My name is Alistair Atkinson and I am currently a student at Leeds University studying International Relations and planning to do a law conversion. As an aspiring lawyer I wanted to volunteer with Citizens Advice in order to see first-hand how the law affects people’s lives in addition to developing my research and communication skills. I also saw it as an opportunity to help people in my local community and learn more about Citizens Advice. I have thoroughly enjoyed my work experience as I have found it to be incredibly fulfilling and all of the volunteers, supervisors and advisers I have met have been so friendly and welcoming. It has been so eye opening to see the struggles some people face on a daily basis and this has really put things into perspective for me. I really enjoyed shadowing different people in the Research and Campaigns team as it allowed me to see the variety of roles that make up the department and how they are vital for it to function effectively. I also particularly enjoyed shadowing the drop-in advice session as it allowed me to observe face-to-face interactions with clients and see how they are dealt with by the advisers. It was also a very rewarding experience to be given the responsibility of writing up a narrative of a media willing client and draw up some questions in order to interview her about her experience of claiming benefits. On my penultimate day of volunteering I was given the opportunity to go out of my comfort zone by promoting the Letchworth Financial Health project at a stall in Letchworth town centre; approaching people to see if they would like to learn more about it. This was a rewarding experience as it allowed me to significantly develop my communication skills through interacting with members of the public and explaining to them in a clear and concise manner the project we were promoting. In summary, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Citizens Advice North Herts and very much hope to carry on as a volunteer.
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