Volunteers Week takes place from 1 to 7 June each year and is an annual opportunity to recognise the enormous contribution that volunteers make to so many organisations across the country.
The Law Centre is no exception and we are extremely grateful to our wonderful volunteers who support our team in so many different ways – from being the first point of contact for new clients, to carrying out research and helping our expert advisers to progress their cases. And this is not to mention the hundreds of lawyers who volunteer in our legal advice clinics to give one-off legal advice to members of our community. We are grateful to each and every one of you!
Many of our volunteers choose to volunteer with us as a first step towards embarking on a legal career, perhaps volunteering alongside their studies, like Zaki who has been volunteering with us since June 2021. He said:
“I intend to pursue a career in law after I have finished my academic studies of history. With this in mind, I thought volunteering in the legal advice sector would be a fantastic way to get some hands on experience, and learn more about the day-to-day experience of legal aid.”
Zaki is the first point of contact for people who get in touch with the Law Centre having heard our weekly slots on the Big Breakfast Community Radio show. He helps with ensuring people are directed to the help they need or signposted elsewhere if we’re unable to help:
“Whilst a steep learning curve, this experience has massively increased both my knowledge and understanding of the everyday workings of legal aid. It has taught me both how much legal aid can offer, but also its limitations, and therefore enhanced my motivation to pursue a career in law.”
Zafirah volunteers as a legal administrator with us whilst studying for the Legal Practice Course. She explained why she chose to volunteer at the Law Centre:
“I decided to volunteer at SWLLC because it is a charity which makes a real difference to the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged people. I was drawn to the exposure to real-life social and legal issues, but more importantly I wanted to contribute to making a positive impact in the community.”
We believe volunteering is very much a two-way process and so we strive to ensure all our volunteers have the opportunity to develop useful skills and experience during their time with us. Zafirah reflected on some of the skills she has gained:
“Speaking to clients from a range of different backgrounds has developed my communication skills and also shaped my emotional intelligence, teaching me to be empathetic and patient. I have learned to listen and understand information quickly and accurately and deliver any necessary information clearly, while making sure the clients feel comfortable.”
Ri, who also volunteers as a legal administrator, agreed:
“The office environment gives me the opportunity to improve my problem solving and communication skills as we work with vulnerable clients who each have personalised needs.”
As well as the skills and experience gained, one of the things our volunteers most enjoy about their time with us is knowing that their contribution makes a tangible difference to people’s lives:
“Receiving positive feedback from clients when I am able to help them is what I have enjoyed most about volunteering.” Ri
“Volunteering at the Law Centre gives me a sense of achievement of helping vulnerable and disadvantaged people by allowing them to get justice.” Zafirah