SINCE Trevor Davies became an adviser for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) six years ago, he has helped hundreds of clients through some of the toughest times in their lives.
The 67-year-old, of Winchelsea Gardens, Worthing, is one of many volunteers who work for the charity, and is urging more people to come forward.
He said: “When I retired from work, I had six months off, then I started to look around for something to do.
“From a list of companies and organisations I picked the CAB, because it seemed to have a variety of different possibilities.
“I also thought that I had enough life experience to be able to help others.
“I spent 40 years in the grocer trade, during which time I got made redundant three times, and I have also been married for 45 years, with three children and two grandchildren, have moved home 11 times and had a serious road traffic accident 25 years ago, resulting in a disability.
“Because I had to have eight operations as a result of that, I have experience of the NHS and also of personal accident claims, so I thought I had a lot to draw on all round.
“I knew nothing about the CAB whatsoever but I had it sold to me by the then manager David Chapman, who is now a councillor.
“It was made quite clear to me that it was not an easy option and that the learning process goes on because you have to go on top-up courses.
“But I did find that the professionalism, considering it is a voluntary organisation and a charity, was actually far greater than I had experienced in my 40 year career.
“The information system that we have on the computers here is also second to none, and I think it is significantly better than any others that I have seen because you can look up any issue on it and it is so reliable.”
Mr Davies’ role as an adviser is to conduct full advice appointments with clients, providing them with in-depth information on various issues.
He said: “It was two years before I could conduct my own interviews and my job is to understand what the problem is and try to help the best I can, but if not, direct that person to someone with more specialist knowledge.
“We have people who come in and cannot read or write, so we have to help them to sort out forms they may have been sent.
“It is not unusual for people to come in with a carrier bag full of letters that are unopened.”
Mr Davies said the main issues for clients are housing, debt and benefits, but others include employment issues, relationship problems, immigration and citizenship, consumer complaints and legal and court issues.
He said: “It is important for volunteers to be able to listen to people and be non-judgemental, as well as being accepting and open minded.
“We have a lot of people who come in here who are very emotional or quite angry, and you need the skills to be able to deal with that.
“The job is really about breaking things down for people. That is also where you get the satisfaction from making people feel better.
“Last Monday morning, we had 26 people in reception wanting appointments, which means that the message about what we do is slowly getting out there.”