The Joy of Volunteering


The Caritas Volunteer Service links would-be-volunteers with organisations seeking to recruit people. This story shows how the connection can lead to real benefits for the individual, the charity and ultimately the people the organisation is serving.

This Lent, we are sharing many stories of volunteers, and inviting you to explore the idea of volunteering.

Pat and Renata

Pat Fernandes is a manager at the charity
Advice for Renters, working on their
Debt Advice programme, A4R Money.
Renata is a young woman who used the
Caritas Volunteer Service during the pandemic,
and found a role working with Pat

Pat recalls how she first met Renata:

“Renata applied to us originally to volunteer as a receptionist.  At the time, due to Covid, we were no longer seeing people in our office however we desperately needed assistance to deal with the additional demands of people struggling financially.  We invited Renata for a chat and it became evident that she had so much more to offer including being bilingual.  Renata initially became our Client Liaison Co-ordinator supporting new clients who were often distressed, confused and overwhelmed by their circumstances and often dealing with clients with who have English as a second language or mental health issues. She helped them to get their paperwork together before seeing our debt advisers. 

“Renata has been praised and commended for her patience and empathy by clients and for her attention to detail by colleagues.”

Renata explains how she used the Caritas Volunteer Service and what it was like to volunteer with Advice for Renters.

“I found out about Caritas volunteer service, through a friend who was volunteering for Caritas in Germany.

“After checking the website and learning more about its program reading and watching the video from the volunteer fair, I decided to apply. There were many open opportunities on the website and I applied for the receptionist position at Advice for Renters Money. My application was successful and after a call and interview I was offered a position to help the Financial Inclusion team as Client Liaison Coordinator.

“Volunteering at Advice for Renters Money has been a wonderful journey of learning how to deal with vulnerable people and how every hour working there could make an immense impact on other people’s lives.  Since the first contact with a new client over the phone or in a face-to-face appointment, it is crucial to have the right attitude showing empathy and ensuring they feel they are in a safe place.

“Some of the clients are referred to us by other organisations. We can start the case from there or signposting to a third organisation, depending on the client’s situation. We can offer help for people who are struggling to pay their rent and are at the risk of being evicted. Also, people who are having 
difficulties paying their utility bills and have other debts. In addition to that, we can provide Welfare Advice, in this case I can check the eligibility and book an appointment with the Welfare and Benefits adviser.

“The clients can have financial support by learning how to budget themselves as well as get some small cash for an emergency.”

Pat has high hopes for Renata in the future, she says

Within the few months that she has been volunteering with us, Renata has gone on to support many clients through their entire financial journey becoming an invaluable part of our team and exceeding all of our expectations.  

“I am so grateful to the Caritas Volunteer Service for finding us such a remarkable young woman and wonderful volunteer.”

Renata has found fulfilment and happiness, and is now in paid work:
The whole team is beyond well trained, supportive and fun. They offered me plenty of training through the organisation and with our partners which makes me feel more prepared and happy whilst gaining knowledge. Those tools help me to deal with different scenarios I have to face with the clients.

I couldn’t be happier with the whole experience of volunteering . It has helped me to learn a lot while working in a joyful atmosphere as well as helping people from my community. I spent 6 months working as a volunteer at Advice For Renters, I’m still in contact with all of them as we become not only colleagues but friends. The experience has helped me get a permanent job. I am now working for Little Village – a charity I came into contact with whilst at Advice for Renters.”

Read more stories about volunteers here – Why We Love Volunteering

Find out about Firm Foundations, the training programme for project volunteers and staff run by Caritas Westminster in partnership with Advice for Renters


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