Mary is one of our longest serving volunteers, who provides vital assistance helping people to fill in forms for benefit applications. These forms can often be lengthy, complex documents which can cause a lot of stress. Completing these application forms can make a big improvement to people’s lives as they are able to claim benefits they are entitled to, increasing their income which can help with both well-being and reduced stress levels.
We talked to Mary about her crucial volunteer role at CaSSCA
What is your volunteer role at Central and South Sussex Citizens Advice, and how long have you been volunteering for the organisation?
I joined Citizens Advice over 12 years ago as a generalist advisor. For the last four years my role has involved form filling for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), pension credit, other forms relating to these areas.
What led you to choose to volunteer for Citizens Advice, e.g. previous work experience?
After retiring I needed structure in my week and to exercise my brain
What is your role at Citizens Advice, and could you describe your typical responsibilities?
Filling in forms – following up the results of PIP assessments
Buying biscuits and milk (I am reimbursed!)
What have we achieved locally that you’re most proud of?
Making people aware of what they are entitled to. Examples would include benefits, rights, grants and assessments. Especially older people who aren’t aware of how the system works and how it has changed in their lifetime.
What do you personally get out of volunteering for Citizens Advice, and would you recommend it to a friend?
Yes I would recommend. What I have got out of it is a knowledge of how things work, how the world works e.g. renting, higher purchase, general knowledge of debt.
Finally… what top three words would you use to describe volunteering for Citizens Advice?
Satisfying, fun and frustrating. Frustrating because there is only so much that can be done, not everyone can be helped and not every situation can be changed.
Click here to view Volunteers Week 2017