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Volunteering at Advice Portsmouth

Volunteering at Advice Portsmouth is a great way for students to get real-world, practical experience. It’s also a great way to build confidence by helping people! We asked Laruen to tell us about her experiences at Advice Portsmouth.

I started at Advice Portsmouth as a Volunteer Trainee Student Adviser. It was in October 2021, during the final year of my law degree. I was given the opportunity as part of the completion of my degree at the University of Portsmouth.

Each and every member of the Advice Portsmouth team welcomed me warmly. Something I’ve seen them do for every client who walks through the door!

All the advisers work hard and are constantly busy dealing with phone enquiries and face-to-face appointments. However, they always make time to share their expertise and assist my learning and development.

I started by shadowing Advice Portsmouth’s frontline advisers; sitting in on their appointments and telephone enquiries. Then, further down the line, I began to take phone enquiries and lead appointments with their support. I’ve been involved in a wide range of different matters, from welfare benefits to family matters.

advice portsmouth team
the front of advice Portsmouth's building

My desire to do well in this role is driven by watching the frontline advisers go above and beyond. The clients really appreciate it and it’s clear that Advice Portsmouth is making a big difference in their lives.

Getting help

From the start I’ve been encouraged to develop my advice skills, and been fully supported in doing so without being ‘thrown in the deep end’! I feel as though I have come a long way since October, and seen huge improvement in my research and client communication skills. And in my confidence!

While I’ve had the opportunity to develop independence in my ability to advise clients, I’ve never been unable or hesitant to ask for help. My ‘induction buddy’ is incredibly friendly and supportive, and excellent at what they do. As is the whole team!

In five short months I’ve transitioned from a nervous student to feeling like a member of the team. And I can contribute meaningfully. It feels incredibly rewarding. I’m so grateful that I was given the opportunity to have this experience. I look forward to my time at Advice Portsmouth every week.

Following my graduation, I plan to do a Legal Practice Course so that I can become a solicitor. Volunteering has made me certain that this is the path I would like to take. It’s been invaluable in assisting me on that path.

I’ve learnt a lot more from volunteering at Advice Portsmouth than I ever could in a classroom. I’ve gained more valuable experience than I possibly could have by writing essays in the university library!

The team at Advice Portsmouth are so dedicated they were recently awarded the Freedom of the City of Portsmouth Certificate!

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