Citizens Advice has launched a drive to recruit more volunteers. It is looking for people who want to help to ensure that others get justice and fair treatment in the eyes of the law and is highlighting the work its Bureaux do in providing legal services.The appeal for people to give time to their local Citizens Advice Bureaux comes as the Year of the Volunteer, which has a different focus each month, switches to the theme of justice.
Citizens Advice is pointing out that there are more than 120 CAB courts desks at county and magistrates courts in England and Wales, offering free emergency advice and representation. At the same time more than 250 Citizens Advice Bureaux have contracts with the Legal Services Commission, formerly the Legal Aid Board, to provide free legal advice on debt, housing, welfare benefits, immigration and employment, to those people who are entitled to it.
As part of its bid for recruits the organisation says that during the year 2003- 2004 trained CAB volunteers helped people deal with 433,000 new legal related problems. Dan Vale Head of Policy at Citizens Advice said access to justice had always been central to its work. In addition to the services they provide Bureaux also work closely with solicitors providing free legal work for clients in areas such as family law and immigration. The Citizens Advice service is a network of independent charities that helps people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. The national network of Citizens Advice Bureaux relies on over 20,000 volunteers who fulfil a range of roles. Some are trained advisers and some fulfil vital administrative roles, like reception work, IT support or PR and fundraising activities. Others serve on bureau trustee boards or do social policy campaigning work. Volunteers don’t need any previous qualifications, skills or experience, but do need to be open-minded and non-judgemental, as well as being able to work well alongside other people. Citizen’s Advice has set up a special local rate volunteer recruitment hotline on 08451 264 264 and people interested in being volunteers can also visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk / join-us. Law students who train as CAB advisors can get up to six months off their solicitors training contracts.