For those of us with a wealth and range of life-skills, and years of experience in managing ourselves, our families, and teams of professionals, the challenge is to transfer these skills into a different area.

Sound advice given to me when arriving at this juncture in life was to aim at 3 goals: engage oneself in challenging mental activity, continue to work with people of all backgrounds, and have a structure to the week such that days don’t simply merge into one blob.

For me, volunteering for 13 years as an adviser with Citizens Advice meets these goals admirably. For many of us, giving something back to the community means a great deal.

Additionally, for me, during the considerable and hugely varied training to do the job, I learned about folk and their many potential legal and civil issues. And my goodness, there are so many unfortunate folk for whom the dice have not rolled fairly!

The challenge is then how on earth to help them address and overcome these issues. My three shifts per week with CA presents me with clients either on the phone or in person in the office.

Every client is different, there is no solution that fits everyone. I soon realised that life throws such wide ranges of problems at folk that many cannot possibly fix things themselves.

For me, yes, it’s an honour and privilege to help folk get back on their feet. Where I get a real buzz (probably based on my career in planning, fixing and conducting complex military projects) is to be confronted by a client with complex issues, and then to do the research to determine the options with/for on how to sort it out.

The skill is to explore the background and presenting issues thoroughly and without delay. If we can, we agree with the client how to resolve their issues themselves.

Empowering the clients gives them the pride and satisfaction of fixing things themselves. In some cases, though, we may refer them in-house for further action.

Then there’s the next client!

But be assured we’re never bored doing this job! Nor after many years are we surprised at the pickle in which many folks find themselves.

Neither are we judgemental - just pleased to be able to help, whatever the issue is.