Student Volunteering – Jessica’s Story

22 March 2024

Meet Jessica, a student volunteering with Citizens Advice 

Alongside her Criminology and Sociology degree, Jessica volunteers for Citizens Addvice as a Witness Service Volunteer – a role she discovered through Volunteer First

One to two days per week, Jessica attends court to support witnesses and their friends and family. 

She is currently in training, shadowing an accredited volunteer, but will eventually provide witnesses with information and advice about the court proceedings, as well as emotional support to help them feel more confident when giving evidence. 

After unsuccessfully applying for a role directly with Citizens Advice, she was offered the role through Community First’s volunteering service. 

“I needed volunteering experience for my degree and was recommended by my university Careers Advisor to visit the Volunteer First website. 

“The website was so straightforward to use. All I needed to do was put my postcode in and a little bit of information about the type of role I was interested in. I knew I wanted a role close to my studies and interest in criminology, so finding this one was brilliant.”  

Jessica hopes to become an accredited volunteer within six months, which involves online training and an assessment in court. She will then volunteer with Citizens Advice for 12 to 18 months. 

“I’m shadowing accredited volunteers to get as much experience as I can, seeing how they interact with witnesses and victims and address their concerns and needs for referral to other support services. It’s a lot of responsibility, especially to ensure we’re not interfering with the case. 

“Volunteering really feels like I am doing something valuable and making a difference to the lives of witnesses and their supporters.  

“It’s rewarding and fulfilling, being able to offer advice that will help someone. This role has taught me to be more appreciative, because some of the witnesses have been through a lot.” 

When asked if she recommends volunteering and if she had any advice for people considering becoming a volunteer, Jessica said: 

“Absolutely. I never thought I’d get an opportunity to volunteer in a role like this. I always thought volunteering roles were quite limited, but there is so much out there for every type of interest. You don’t need to be a specific type of person to volunteer – just have good intentions.”  

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