Experiencing the service

We were recently joined by two work experience students for a week.  We gave over the blog to them to interview each other about their expectations and experiences of what we do.

Stupendous Social Service with Sophie by Mark

Sophie (15), from Hook, has been doing work experience with us at Citizens Advice for the week. She is a Year 10 student studying at Robert May’s School, just starting GCSE’s with particular interest in Art and Design and Ethics.

Mark, 17 (left) and Sophie, 15 (right).
Mark, 17 (left) and Sophie, 15 (right).

She came to Citizens Advice on Wednesday 13th July with few expectations and “not much idea of what happens here” but she found out the service “help a wide variety of people giving useful advice of a great number of issues .“

A reason for wanting to experience working here was her keen interest in psychology and how the hardworking volunteers and employees deal with different cases. That can relate to how people think and operate in everyday life. “Psychology would be an area of interest for me in the future possibly for studies or as a career,” she explains.

Sophie and Mark set to interviewing each other about their work experience with Citizens Advice.
Sophie and Mark set to interviewing each other about their work experience with Citizens Advice.

With their permission she has been sitting in on clients’ interviews and advice sessions and learning how the experienced volunteers deal with the important personal issues that need resolving. “One of the most useful tools for advisers here is the adviser net website.”  The website gives information to advisers and the public on a great range of issues.

I went into a gateway interview with an elderly man who was trying to determine if starting work full time would affect certain benefits that he was currently receiving.”  Citizen’s Advice was able to help, using their expertise and research over legislation to clearly give information assisting the client.

I feel that working with Citizen’s Advice has really helped to boost my confidence and ability to interact socially and help others.’”  This is a vital skill that helps working in any situation and is useful to develop.

Sophie has said that she would definitely consider volunteering with the service, and would encourage others to do so because of the vital and useful service it provides for a large majority of the Hart community.

Making his ‘Mark’ by Sophie

Mark is a 17 year old sixth form college student, currently studying at Yateley Sixth Form. Despite him previously having had no direct link to Citizens Advice, Mark has come to believe that “somewhere in everyone’s life there is a genuine need for help, guidance, advice and support.”  We make it our mission to deliver this to anyone, and everyone.

Mark, 17 (left) and Sophie, 15 (right)
Mark, 17 (left) and Sophie, 15 (right)

When asked about why he had wanted to experience Citizens Advice ‘behind the scenes’, Mark said that he had heard that “no day was exactly the same, there’s no routine; no ‘standard’ client or ‘standard’ issue”, he felt he’d  find it incredibly interesting, as well as extremely rewarding.

The element of problem solving and gathering of information that comes with the work done here, stood out to him also. After all, he’s a piano-playing physicist in the making, with a particular interest in finance and politics!

Mark had initially wanted to experience the working environment of an organisation constantly in the public eye, and the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere he walked into was unexpected. Everyone had a story, not only the clients, but also the volunteers and advisors too. There’s often a good, and perhaps unpredictable, reason that people find themselves with us.

Sophie and Mark learn about communications and campaigns, and interview each other for the blog.
Sophie and Mark learn about communications and campaigns, and interview each other for the blog.

An old case study that particularly stood out to him was the case study of an elderly woman, who, at the time, had found herself in significant financial distress. She had ended up spending somewhere in the region of 40% of her benefits on looking after the living costs of her pet. Initially after reading this, Mark told us that there was the obvious confusion and doubt about this seemingly bizarre decision of hers. However, after talking the case through with his supervisor, Mark found that the pet could have actually helped the woman with her struggling mental health.

This case enabled him to learn about the other, less factual side of the CA. We respect each and every one of our clients and do our best to help them move forward with their lives, in the right direction. We understand that there are reasons why our clients do the things they do and make the decisions they make.

Mark is now on his last day at the CA (Friday 15th July) and the one thing that he believes will stay with him the longest, is that just talking to someone can sometimes help more than the advice they are actually given.

Citizens Advice Hart wish Sophie and Mark every success for their future.   It was a pleasure to have them join us for the week.