[access-uk] Off topic: Access and training with Citizens Advice Buerau

  • From: "Jackie Cairns" <cairnsplace@xxxxxxx>
  • To: "Access UK Mailing List" <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2008 22:11:29 -0000

Hi All

Apologies for the cross-posting of this topic, but I would appreciate any views 
as it is an access issue that does involve the Internet to a certain degree.

Exactly a year ago, I decided to contact Citizens Advice Bureau with a view to 
becoming a volunteer Adviser.  Unfortunately, when I went to my local office 
and tried to queue up to see someone about it, the person on duty literally 
slammed the door in my face when I tried to make a polite enquiry.  Hurt, but 
not daunted, I contacted their Head Office in Edinburgh, and was told that they 
were unsure if blind people ever did advisory work, but would find out and get 
the relevant people in my locality to contact me.  I'm still waiting ...

My son, Ian, is currently looking for another job as rumour has it that Comet 
may be making him redundant in their usual cost-cutting drive.  While he was 
scanning the local paper today, he came across the Citizens Advice Bureau 
advertisement for volunteers in our area again, which stated that they are 
commencing training in late February.

I am really keen to get involved in this for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it 
is community-based and something I could lend my skills to.  Secondly, there 
would be a wide variety of topics to deal with, and I would find it extremely 
challenging and worthwhile.

But what can I do if they become defensive about my blindness, or negative 
towards having a blind volunteer?  Could I shove the DDA up their noses because 
it is only volunteering, or complain to anyone if they don't accept me onto 
their training programme?  One of the reasons they cited for my unsuitability 
last year - bearing in mind I never even got an interview - was that I couldn't 
access the paperwork required to complete my training, or help clients complete 
benefit claims and other forms.  But my understanding is that most, if not all, 
of this is online now.

Does anyone have a view about this?  Has anyone done any CAB work or welfare 
rights who could speak firsthand of their difficulties with materials or even 
clients in a general sense?

I would very much welcome your views as I want to proceed, but need to be 
prepared for another door slam.


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