Volunteering Q&As

What training and support do you provide?

This varies according to the role you have applied for. All volunteers complete the same induction programme and gain some experience volunteering in support roles initially. If you have applied for a gateway or adviser role, you will undertake a further period of learning to gateway level. After some experience in the gateway role, some assessors will undertake further learning for the adviser role.

Our training is a flexible mix of learning together in a group, independent study online, observation activities and online courses. We follow the Citizens Advice learning programme, which is a modular programme based on each role, and you will be supported by experienced supervisors throughout your training and beyond. We are all continual learners and opportunities for further learning and development are always available.

What skills and experience do I need?

Our volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures and bring a wealth of different skills, knowledge and experience with them. We celebrate the diversity of our volunteers, which reflects the community we serve. We do not prescribe any previous knowledge or experience, because we provide comprehensive training and support. A good level of written and spoken English is essential, and because much of the work we do is computer-based, the ability to work with confidence on a computer is needed.

The people who use our service bring an equally diverse range of experience and attributes, which may include mental and / or physical health conditions and the effects of poverty or disadvantage. Some are vulnerable, many speak a language other than English as their first language. It’s important for volunteers to understand how these challenges can impact people’s lives and to respond with empathy and without judgement or prejudice.

How much time do I need to commit?

All of our volunteering roles require a minimum commitment of at least one year. We therefore ask that you carefully consider whether your individual circumstances are compatible with a regular, long term volunteering role before applying. We invest considerable resources in training and developing volunteers, with the expectation that in return you will contribute to the delivery of our service for at least a year from starting your training.

For the gateway assessor role, we ask our volunteers to be available on a regular weekly basis for at least one day per week (or two half-day sessions) for a minimum period of one year. For the adviser role the commitment is the same but for a minimum of two years. During the initial stage of the learning programme, you will need to find a few more hours each week to complete the online learning in addition to your day(s) in the office.

What is the application process?

We recruit volunteers in groups, three or four times a year or according to organisational needs. This means that it may take a few weeks from the date of submitting your application to starting your training. The first step is to submit an enquiry form on our website, and we will send you an application form to complete. You will be invited to attend an interview and complete a simple task using a computer. If your application is successful, we will follow up your references before arranging your induction and training.

I’m a full-time student. Can I volunteer?

We welcome students who live locally during term-time and are able to make a regular commitment. Many (but not all) of our student volunteers are law students wishing to gain experience of working with clients in a legal advice setting. We offer student volunteers the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in preparation for their chosen career. To gain the greatest benefit, you may like to join us after your summer exams in the first year, undertake the initial training during your summer vacation and continue volunteering with us for the remainder of your course.

Alternatively, if you wish to volunteer in a support role during the summer vacation only, you will need to be available for 3 days a week for 12 weeks, and submit your application form by the 31st May.

Do you offer work experience placements?

Work experience is not the same as volunteering and we do not have the resources to offer short term work experience or volunteering placements, including for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. We are also unable to offer support to develop English language skills.

Do you offer remote volunteering opportunities?

Currently our volunteering roles are in person at our Watford office.

Do you pay travel expenses?

We reimburse all reasonable expenses incurred in travelling to and from the office or other venue in relation to your volunteering. 

What are the benefits of volunteering at Citizens Advice Watford?

Volunteers offer their services for nothing but are rewarded by the satisfaction of helping others in their community in a friendly and supportive environment. Volunteering can provide you with training and experience in key skills which are valued by employers, or offer routine, structure and purpose to those who are not in paid employment. Volunteers forge bonds and friendships with each other through social interaction with like-minded people working towards a common goal. We hold regular monthly meetings, an annual summer party and a Christmas lunch to celebrate the dedication and commitment of all our volunteers. 

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with our charity, or apply for one of our volunteering roles, please submit an enquiry form and we will aim to respond within 5 working days. We look forward to hearing from you.