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Work experience

Citizens Advice Peterborough (CAP) offers engaging work experience placements in our city centre office. Each placement is designed to meet the individual needs of the person undertaking the placement.

What we can offer

  • placements for the duration of one week, or one day per week for a set number of weeks
  • Informal interview/visit to CAP office prior to placement
  • Initial induction and training on personal safety and confidentiality of clients and personal data
  • Experience of a busy office environment in the city centre
  • Experience of working within the charity sector
  • Shadowing staff and volunteers who offer support and advice to a diverse range of people, many who are vulnerable, either face to face or via digital channels (phone, email, web chat)
  • Experience of planning and delivering promotional events/volunteer training
  • Experience of undertaking admin and general office duties

Suitable placement for

  • anyone aged 16+
  • people wanting to work in the charity sector/advice services
  • people who can cope with listening to client experiences that may be distressing
  • people who can understand the importance of confidentiality
  • people working towards a law degree or equivalent qualification who are seeking practical experience of advice services

For more information about our work experience offer, please contact us at volunteering@peterboroughcab.org.uk

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View from a Work Experience placement: Twiza Mutambo

I started my two-week work experience placement with Citizens Advice Peterborough on Thursday 26th July with very little knowledge of the organisation. It was a very enjoyable experience in which I was able to meet and shadow some of the staff and volunteers from different departments, which gave me a great understanding of the advice service operations.

From shadowing Chris, a digital adviser, I was able to see how Citizens Advice Peterborough respond to a range of client enquiries online by providing useful links and information via email for the clients. This gave me a good insight into the types of issues that are very common nationally. Such issues include housing, benefits and debt, which were the common advice areas particularly in Peterborough. I also saw similar issues when shadowing Karen in reception and seeing her upload different clients onto Casebook. Being able to observe the types of difficulties faced by people in Peterborough has allowed me to be more aware of situations that I didn't really take notice of before.

During my time at Citizens Advice Peterborough, I was also able to observe Tina, one of Citizens Advice Peterborough information assessors as well as shadowing specialist adviser, Graham, as they both dealt with clients face-to-face. I found this very interesting as it allowed me to properly see the whole process of giving information and advice. From being able to observe different members of the team, I am now more aware of how Citizens Advice Peterborough operates and the amazing work they do.

Overall, my time at Citizens Advice Peterborough was made very enjoyable as the people were very welcoming and happy to have me observe what they were doing. I have acquired more knowledge of the advisory process and what different client circumstances can lead to as well as how they can be resolved if not bettered.

My week at CAP by Anu Opayinka

Before my week- long work experience placement with Citizens Advice Peterborough I had many misconceptions about the service. I essentially believed it to be a place to go and have your problems sorted out for you if all else failed- a hand- holding experience.

However, during the course of the week this was continuously proven to be incorrect. I discovered that CAP’s ultimate aim is to ‘provide the advice people need for the problems they face’, and as such, empowers people to help themselves, gain confidence, independence and hope for the future. I gained a plethora of new skills. From organisation skills gained through volunteering with Karen at the front of house, through to flexibility and resilience- a must during tough client meetings such as those I observed Marjorie, Saguna and Evie undertake. I gained knowledge of the systems in place as a safety net to help those who struggle and are vulnerable in society- from Universal Credit to PCAS and PIP- and, as a result, learned of the immense support there is available for those of us in difficult circumstances. But, above all I met a wide range of incredible people who serve the community around them tirelessly, heard their stories and, as a result my horizons were broadened beyond the daily grind of school, work and all that come with them.

Overall, my time at CAP was hugely beneficial, allowing me to gain knowledge of the charity sector, advocacy and a busy, city working environment.

Work Experience with Becky and Nav

We started our one month work experience with Citizens Advice Peterborough on the 27th Feb. When first arriving, the atmosphere was very welcoming. To begin with we were shadowing other team members learning each role separately whilst learning new organisation and communication skills. This gave us more of an insight to what CAP does and the procedures that takes place.

Whilst shadowing Karen, the receptionist, and Elaine we began to understand the roles in which they provide for the company and the help they give to the public. Whilst in the reception area we came to learn the ways in which Elaine provides information and assistance to those in need. In digital, we shadowed a few team members and we discovered the ways in which people can get advice through the website, phone calls and emails. However digital wasn’t for us.

We attended an event with a lot of other charities and collected flyers to help extend the amount of knowledge that CAP can provide. We learnt new skills like laminating and it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Overall, our time with CAP was fun, memorable and provided us with the new skills we can use from day to day.

“Work without laughter is no work at all” – Becky (Work experience student)

My week at CAP - Lara

My work experience placement at Citizens Advice commenced on Monday 15th April and I arrived with a hope of gaining an insight into the day-to-day activities of the organisation. During the three days I was at Citizens Advice I explored a variety of the different tasks that each of the team members carry out. This included shadowing the front of house team members from the reception desk to the information assessors. Through this I was able to see what was at the core of Citizens Advice, the desire to help people help themselves.  Another observational activity I undertook was sitting in on client interviews. I was able to see how various specialist advisers conducted their advisory sessions in order to help the client move forward with their predicament.

