No tears now as Cliff hones his CAB skills and spreads the word to other potential North Herts volunteers

Cliff Marshall CAB

Cliff Marshall CAB - Credit: Archant

One of the North Herts CAB team of advisors has put himself in the spotlight to encourage others to come forward for a recruitment event next month.

Citizens Advice Bureau advisor Cliff Marshall

Citizens Advice Bureau advisor Cliff Marshall - Credit: Archant

And Cliff Marshall is full of praise for what he has learned since joining the team, saying proudly: “Now I can complete an advice session without being in tears!”

When he first signed up to help he assumed that at least some of his lifetime experiences qualified him to be an advisor.

He said: “My wife and I started married life as a homeless couple and soon had a baby on the way.

“With my background of legal and financial matters in building and property, and my experience as a district councillor, I thought I would be ideally placed to help clients.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau - Credit: Archant

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“What a shock it was to find how little I knew and how limited my skills were.

“The CAB is great at training volunteers in the necessary skills. With the help of the paid staff and the other volunteers, I negotiated all the training to become an adviser. We are able to explain to most clients their options, and the possible consequences of their choices.

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“The first thing I learned was that we can’t solve every client’s problems.

“I was surprised at how some clients let their problem get so much worse before coming to the bureau and how so many believed that we could wave a ‘magic wand’ to make things better without them having to do anything.

“In most instances we are able to move them forward at least.

“Keeping up with all the changes to the law and the benefit system via on-going training enables us to challenge unfair assessments of some vulnerable clients or deal with a waiting room full of dismissed staff on a Monday morning.

“I find the most difficult problem to advise on is relationship breakdown as it involves so many other issues needing careful consideration at an emotional time.

“But I can now complete an advice session without being in tears!

“Although we can’t solve every problem I still get great personal satisfaction from helping clients know their rights and to make them realise that they are not on their own. Being part of a team working towards the same goal makes CAB a rewarding place to work. I would recommend it to anyone thinking of volunteering.”

The next volunteer information morning is on Monday, September 14. Email to book a place or to find out more.

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