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Citizens Advice Stalwart Is An Inspiration To Any Would-Be Advisor

Published on: 4 Apr, 2015
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2015

Anyone who is thinking of becoming a volunteer advisor with the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will be inspired by the work of a key member of the team at the bureau in Ash.

Barbara Kemp of Ash Citizens Advice Bureau.

Barbara Kemp of Ash Citizens Advice Bureau.

Barbara Kemp has just retired from her staff role as session supervisor and trainer, but will not be leaving the bureau entirely as she is about to take on a new role with a local focus on the CAB’s work of research and campaigning.

Living the in local community for more than 40 years, Barbara started as a volunteer with Ash CAB in 1989. At that time her children were growing up and she felt she wanted to give something back to the community, one in which she understood a good deal about.

About 13 years ago she took over a paid post at the bureau for two days a week, supervising volunteer advisors on one day and training new volunteers the other day.

Encouraging anyone who may like to become a CAB advisor, Barbara said: “What is essential is that you have an interest in people. If you have that, you are likely to do well. And you don’t have to have prior knowledge of the specific services CABs offer.”

Ash CAB runs one course a year for new volunteers starting each September. Up to eight volunteers usually enrol. Volunteers study by using booklets from the CAB’s national training scheme. They also have a tutorial session once a week, and the course lasts six months.

Barbara added: “During the course they can gain some experience volunteering at the bureau to get a feel of how it operates – such as working as a receptionist.”

The training culminates with a two-day skills course after which volunteers go back to their bureau and start working with clients – but under supervision of senior staff. This includes a good deal of support and nurturing as they learn more about the wide range of issues people are facing and ways to help them.

Barbara started her volunteering spending one day a week at the bureau, and back then, like now, people who are attracted to the role are often those who lead a busy life with lots of other interests.

Her work with the CAB also included 15 spent with a specialist benefits unit based in Woking.

As she begins a new role with the CAB, she points out that at Ash CAB in particular, it is not unusual for advisors to complete 15 to 20 years’ service.

One aspect of her new role with regard to research will be to look into how foodbanks are operating in the local area – why people need them and how they help people on low incomes. The information and data Barbara collates will then be forwarded to the CAB’s national database and researchers.

Barbara said: “I have made some very long-term friends while being here, the work has always been very enjoyable.”

Ash CAB, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DP (at the rear of the Ash Centre), offers drop-in sessions, Monday to Thursday, 9.30am to 1pm; appointments, Monday to Thursday, 1.30pm and 2.45pm; and a telephone advice service on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.

Telephone: 01252 315569.


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