► Gateshead Citizen's Advice Bureau

About Gateshead Citizens Advice Bureau

Gateshead Citizens Advice Bureau is a charitable organisation that provides free advice to people who live or work in Gateshead on a wide range of areas dealing with matters around debt, employment, family and relationships, care needs and benefits. The Citizens Advice Bureau nationally defends the rights of our clients and seeks to influence Government Policy to the benefit of our clients and the whole community through our social policy work. 

What is the Social Policy Campaign role?

We at Gateshead CAB make a record of every enquiry that we receive. We use this evidence combined with wider research to highlight the consequences that Government Policy has on real people in the real world. To this end we cooperate regionally with other CAB’s and also contribute evidence to the national campaigns headed by our national organisation based in London. 

The role of the campaigner is one where by you research the identified issues widely sometime joining forces with other CAB’s and outside agencies but also meeting with people to interview them. It is necessary to check facts with all people involved on all sides to gain full picture of the situation so that you can accurately produce a report. 

The Volunteer Role: Volunteer Social Policy Workers

Those that want to contribute to a community cause and who would like to use some of there spare time more productively. This role in particular will appeal to those that are interested in journalism, social issues, and the law. – The most important factor is a desire to make a difference for our clients. 

Why we need the help?

We at Gateshead want to ensure that our social policy work is as relevant to as many of the people in Gateshead as we can. We would like to form a small team of campaigners to work initially on one project but that could lead on to the development of further projects. The projects could take any form that you see fit and depending on the approach that you take this may involve researching around a client issue, examining legislation, interviewing clients, linking up with other local CAB’s and organisations as well as generating awareness through use of the media.

Can we provide expenses?

As a charity we are limited by our funds but we can provide a reimbursement to basic travel costs so that you are not out of pocket for helping us. 

What we need?

We need keen, enthusiastic and committed people. You need to be able to work cooperatively and helpfully in a team. As we are hoping to form a small team we expect there will be a range of skills and experience that can be used. 

How much time is needed?

The time commitment is flexible you really only need to attend the monthly Social Policy Group meeting but aside from that you can use your time to explore our records to find an issue to investigate. Out main tutor is also the Social Policy Co-ordinator and will be available to guide you. 

What Training is provided?

There is a basic level of training that is provided that mostly introduces you to the Citizens Advice Bureau and some the Advice work that we do. We will provide guidance to help you find the information to form a report to argue for a change in practice or perhaps the law. 

What are the benefits for you?

1. Enhance your employability through showing a commitment to a community cause 
2. Develop and practice skills in problem solving, using and taking a methodical and organised approach; research skills, evaluative and analytical skills, communication - both written and verbal 
3. Demonstrate a sensitivity to the values and interests of others
4. Demonstrate team working and cooperation to future employers by volunteering your time working with our diverse staff, volunteers and clients.
5. Develop your interpersonal skills through communicating with a range of people and organisations; developing patience and clarity in communication. 
6. Gain practical experience constructing reasoned arguments presenting clear conclusions and recommendations.
7. Gain an insight to the third sector in a client orientated environment that is at the forefront of the New Coalition Government agenda.
8. Opportunity to further show commitment over the long term by completing additional policy projects over the longer term or contributing to the organisation in a different way.