All of the activities enabled me to see the variety of things they do in order to help society. The most enriching part of my work experience was the client interviews as I found the manner that these were carried out in to be extremely nourishing for members of the general public that were seeking advice. The omnipresent issues within society such as benefit and employment problems are regularly explored at Citizens Advice with the team always doing their best to aid everyone that walks through the door.

Overall, I found that taking part in work experience at Citizens Advice was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Whilst my placement was very short, the team made sure I was able to carry out a variety of tasks and see all the different aspects of Citizens Advice. I have gained knowledge and insight that will remain with me for a long time into the future.

My time at Citizens Advice by Riya Patel

My work experience placement began on the 1st May and I came in on Wednesdays for five weeks. Before arriving, I was not completely sure what the Citizens Advice service did, but I was keen to learn! Over the five weeks, I learnt more and more about CAP by shadowing employees as well as volunteers and explored a variety of different tasks.

For the most part I was shadowing the information assessors, Elaine and Brandon, in the reception area. I saw how advice and information was given to clients face-to-face, and how everyone worked together, with the client, as a team in order to achieve the best possible solution. From shadowing the information assessors, I saw how CAP’s main goal was to help people help themselves, as the information assessors gave clients ways in which to tackle problems by themselves. My favourite part of working in the reception area was the warm and welcoming atmosphere that the workers created there, for me and for the clients.

The most informative activity I undertook was observing client interviews with specialist advisors, as I gained a greater understanding about the challenges that affected certain individuals, such as health and employment problems. I also learnt about universal credit and how it affects people on benefits. I saw that issues surrounding universal credit were the most common, these are the issues that seem to be explored extensively at CAP. Although, CAP mainly deal with these types of problems I also observed that people come to CAP with a range of societal issues.

Overall, my time at Citizens Advice has been a very enjoyable and enriching experience. During my time at CAP I have learnt about the range of issues that are tackled, and how those issues are tackled with in a way that brings self-sustainability. I have acquired skills and knowledge that will help me in any working environment.

 

Work Experience at CAP - Adeena

I began my time at the Citizens Advice Peterborough in May 2019. Before beginning my work experience, I hoped to gain knowledge regarding how the Citizens Advice Bureau play a role in the social welfare of Peterborough as well as nationally. I am able to say this goal of mine has been successfully met. The experience has enabled me to see the biggest problems our city faces such as housing, benefits and debt and the positive impact made on others’ lives.

Shadowing volunteers and advisors from two perspectives enabled me to see the range of ways in which CAP aids the people of Peterborough. Whilst shadowing the receptionist and Elaine at the front, I was able to see how friendly face-to-face information is distributed and the importance of team work in making sure the process is efficient, positive and informative. I found the way in which Elaine distributed her knowledge and her commitment to listening and understanding multifaceted issues inspiring. One particular case which springs to mind is when a distraught lady came in regarding discomfort in the work place and benefits. The experience gave me a greater insight into the sheer complexity of the benefits system as well as how people coming in usually come in with multiple issues. Shadowing Chris replying to emails gave me further knowledge into the emails sent on a local and national scale and the diversity of issues people seek aid in. Exploring from both perspectives has allowed me to evaluate the importance of face-to-face interactions and communications through emails.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Citizens Advice bureau. I have found the experience incredibly refreshing enabling me to see life from a broader perspective. I have enjoyed meeting many of the lovely people who work and volunteer at CAP and gaining first hand experience in the policies and practices in place to aid the vulnerable.

Work Experience at CAP - Rimante

I started my work experience with Citizens Advice Peterborough on the 8th July 2019. At the very beginning I had very little knowledge of this organisation and my expectations of how it works were really different to what they turned out to be. Initially I thought that this is a government funded organisation, which is a common misconception, however at the very start of my week I was proven wrong.

Throughout the week I was able to shadow different areas of Citizen Advice Peterborough such as the reception, digital assessors, information assessors (IA’s) and homelessness prevention. On my first day I was able to shadow some volunteers in the digital sector in which I learned how the volunteers have to be able to analyse the information that the client has given them in order to provide the best advice they can. What I also learned is that sometimes it can be difficult helping people when they offer only vague details of their problem. The most interesting for me were there information assessors and homelessness prevention, the reason for this is because the IA volunteers have to face with the client face to face which can become very challenging if a client becomes frustrated. The reason why I found the homelessness prevention sector very interesting is because I was able to sit-in in one of the appointments which was very moving as I was able to hear the personal story of the client which was moving and emotional.

The whole experience was really eye opening to what really goes on in the local society and how many problems surround us every day that we are unaware of. I also had a great opportunity to visit the Peterborough Food Bank and Care Zone which was really touching as the statistics of how many people/families are in crisis is quite upsetting, but at the same time these visits have motivated me to spread the awareness of these charity organisations, to increase the number of donations so that everyone can get a fair chance in life.

My time at Citizens Advice - Elita Atwere

I began my week at CAP with a limited understanding of the broad range of problems that people experience in Peterborough. Although I had some knowledge of social issues from my A level studies, I didn’t know the extent to which they were prevalent in society.

