We currently have no vacancies for new volunteers. However please check this web page periodically as our volunteer opportunities change regularly
In the tabbed pages below you’ll find a descriptions of volunteer roles possible at the CAB and other useful information. Regrettably we do not currently have the resources to train volunteer advisers, however we hope this will change in the future.
Although we are only recruiting for certain volunteers at certain times (see above) – we can give you a good idea of what the different volunteer roles are at the CAB.
Click on any of the roles listed below for a description:
This page provides answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about volunteering. If there is anything that we have not covered here contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there certain skills I need to be a CAB volunteer?
This does vary as with some roles we will provide complete training from scratch, such as Gateway Assessors and Advisers and with others it is more beneficial if you already have some previous experience to bring to the role, such as administrative assistants. However, what really matters most is what kind of person you are – you will need to be open-minded, non-judgmental, be able to listen, learn, and work in a team.
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 accredited 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 new team members receive core training about the principles and policies which are important to the CAB as an organisation and basic people interaction skills. Receptionists, Gateway Assessors and Advisers all then receive additional training specific to their roles. This training is free and is recognised and respected throughout the country. Each training programme consists of working through self-study packs, observation of trained colleagues performing the role, and for Gateway Assessors and Advisers attendance at external training days run by Citizens Advice. You will be supported throughout your training by an in-bureau Guidance Tutor. We normally have at least 2 trainees at any one time, so you are likely to be training with other new volunteers. We find that most people complete the reception training programme in one month, the Gateway Assessor in 6 weeks and the adviser training programme in 9-12 months, although this will, of course, depend on how much time you are able to commit to it.
What support will I get as a CAB volunteer?
All volunteers are fully supported and supervised throughout their involvement with CAB. There will be a paid member of staff that you can turn to for extra support if you feel you need it. There is an Advice Session 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 again depends on the roles due to the different levels of training and experience required before you will be able to perform the role competently. For the Adviser role a minimum of 2 days a week is preferred and for the Gateway Assessor a minimum commitment of 1 day a week is necessary. The more time you can give the quicker you will be trained and qualified. However for all other roles a half day commitment per week can be accommodated.
When/ what times can I volunteer?
Due to the level of support and supervision involved, all volunteer roles currently occur only within office hours. Our days are split into half day sessions Monday to Friday. You will be able to indicate on the application form which days and times you wish to volunteer.
Will I get my expenses paid?
We do not want you to be out of pocket for giving us your time. However our current funding only permits us to reimburse travel expenses at the moment – and this is limited to the cheapest form of public transport. On order to comply with Charity Commission rules evidence of this cost will need to be provided for our accounts. Your superviser will discuss the practicalities of this with you. We are looking at ways to try to increase our expenses fund.
Is any preference given to residents of Waltham Forest when selecting volunteers?
Yes. This is part of our agreement with the local authority funder to engage in activities that contribute to local community development. Recruiting local residents also helps towards keeping travelling expenses to a level we can afford.
What are the chances of getting a job afterwards?
There are currently no opportunities for paid employment at Walthamstow CAB, but CAB volunteering provides skills and experience that is valued by many employers. A lot of paid bureau staff, for example managers, case workers and administrators, started out as volunteers.
What are the reasons I might not be selected as a volunteer this time around?
We always have a large response to our volunteer opportunities and unfortunately we do not have the resources to accept everyone that applies whenever we do a round of recruitment. So some applicants will unfortunately be disappointed. Sometimes it is simply that the days or times that someone has to offer are not in in line with the days that we need them – so please ensure that you check to see if we have stated specific availability for the advertised current volunteer opportunities before applying. Other times we may have chosen someone who can commit more time with us as this will result in a better service for the community.
However life changes mean that we have new volunteer opportunities all the time. On the application form you will be able to indicate if you would like us to keep your application and to contact you when future opportunities arise.
I will not be able to volunteer during school holidays or exam time – is this OK?
Yes this is fine. The majority of roles within the bureau can accommodate extended absences. The exception to this is the Receptionist role which by its very nature is very difficult for us to do without for long periods. When there is no receptionist we have to close our doors to our users. Thus this role would not be suitable for anyone who may need to stop volunteering for extended periods on a regular basis. This also applies to students who may need to take extended study leave at exam times. However there are plenty other volunteer roles where these types of absences will be possible.
