Statement by the Citizens Information Board Regarding the Changed Roles of Volunteers in the Citizens Information Service Companies
The Citizens Information Board is the funder of the eight regional Citizens Information Service (CIS) companies. CIS are a trusted source of information, advice and advocacy. The CIS companies have a long tradition of volunteering and the contributions of volunteers are highly valued. CIS companies are governed by voluntary boards.
During the pandemic, the CIS underwent a number of significant changes. Citizens Information Centres were often unable to offer a drop-in service because of public health restrictions. As the pandemic progressed, employees in the centres quickly adapted to the use of digital services, phone services and offering limited appointments, which led to a change in the way people use the service. The pace and scale of changes over two years was unprecedented. During this time, volunteers were no longer active in providing information.
Beginning in 2021, the Citizens Information Board worked with the independent regional companies on how best to re-engage volunteers, with a requirement that the provision of information be led by CIS employees. This was to continue the delivery of a sustainable, high quality service for members of the public and to reflect the role of volunteers following dramatic changes in the information environment during the pandemic.
A strategy was developed by the regional CIS companies for volunteers to return to support the operation of Citizens Information Centres. Examples of work that volunteers in the CIS will continue to carry out include vital client support roles including calculations for entitlements, assistance with completing applications and signposting. Volunteers with expert knowledge will be encouraged to provide specialist clinics, for example, in tax or social welfare advice.
As this strategy is being implemented, the regional CIS companies are engaging directly with their volunteers. The CIS companies continue to welcome volunteers and to be hugely appreciative of the support they provide and the contribution they make to their communities.
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