CHELSEY Thomson is only 20 years of age and already she is changing lives as Harlow’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s new recruitment officer.
She took up the new position in December 2016 and now manages paid employees as well as unpaid volunteers. ‘It is an indescribable feeling being somebody’s form of support and changing their whole day around, I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else,’ she explained.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) offers free walk-in appointments to anyone who requires advice on issues such as debt, housing, immigration and more.
The local authorities, including Harlow Town Council, fund the CAB along with donations from the public, all of which help to keep the Bureau open for five days a week.
Volunteers are essential for the survival of the CAB and Maher Jarkas, 57, knows only too well the commitment and motivation that are required.
Maher, who travelled to the UK from the Middle East two years ago and now lives in Harlow, felt as though he wanted to provide help to people who needed it.
Debt is one of the biggest issues that people require advice on. Maher said: ‘People fall into debt through the use of credit cards. I have had many cases where people gamble their money away.’
Speaking of his volunteering work, Maher said: ‘I wanted to do something in return for the community. I have never had a job like this before, one that completely satisfies me and brings me happiness. I look forward to coming here everyday.’
Chelsey said: ‘We are in discussion with Maher to give him paid work. We try and find our volunteers paid work as often as we can if they want to go further in this industry. Volunteers are always needed.’
If you wish to donate, head to: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/citizensadviceharlow.
All photos taken by Leah Bloxham.