Am I too old or too young to volunteer?
There are no age limits except for:
• Advisers – the minimum age limit is 16
• Trustees – the minimum age limit is 18
There is no “retirement age” to volunteering with us – as long as you can still perform the role we will be very happy to have you. We like a good mixture of age ranges within our team.
I have a disability, can I volunteer with you?
Within the Citizens Advice Bureau network, equal opportunity in volunteering means offering access and equivalent treatment to our volunteers across the whole range of our voluntary recruitment practices. Our aim is to enable all our volunteers to make their distinctive contributions to the benefit of the people who use our service. The Citizens Advice service is determined to develop a working culture that is fair and inclusive. Thus please inform of us any needs that you may have so that we can discuss and explore your support and training needs at the earliest opportunity.
However please note that our Walthamstow offices are situated on the first floor and with regret are not at the moment accessible to anyone in a wheelchair or who will have a problem with stairs. Work has started on the installation of a lift and we have been assured that this will be completed within the coming months.
Can my immigrations status affect my ability to volunteer?
Yes. There are some groups of people for whom volunteering will be a breach of their immigration status and so it is important anyone with a visa status checks to see if the conditions of their entry to the UK allow them to volunteer. Breaching your entry conditions can put your visa at risk. On official documents this will probably be described as “unpaid work” rather than as volunteering. If you are still in doubt you should contact the UK Border Agency. The UK Border Agency is an executive agency of the Home Office and deals with immigration issues once someone has been issued with a visa/entry clearance and entered the country. The telephone number for their immigration enquiry line is 0870 606 7766.
Why do you sometimes stop recruiting new volunteers?
We stop recruiting when we have reached the maximum number of volunteers that we can train at any given time whilst continuing to deliver our core service. It is important to us that we do not overstretch ourselves so that we can give the best support and training to every volunteer that we have.
I don’t have any skills to offer – however I really want to be a CAB volunteer.
We find most people have more skills than they realise. However training is available for most of our volunteering opportunities, so please don’t feel you have nothing to offer. CAB cares more about what kind of people its volunteers are, not what they know before they start. So, are you a good listener? Are you willing to learn, and enjoy helping others? I f the answer is yes then we will be happy to hear from you.
When can I start?
Once the recruitment and selection process is completed, then pretty much straight away. However we like to start groups of new volunteers together so there may be a small delay if one of the new volunteers needs a bit of time to put in place things like caring or childcare arrangements.
Citizens Advice (our national organisation) has some useful information about volunteering at a CAB.
Definition of volunteering
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Jobcentre Plus network give the following definition:
‘Volunteering is when you choose to give time and energy to benefit other people without being paid for it.’
‘As a volunteer you could:
- volunteer for a charity or other voluntary organisation
- volunteer with a public sector organisation, or
- help your community.’
‘It is not volunteering if you:
- do something for a family member
- are given money apart from your expenses, or
- are under contract to do it (this does not include any ‘volunteer agreement’ you have).’
There are no limits on the amount of time someone can volunteer for as long as they continue to meet the conditions of the benefit or tax credit they are receiving.
It is worth noting that in most cases, if someone is volunteering full time and receives an allowance from the organisation they are volunteering for such as food, travel and basic living costs they will not usually be eligible to receive benefits. An allowance is different from receiving exact reimbursement of your actual travel expenses.
Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
A person in receipt of JSA can still volunteer as long as they:
- remain available for and are actively seeking a full-time paid job
- take reasonable steps to find a job (e.g. answering advertisements, signing up with an agency and taking other steps required by the Jobcentre Plus office )
- inform the Job Centre / Jobcentre Plus that they are volunteering
- can attend interview within 48 hours and take up work within one week.
We can help volunteers in receipt of JSA by providing a standard letter stating that the volunteer:
- receives 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 someone’s Income Support as long as they are not receiving any money other than reimbursement of expenses.
There is confusion over Incapacity Benefit because there used to be a rule that individuals in receipt of the benefit could only volunteer for 16 hours a week.
