Citizens Advice Project
OLA works directly with Citizens Advice (formerly Citizens Advice Bureau) in Oxford allowing students to provide support to the organisation’s workers and volunteers.
Currently the scheme is designed to allow the students the opportunity to become trained in understanding the social policy aspect of the work that Citizens Advice is involved in. This policy work is vital to Citizens Advice both nationally and regionally. Recognising patterns and trends in aspects of society such as in housing, debt or immigration allows Citizens Advice to predict future problems. It also means that importantly, through work such as campaigns, Citizens Advice is able to make real changes to these problems benefiting large groups in society.
The students spend a large amount of time becoming fully trained in such areas before moving on to more direct involvement. As this is a new scheme there are soon to be further changes and development of the current involvement of the Oxford Legal Assistance.
Profiles of our Volunteers:
We asked our CAB volunteers why they work with our programme and what they feel they get out of it. This is what they said:
Ashley, former CAB Liaison Officer:
My name is Ashley and I am a second year Law with French Law student at Christ Church, Oxford University. I have worked as part of the Oxford Legal Assistance programme since the beginning of the academic year and I am head of the team working in the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. I am enjoy being part of the wider CAB team as their pro-bono work is renowned nationally and it is a pleasure to be a part of their team. I have enjoyed watching my own volunteers working side-by-side with those at the CAB in order to tackle issues of social policy, and it is refreshing to my own legal studies to bring a new dimension to how the law affects citizens. The more I have worked with the CAB I have realised how important their work really is and I am proud to be a part of such a programme that helps those that need it the most.
Toyo, current volunteer:
“I wanted to volunteer for Citizens Advice as it appeared to be an organisation which is an invaluable asset to local communities, and it has proved to be exactly just that. During my time as a volunteer, one of the things that has impressed me the most is that organisation’s ability to offer assistance on such a wide breadth of matters, often to those who are the weakest and most vulnerable in society. Citizens Advice helps people from such a diverse range of backgrounds, and strives to make its resources and guidance as accessible to as many different types of people. What I also particularly like about Citizens Advice, is that the organisation does not just work with individuals, but also the institutions that impact their lives. For example I have been involved in collating information about letting agents and banks in Oxford to help the organisation deal with common consumer issues with these two types of service providers.”
Matthew, current volunteer:
“My work with Citizens Advice through OLA has been an extremely fulfilling experience. It has provided me with a chance to see the practical application of various elements of my degree and in addition, it has also given me a chance to apply that knowledge in a meaningful way. I’ve also relished contributing to national campaigns which, hopefully, will have a lasting impact across the UK. Getting to know and working with the rest of the OLA team and the staff at Oxford CAB made the experience even better, and I’m extremely glad I took part in the scheme.”
Dan, current volunteer:
“I decided to volunteer for Citizens Advice as my dad has worked in our local branch of the charity for nearly a decade, and I have seen the positive benefits the organisation accords our community. Working in the Oxford branch of Citizens Advice through OLA has not only allowed me to apply my law degree in practice for the first time, but has also helped me connect with the wider Oxford community in a way that I feel would be beneficial to any student. Moreover, engaging with the social campaigns the organisation helps run has given me a key insight into the systematic problems many in our society face, and has motivated me to become more politically alert in future. Citizens Advice has proven to be a wonderful and worthwhile cause to engage with, and I am very glad I was successful in my application to volunteer for the charity and thus able to take part in the scheme.”
Weng, current volunteer:
“I find the volunteer work we do at the Oxford Legal Assistance with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau challenging but satisfying. It’s a great opportunity to observe how social policy affects the local community, and a timely reminder of the practical impact of law in the lives of citizens. At the same time, the programme is a fantastic way of contributing towards improving those policies. The projects and surveys we conduct are aimed towards bolstering the Bureau’s social advocacy efforts and advice services, and that can help the community in Oxford in very real ways.”