Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice offers information and guidance across a range of issues, including energy bills, and serves as a free and safe resource for individuals in need. Due to recent societal and economic issues, their services have been inundated with unprecedented call volumes and they have been unable to help everyone. 

As part of our commitment to enable a clean, fair and affordable energy future and to support our communities to manage increasing energy costs we partnered with Citizens Advice.

We offered one-year secondments for our colleagues to work for Citizens Advice, as part of our Energy Support Fund and response to the cost-of-living crisis. 

To date 11 National Grid colleagues have participated in the secondment programme, which includes three months of intensive training and eight months of providing front-line advice and support through phone, webchat and emails working as generalist advisors. Volunteers can work from home and undertake various roles. Citizens Advice has over 20,000 volunteers across over 350 local branches in England and Wales, providing confidential advice in person, over the phone and online.

Tahlia Holder, one of our secondees, shares her experience

2023 was an exceptional year for me. Being afforded the opportunity to spend a year outside of the organisation, representing National Grid and serving my local community, was an unforgettable experience and is by far my proudest career achievement to date. 

National Grid colleague Tahlia Holder (R) volunteering at Citizens Advice in Bromley

The opportunity to recruit for the Citizens Advice voluntary secondments was presented to me as part of my role as People Business Partner to Corporate Affairs. It probably wasn't the 'done thing' to volunteer for a programme I was tasked with helping to coordinate, but it was too good an opportunity to miss! I’m immensely proud of the fact that I was one of the first to volunteer and encourage others to do the same.

I have acted as a coordinator for much of the programme (along with Grid for Good) and I'm proud of the videos and blog pieces I have participated in to talk about the programme, both for National Grid and Citizens Advice – one of the videos I was part of has received over 100,000 views on YouTube!! (I’ve come a long way for a shy person!)

I have had multiple opportunities to discuss my time in the programme and share my experiences as well as single-handedly arranging an event to thank all of the volunteers and Citizens Advice branches for participating in the programme. I have used my professional social media to fundraise on behalf of Citizens Advice and used social media to shine a light on the great work they do, as well as to highlight the generosity of National Grid for allowing such a pioneering venture to take place.

From a personal perspective, I have leapt out of my naturally reticent/shy comfort zone and have been a bit of a poster child for the programme – I have tried to grow focus and attention on the programme at every opportunity. The secondment opened doors for me and allowed me to speak at events I would not normally have had the opportunity to even be invited to. I'm so proud of this and I recognise a lot of personal growth in myself, both in terms of resilience and boldness – which was one of my aims of participating in the programme in the first place.

I saw up close, the effects of the cost-of-living crisis and uncovered a sub-culture of poverty and depravation that exists in plain sight. This was often hard to witness and frustrating not to be able to tackle in a long-term way, or provide permanent solutions, but I took pride in my small contributions and also feel that National Grid is the exemplar for taking community service and engagement seriously. We don’t live in a perfect world, but acknowledging this and doing something however big or small to provoke change is to be commended.

Lastly, I'm tremendously proud of the volunteers who have represented National Grid with professionalism, grace and commitment. They're a special group of people who capture the very spirit and culture of our caring organisation.

Swapping National Grid life for Citizens Advice – our employee secondment journey

We teamed up with Citizens Advice to offer 12 employees a one-year secondment to assist their local community. Find out about Tahlia and Gerard’s experience and the vital work they supported.

Watch our video