Throughout the week, I discovered the range and completely individual problems that people face. From domestic issues to the major problem of Universal Credit, every client’s case was slightly different showing that no two people share exactly the same experiences.

It was so interesting to see how the volunteers and staff tackle these issues in different ways. I spent some time shadowing digital advisers who respond to emails and phone calls and I also shadowed information assessors who take clients who have come in for the ‘drop-in’ sessions. I also sat in on an advice session and completed some research on statistics which really opened my eyes about the under representation of minority groups who seek advice from CAP. Furthermore, a trip to the food bank really affected me as it showed how deprived some people can become.

I was in awe of the sheer hard work, resilience and patience that the volunteers and staff portrayed every day when dealing with the clients as it became evident that helping others is often a challenging experience. I found it fascinating to talk to some of the volunteers as they were so insightful and overall inspiring. One particular conversation I had with Elaine will stay with me, as she offered such a different yet engaging view on CAP and society – not only has this helped me academically but has allowed me to see social issues from an alternative perspective.

Overall, my time at CAP has been nothing less than inspiring. I have acquired so much knowledge into the problems people face and how they can be dealt with. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and it has definitely encouraged me to look into doing some volunteering in the community, and perhaps working within the charity sector in the future.

My Work Experience at CAP - Ruby

Over the course of my four day work experience (July 15th – 18th 2019), I was introduced to CAP’s policies and the problems they faced on a day to day basis. At the beginning I had a basic understanding of them being a charity that helped advise people on a broad range of issues; however I quickly learnt they had a much more significant role.  I learnt how they advised people on a whole range of topics, specifically debt, housing. Family issues, racism, homophobia and many other issues, through their drop in service with an information assessor (Elaine or Brandon) and if they couldn’t help you at the time they would either recommend those who can or book you the closest appointment with a specialist within the organisation.

I spent most of my time, by choice, in the office researching contacts for advertising Citizens Advice, researching complicated questions (e.g. how to quantify training), and taking photos of the volunteers for a photo wall. You don’t just have to be in the office; you can ask or choose to observe members of staff including Information Assessors and Advisers.

I observed Janette, a welfare benefits adviser and witnessed how to set up and manage your Universal Credit account. She also talked about how to apply and how it is a very difficult and confusing process. The most challenging part of my work experience was learning how difficult it is for the less fortunate people to survive in the modern world due to lack of support and funding because the UK has a large enough economy that it should be able to spend/ invest more money to those who really need it.

As well as observing appointments, I observed the digital team; learning what they did and how they advised people via email and over the phone.  I talked to two volunteers, Lauren and Tayo about the different ways to advise and how it’s easier to do it via email as you get to research the information to find the correct solution whereas over the phone and  face to face they expect a response straight away.

Overall, my time at Citizens Advice was interesting and allowed me to improve my knowledge of the main problems we face today in society. It is quite different from other work experience as you are treated like an employee and witness what everyone else does and not just sat in an office shredding paper or watching other people work as you actually get to assist them on a project,  in an appointment or on the front desk. My experience as a whole was very enjoyable due to the relaxed work environment, friendly staff and first hand experiences of the key issues that trouble society.

My week at CAP - Lydia Balon

My week-long work experience placement at CAP offered a wonderful platform from which to engage with current social issues and gain insight into the work of the charity sector. The staff were extremely welcoming, making the experience thoroughly enjoyable as well as educational. Helen was fantastic in making the process of arranging my placement painless, and she and Eloise supported me excellently throughout the week.

I spent much of my time shadowing the Information Assessors (IAs) in reception, witnessing the beginning (and potentially the end for those who can be helped on the spot) of the client journey through CAP. I was struck by the variety of problems addressed by Citizens’ Advice, including, but by no means limited to, benefits, housing, debt, immigration, family matters and neighbourly disputes. The IAs often doubled as therapists, tailoring the service they provided to the individual needs of their clients. The diversity of the CAP team also meant that the clients often had access to someone with whom they could closely relate, and that those for whom English is a second language could sometimes be greeted in their native language. I was given the responsibility of writing up several anonymous case studies for use by CAP in promotional campaigns.

Additionally, I was present at several hour-long benefit-related appointments with Janette and Becky, whose expert assistance resulted in positive outcomes for very vulnerable clients. As well as allowing me to engage with the clients on a more personal level due to hearing much of their life stories, these appointments especially highlighted problems within the social care system, some of which CAP actively seeks to solve through research and publicity campaigns (for example, CAP was involved in the campaign that saw the waiting time for Universal Credit reduced by a week).

I also had the opportunity to shadow Gurjit answering the Advice Line in the digital department, where I observed the extra lengths to which CAP goes to assist clients: in addition to providing the requested aid, CAP staff routinely check to see whether there is anything else they can provide to improve the situation of the clients (such as whether clients are aware of benefits, tax reductions or grant schemes for which they might be eligible). The incredible teamwork throughout the service ensures that clients are able to benefit from the expertise of all relevant members, resulting in an impressive standard of service that is life-changing for many of CAP’s clients.