role.

We strive to ensure that premises and equipment are as accessible as possible.


Citizens Advice also provides support and networking through Disabled People Creating Change (DPCC). This provides a voice for people with disabilities within the service and acts as a resource for disability-related issues, providing information, training and support. More information on joining the group can be found on CABLink in the bureau.

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

Yes, but remember the application form and interview is a two-way process. It enables us to find out more about you, to ensure that you are suitable for the role, but also enables you to ensure that the volunteering opportunity meets your needs and interests.

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

One of the strengths of the CAB service is the diverse range of backgrounds, skills and experiences our volunteers bring to their roles.  

If you feel that you have skills that would be particularly useful to us then please mention these on your application form.

Are there certain skills I need to be a CAB volunteer?

It will depend on which role you are interested in.

All advisers receive comprehensive free training so do not need any previous qualifications or experience. However, you will need to be open-minded, non-judgemental, be willing to learn, and work as part of a team.

As advice work involves researching and explaining information, and completing case notes, it is important that you are able to speak, read and write English to the required standard. This will be assessed as part of the selection process, and if you have difficulties with this, we may suggest you consider another volunteering opportunity within the bureau.

Our bureaux are learning environments and volunteering in any role will give you the chance to develop your skills.
 

What will I get out of CAB volunteering?

All our volunteers get something slightly different from the experience.

Some of the most common benefits reported are:
• making a difference to an individual’s life
• changing the way things work for the better
• receiving highly respected training
• getting invaluable work experience
• developing new skills
• putting existing skills to good use
• getting involved with the community
• making new friends

Do you provide training?

All advisers receive comprehensive free training, which is recognised and respected throughout the country. The training programme consists of observation, working through self-study packs, a training course run by Citizens Advice and ‘on the job’ supported learning and coaching.

You will be supported throughout your training by a dedicated supervisor, and are likely to complete at least parts of the training alongside other new volunteers.

We find that most people complete the adviser training programme in 6-12 months, although this will, of course, depend on how much time you are able to commit to it.

Other roles also benefit from on the job training.
 

Do you always need volunteers?

Yes.  Citizens Advice Birmingham needs around 200 new volunteers every year to meet the constant demand for advice.

Check which roles we are currently recruiting for by clicking here

What support will I get as a CAB volunteer?

All volunteers are fully supported and supervised throughout their involvement with CAB. 

There is a supervisor on duty at each advice session to guide and assist volunteer advisers.

We make sure that you are not put in situations that are beyond your abilities, and will work with you to help ensure that you find volunteering with us both challenging and rewarding.

How much time do I need to give?

This depends largely on the role you would like to volunteer in and the amount of training you will need. 

If you would like more information about this before you apply then please contact Patricia Adamson - Email: p.adamson@bcabs.org.uk / Tel: 0121 214 8343

When/what times can I volunteer?

Our City Centre Bureau is open during office hours.  You can check the bureau opening times here.

If you work full time and therefore are never available during the day it is unlikely you will be able to train as an adviser.  Other roles may be more flexible in the times that you can volunteer. Some roles even allow you to volunteer from home for part of the time, e.g. trustee, fundraiser, PR officer.  You can discuss the details with us when we contact you.

Will I get my expeneses paid?

We reimburse travel expenses for volunteers who live in Birmingham up to the value of £4.20 which is the equivalent of a WM Travel daysaver.

Are childcare costs covered?

No unfortunately we are unable to contribute towards childcare costs.

When can I start?

This depends on the availability of the role you have applied for.  We will generally want you to start as soon as possible.

If you are interested in training as an adviser, there may be a slight delay before we are able to take on new trainees – simply to ensure that you receive the highest quality training, support and personal attention. 

We aim to process all applications within 6-8 weeks.

What are the chances of getting a job afterwards?

50% of volunteers who leave us go on to paid employment.

CAB volunteering provides skills and experience that are valued by many employers. A lot of paid bureau staff, for example managers, case workers and administrators, started out as volunteers.

What age restrictions are there on CAB volunteering?

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

I work full time, can I still volunteer?

There may be some opportunities for evening and weekend work, such as fundraising, though volunteering as an adviser generally needs to be done during normal office hours.

Trustee board members tend to meet in the evenings so trusteeship can be particularly suitable for people who work full time.

What volunteering opportunities are there for students at CAB?

Many students (e.g. social policy and law) find CAB volunteering complements their course and provides them with valuable work skills for the future.

Email Patricia Adamson (Email: p.adamson@bcabs.org.uk) to find out how you can fit in your time with that of the bureau.

It is possible to move to another CAB elsewhere after you leave college.

Will volunteering at CAB affect my jobseeker's allowance?

CAB volunteering will not affect jobseeker's allowance (JSA) provided you:
• remain available for and are actively seeking a full time paid job
• take reasonable steps to find a job (e.g. answering adverts, signing up with an agency and taking other steps required by the Jobcentre Plus office)
• inform the Job Centre/ Jobcentre Plus office that you are volunteering
• can attend interview within 48 hours and take up work within one week.

 

The bureau can help you by providing a standard letter stating that you:
• receive no remuneration, only reimbursement of actual out-of-pocket expenses, which does not count towards the JSA ‘earnings disregard’
• can be contacted whilst volunteering at the bureau if a job opportunity becomes available
• can be available at a week’s notice to start work or attend an interview with 48 hours’ notice.
Volunteering should not affect income support as long as you are not receiving any money other than reimbursement of expenses.

Will volunteering for CAB affect my other benefits?

You should notify the relevant agency before starting at the bureau if you receive incapacity benefit (IB), severe disablement allowance, employment and support allowance (ESA), carer’s allowance, industrial injuries disablement benefit, or invalid care allowance (ICA).

ICA is not affected by volunteering unless it prevents you providing care for at least 35 hours each week. There is no limit to the number of hours someone can volunteer whilst in receipt of IB, though in the past some benefits agencies have claimed that volunteers who volunteer regularly and for a substantial (in their view) amount of time could be seen as fit for work.

ESA was introduced on 27 October 2008 and, for new claimants, replaces both IB and income support paid because of disability or incapacity (although all claimants will be reassessed for ESA by spring 2014). The regulations for ESA clearly state that claimants will be allowed to volunteer. The regulations also recognise that reasonable expenses can be reimbursed to claimants who volunteer.

Bureaux can help by providing you with a letter confirming the number of hours you volunteer, that these hours are unpaid, and that volunteering is far more flexible and 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.