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My time as a Shelter Scotland volunteer began in 2013, half way through my studies in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow; a four year degree programme dominated by austerity and welfare reforms. Seeing how much of a challenge individuals and families were facing I felt an obligation to do something to help. And so I contacted Shelter Scotland.

After arranging a meeting with the highly dedicated Volunteer Co-ordinator Donna Morris, I jumped on board and began undertaking the mandatory E-learning modules while waiting excitedly to find out which service I would be involved with.  Upon finding out that I would be part of a new and innovative Digital Advice service, I got to work on achieving a National Standards Type 1 Certificate in Housing Law, Information and Advice.  This was a very interesting insight into breadth and width of issues Shelter Scotland employees experience every day.

Once my training was over, and after a few practice chats,  it was time to go ‘live’ on the pilot Digital Advice scheme.  It quickly became apparent that no two days would be the same and that those three hours I spent each week in Shelter Scotland’s Glasgow office would be both fascinating and incredibly rewarding.

Today, after a very successful pilot, Shelter Scotland’s Digital Advice Service now provides a live chat service to visitors to the organisation’s website.  We now have a full-time Digital Advice Co-ordinator Yvonne, who is not only enthusiastic and approachable, but also incredibly knowledgeable on all matters relating to housing.  Yvonne has played an important role in developing the service as well managing an expanding team of volunteers.

Yvonne and our team of Digital Volunteers

As an online chat agent, I help to navigate our client’s around our website, which provides a vast array of information on housing and homelessness issues. I also provide initial advice and actively sign post clients to other organisations when this is appropriate. For example, where client has an inquiry about housing benefit entitlement it may be most appropriate to guide them the UK Government benefits calculator.

The range of issues I come across each week is perhaps best described as infinite. The enquiries can be anything from issues on deposits for private rented accommodation, to clients facing eviction.  The most rewarding part of this role is being able help our clients on such a wide range enquiries and helping to put people’s minds at ease in times of worry and distress.

The team at Shelter Scotland have made me feel incredibly welcome and I look forward to the time I spend in the office.  Each and every person involved with Shelter Scotland is passionate about working towards everyone in Scotland having not just a roof over their head, but a safe and secure house that can be called Home.  I would encourage anyone to join Shelter Scotland on this hugely important mission.

If you are interested in volunteering with Shetler Scotland, visit our website at shelterscotland.org/volunteer or contact the team at:  volunteerscotland@shelter.org.uk.

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