There are many reasons why people want to volunteer with Citizens Advice Gateshead - to increase their skills, to give something back to their community, or to get out and meet new people. One of the most popular is to learn new skills and move on into employment and we have a surprisingly high number of our staff who started out as volunteers, including our Service Delivery Director!
One of our newest advisers and a former volunteer, Nassar, shares his thoughts about becoming a full-time adviser and the training he has undertaken to get ready for the role.
Money Advice Trainee Adviser Nassar talks about coming through the Citizens Advice Money Advice and Pension Service Trainee Academy
Nassar joined Citizens Advice Gateshead as an advice volunteer in 2019 and began working his way through the adviser training programme. He enjoyed the challenge and decided that he wanted to pursue a role in advice work. A trainee adviser role came up in our debt team, funded by the money advice and pensions service (MAPS), seeking an enthusiastic adviser, new to debt advice, who was willing to develop their skills and knowledge to advise in this area.
Nassar secured the role and commenced this role in October 2020.
The Trainee Academy
The Citizens Advice MAPS project coordinators had recently introduced a Trainee Academy, aimed at providing focused and dedicated training for new debt advisers. After a successful application, Nassar was accepted into the Academy. He says;
“I commenced my post as Trainee Money Advice Worker in early October 2020 where I began by attending a distance learning training course for 11 weeks. The course was run through MAPS Trainee Academy was specifically designed for trainee money advisors to develop their technical knowledge and skills to deliver quality advice. The training was attended by a dozen or so trainees who were based nationally within Citizens Advice."
Teaching was facilitated through lectures and presentations using online platforms. Trainees were encouraged to engage in discussion sessions, case studies, and role-plays through these platforms. Teaching and learning were further reinforced with trainees completing online E-learning modules and being set home study assignments. Nassar continues:
"During the period of the 11 weeks of training we covered a variety of areas including types of debt, courts functions, debt enforcement, insolvency options, debt assessment, supporting vulnerable clients, tailoring advice, negotiating with creditors and third parties, etc.”
Having successfully completed the training offered by the academy Nassar returned to work within our debt team, where he now puts what he learned into practice, advising and assisting clients to manage their debt issues. Nassar says;
“I personally found the training very wide which opened me up to gaining a lot of knowledge initially. While I found the training quite intense and comprehensive, I did not feel that I had become an expert in any shape or form. However, later and while getting the opportunity to apply the learning in practice it started to make sense. To coin a phrase ‘the penny started to drop’ when advising clients for real. For example, when supporting a client to complete a debt assessment and personal budget enabled me to assess and establish which insolvency option was suitable, and in the client’s best interest given their individual circumstances.
While the training was challenging, it offered me an opportunity to meet new people, share knowledge and experience a diverse way of learning. I still feel that I have a lot to learn to but the training has given me a good basis to continue to professionally develop in my role."