At Charleston Academy, pupils in S6 have a unique opportunity to get involved in an innovative project that is run jointly by the school and the Inverness Citizens Advice Bureau.
By the time pupils get to S6 their minds begin to focus very much on the next part of their journey. That might take them to University or further education, into employment or an apprenticeship. Whatever they decide to do, our CAB partnership provides Charleston Academy pupils with an opportunity to get a unique qualification and also the chance to engage with and give something back to their own community.
The local CAB office is situated within Charleston Academy’s community building and through this important partnership our S6 pupils are given the opportunity to train as advisers.
Bureau staff within the community building train volunteer S6 pupils and provide on-going support to our pupils to fulfil a vital role for our local community. Pupils are trained to give advice and to provide local people with access to information relating to employment, managing debt, housing and other benefits, and a lot more.
By getting involved in the CAB project S6 pupils who have completed Highers in S5 have the chance to augment their qualifications with something a little different, the opportunity to give something back to the community, and to gain an important qualification.
Now in its third year, the project has received very positive feedback from our volunteer pupils, Bureau staff, and the local community, including community councillors and elected members of Highland Council.
Pupils volunteering can choose to receive training to become a counsellor or they can become involved in the administration of the local Bureau. The local Bureau also has an engaging blog. Pupils can choose to be involved in this, researching and updating information on a huge range of topics.
The Bureau acknowledge that for most pupils their priorities are their studies and qualifications, and so volunteer pupils are allowed to work flexibly. WIthin school, the CAB project is coordinated by Mrs Helen Hunter, Depute Rector. Mrs Hunter works in close collaboration with Jacqui MacLean, the local Youth CAB Coordinator.
Pupils getting involved in the CAB project are provided with a unique training opportunity and the experiences they gain can form an important contribution to personal statements for UCAS applications, CVs, and job applications.
As one recent volunteer said,
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the CAB youth project. The relaxed environment allows you to learn a lot of new information without feeling pressured by it. The skills I have learnt are ones which I’ll be sure to use throughout my entire life. Previous to the project, I had little to no knowledge of the benefit system and have found that learning about it has helped me gain a better understanding of current issues in our society. I would recommend it to anyone whether you know much about it or not, its a wonderful experience.”