This rule no longer applies, although many people are still being told that it does. If you are in receipt of Incapacity Benefit then you can volunteer for as long as you want. People often worry that starting to volunteer will automatically trigger an investigation into their need to claim Incapacity Benefit, but in fact this rarely happens.
Occasionally there is also some confusion about volunteering and ‘permitted work’ (similar to the old ‘therapeutic earnings’). The permitted work rule applies only to paid work and should not affect volunteers. Claimants should be entitled to volunteer without having to have it recognised as permitted work.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
This is a new benefit which was introduced on 27 October 2008. The ESA replaces both Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid because of disability or incapacity. (Incapacity Benefit and Income Support will continue to be paid to existing claimants; new claimants will receive ESA).
The new regulations on Employment and Support Allowance clearly state that claimants will be allowed to volunteer. The regulations also recognise that reasonable expenses can be reimbursed to claimants who volunteer. If you receive any difficulties the bureau can help by providing a letter confirming the number of hours, that these hours are unpaid, and that volunteering is more flexible regarding attendance and therefore cannot be regarded the same a paid work.
For further information about the ESA see the links below:
Department for Work and Pensions website:
Your guide to Employment and Support Allowance
Includes FAQs and factsheets.
Disability Alliance website:
Employment and Support Allowance resource page
Disability Living Allowance
DLA is an allowance paid in acknowledgement of the fact that life for someone with a disability may be more expensive – for instance, someone with mobility problems may be reliant on taxis. Volunteering will not affect whether an individual receives this benefit or not.
Volunteering and Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit
If you are getting Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, you must tell your local council when you start volunteering. You should also tell them about any payments you get.
Volunteering and Carer’s Allowance
If you are caring for someone who is severely disabled and you are getting Carer’s Allowance, your benefit will not be affected by volunteering unless it prevents you from providing care for at least 35 hours each week. You must not be working for a close relative, and must receive no payment for your work, other than out-of-pocket expenses. You should tell your local Jobcentre Plus office before you start voluntary work.
Volunteering if you are a lone parent on Income Support
If you are a lone parent getting Income Support, there is no limit to the number of hours a week you can volunteer. You must not be working for a close relative, and must receive no payment for your work, other than out-of-pocket expenses. You should tell your local Jobcentre Plus office before you start your voluntary work.
Expenses and benefits
Apart from DLA, the above benefits are open only to people who are not in paid employment. Any kind of paid work would jeopardise an individual’s right to claim benefits, and they may find that their payments are docked or suspended. Expenses do not constitute a payment, so volunteers can receive reimbursement of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses (any expenses that they have incurred because they are volunteering) without their benefits being affected.
Only actual expenses should be reimbursed. We will collect receipts and keep records of what expenses you have been paid, so that if there is any kind of query it can clearly be shown that you have only been reimbursed money rather than given any extra reward.
Informing benefits advisers
It is compulsory for claimants to notify benefits advisers that they are volunteering. The benefits adviser can then take into account the nature of the volunteering role and assess whether it will affect entitlement to benefits.
Further information is available on the DirectGov website.
A PDF on ‘Volunteering while getting benefits’ is available to download from the DWP website.
When we are recruiting, this is where you will find the application form. At the moment we are not recruiting.
Here is a guide to our selection criteria:
- We give preference to residents of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
- We give preference to applicants who are able to commit at least six months to the service.
- Both roles require a continuous presence during our opening times and so would not be suitable for someone in need of frequent smoking breaks.
- The receptionist role is not suited to anyone who may need to take an extended absence for example due to exams or school holidays. Without a receptionist the bureau would need to close its doors. The Gateway Role is more flexible for anyone who may need to take periodic absences.
- If you are not chosen in this round of selection it may simply be that your availability is not in line with our current needs. However new vacancies do arise all the time and all applications will be kept on file for future consideration. Please indicate on the application form if you do not wish us to keep your application on file.
When we are recruiting, the application form will be here
Please also look at:-
Selection of suitable applicants will be made from the information in your application form. We will contact you shortly afterwards with notification of if your application has been successful at this round of recruitment and if so what happens next.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.