Why I Volunteer

As a volunteer for the Research and Campaigns team at Citizens Advice Manchester, I am responsible for researching and collating evidence for use in campaigns for social change. During my short time with the charity so far, I have been involved in several projects; from an Energy campaign pushing for socially responsible tariffs, to promoting earlier access to legal aid and the lowering of the age barrier for the living wage.

I feel fortunate for having the opportunity to contribute to such an outstanding organisation, where I am surrounded by passionate people, motivated to fight for positive change in what can feel like an increasingly uncertain, perhaps even hostile, social environment, especially in light of recent and ongoing political change.

The most fulfilling aspect of volunteering with CAM has been the learning. Each week, my understanding of the hardships faced by the most vulnerable in our society grows. While it sounds cliché, it has enlightened me to the privileges that I have enjoyed in life. I once heard that ‘privilege’ is not about the things that you’ve been through, but about the things you haven’t had to go through; unlike many of CAB’s clients, I have not had to make the decision between feeding my family or heating my home, nor have I had to face the pressure of finding housing and employment following an abusive relationship, to name just a couple of examples. Volunteering with CAB has taught me the amount I take for granted, while providing a channel with which to assist those in need, and it is humbling.

Moreover, having been on the receiving end of CAM's support several years ago, the value of their work holds particular meaning. Following the rejection of a close family member’s application for Employment and Support Allowance in the midst of my first-year degree studies, I was fortunate to have received the guidance of CAM, and it was this positive experience which motivated me to join the organisation three years later.

I could not recommend volunteering with Citizens Advice Manchester enough. On top of the emotional fulfillment, volunteering has given me both the confidence and experience to pursue a career in the third sector, where I have always aspired to work. Shortly after joining the Research and Campaigns team, I made a successful application to the Community Transport Association, where I now work as a Policy Executive.

Suzanne Lau

Research & Campaigns Volunteer