VOLUNTEERS: Milton Keynes Citizens Advice Bureau

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THE Volunteer Centre, Milton Keynes provides an essential service to local not for profit organisations in recruiting volunteers.

This week we are focusing on one particular organisation – Milton Keynes Citizens Advice Bureau (MK CAB).

All sorts of people volunteer with MK CAB for different reasons, but one thing that unites them all is that they find it challenging, rewarding and varied. Volunteering with MK CAB provides an opportunity to learn new skills and develop existing ones. You will meet a wide range of people, make new friends and have the opportunity to volunteer as part of a team that have been providing advice and support to the community for over 30 years.

You don’t need to know it all and you don’t need any particular qualifications or experience. They are proud of their diverse team of volunteers from all walks of life. They provide all volunteers with a comprehensive, accredited training programme that will equip you with the skills you need to deliver a high quality service to the clients.

Once you are trained you are never on your own – there are always more experienced staff and volunteers on hand to support you.

Furthermore you won’t be out of pocket – MK CAB will reimburse you for travel costs, mileage and parking and may even be able to make a small contribution towards childcare costs.

They have a number of different roles available and they will do their best to match you to the one that fits your interests and availability.

You just need to be able:

> To offer a minimum of eight hours a week

> To volunteer for a minimum of six months

> To be good at listening

> To be able to volunteer in a team

> To be able to read and write English and to do basic maths

> To be open minded and non judgemental

Volunteer Advisor

Being a Volunteer Adviser with the MK CAB is an incredibly varied role. Once trained you can expect to carry out the following duties:

> Interviewing clients at the bureau, both face to face and over the telephone

> Responding to enquiries made by clients via email or post

> Give information and advice using the CAB up-to-the-minute electronic information system which contains most of the information you will need when advising clients

> Give advice in explaining the choices and consequences the client faces

> Give practical help by writing letters, making phone calls, completing forms and doing basic calculations

> Make accurate records of all client cases

> Prevent future problems by identifying issues that affect a lot of clients both locally and nationally

Gateway Assessors

Are you good at getting to the point?

At the Milton Keynes CAB, they are experiencing record numbers of enquiries from across the local area. It’s good to know that people need their help, but they want to make sure that the service they offer can meet the current demand. This means they are investing in a brand new telephone helpline to answer calls Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.

They need volunteers who can prioritise and assess the level of advice and information that the clients may need. You won’t be giving ‘full advice’ but you will be carrying out short, ‘diagnostic’ interviews in order to establish the main facts about a client’s situation and help prepare information to allow one of the trained advisers to spend more time with them.

You will need to be able to gather as much detail as possible in a short period of time so it’s essential that you are able to explore the problem whilst being direct and focused in your line of questioning.

Volunteer Administrator

Do you like to make a good first impression? At the CAB they recognise that their clients might have a lot on their mind and the last thing they need is to feel uncomfortable when they visit the Bureau. That’s why their volunteer administration staff are so important – both to the clients and to the organisation.

As a Volunteer Administrator you will:

> Greet clients and make them feel comfortable

> Take clients initial contact and personal details – creating and updating client records

> Speak to existing clients over the phone in relation to their appointments

> Offering courtesy calls to remind clients when and where to attend and chasing up important documents required to further the client’s case

> To assist the Telephone Services Manager and call centre staff and volunteers with general office duties and clerical tasks when required

> Able to create a good first impression and demonstrate a professional telephone manner

> Able to demonstrate a flexible approach to varying tasks

> Enjoy helping people

> Competent audio typist (desirable but not essential)

Interested? Then to register your details contact the Volunteer Centre, Milton Keynes on 01908 662744 or e-mail enquiries@volunteermk.org.uk

Alternatively to find out more about other voluntary roles pop into one of the following outreach centres to talk to an advisor or call to arrange an appointment

Wolverton, Town Hall, Creed Street

Tuesday 10am – 12pm

Netherfield, Woughton Community Council, Farthing Grove

Wednesday 10am – 12pm

Central Milton Keynes, Acorn House, Midsummer Boulevard

Thursday 10am – 12pm

Bletchley, Bletchley & Fenny Stratford Town Council, Queensway

Friday 12pm – 2pm

On the other hand log onto the National Database of Voluntary Opportunities www.do-it.org to view the 350 voluntary roles currently registered with the Volunteer Centre, Milton Keynes