Research and Campaigns

Suzanne's story

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.

As a service we hold a huge amount of insight and data about the problems our clients and their wider communities face. We use this information to help us research issues further, to influence decision makers to change policies and practices and to campaign to get policies and practices changed.

The research and campaigns role is ideally suited to people with previous research and campaigns experience, good report writing skills and the ability to analyse complex information.

These are some of the things you could be doing as a Research and Campaigns Volunteer: 

  • Monitoring trends in enquiries, to identify issues for potential local or national research and campaigns work.
  • Undertaking relevant research around key campaign topics online and through direct contact with clients and members of the public.
  • Collating and recording information.
  • Conducting statistical analysis and/or qualitative content analysis.
  • Writing reports to explain findings to different audiences - including policy/decision makers and the general public. 
  • Supporting campaigns work at events in the community.

Where and when can I volunteer? 

This role is based in our city centre offices. Our office opening hours are 9.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday. All volunteer roles, with the exception of ad hoc events are carried out during these hours. Volunteers are expected to commit to a minimum of three hours per week in this role. 

Will there be training? 

The initial training for the research and campaigns role consists of e-learning and some self study. There is also the opportunity to attend further training courses. 

What opportunities are there to progress? 

All of our volunteers are given the opportunity to progress to other roles within the organisation once they have demonstrated three months commitment in their original role.