Mel: Volunteering here is not about making tea: I never stop learning!

I have been only volunteering at Suffolk Law Centre for about a month. The first week, I did full-time, and since then I’ve been coming in for two days a week. I feel like I’ve been here for longer though. I am volunteering for two reasons: firstly, as a law student I had to find a legal placement for one of my modules, and I struggled with this at first. The initial placement didn’t meet the course requirements, so I had to find another and I tried a number of places, but either I wasn’t successful or they weren’t ready to recruit volunteers. Then my supervisor recommended ISCRE. I had a look on the website, and saw that you specialise in discrimination and equality – things that I really care about, and have been important to me from childhood – so I applied and came in for an induction. But Audrey wasn’t in the office on my induction day, so I met with Phanuel, and after 2 hours talking with him and seeing just how passionate he was about the work of ISCRE, and I couldn’t help but be passionate about it too! The work here is so important – although in my opinion not funded as well as it should be – I just had to come and volunteer for you.

So far, I have worked wherever I’m needed, so there hasn’t been any set role assigned to me. The first few days when I came in, I’d go straight to see Audrey and she would give me case files to work through, to put papers in order, check through for any errors and proof reading – she even sat me down and explained discrimination law, and then asked for my opinion on what the discrimination was in a specific case. So, by looking at cases and asking my perspective, she is training me to see if I can identify the discrimination. I find the cases interesting. When I first met Audrey, she warned me that volunteering here wasn’t about making tea, and that Suffolk Law Centre deal with a lot of cases, and a lot of paper work, and she said that if you don’t like paperwork, being a solicitor isn’t for you. After those first few days, I really began to enjoy handling the paperwork, reading through the cases, seeing what sort of discrimination that people face and what they are going through. I find it quite fascinating. I talk to my mum every week, and I told her about my placement. She knew the problems I’d had finding one, so she was really happy said that it sounded like I had found my comfort zone.

I’m split between 2 choices about what to do next – I might do the Legal Practice Course to qualify to be a solicitor, but although I do like aspects of the law and I do enjoy reading cases and helping people, I’m not completely sure if I want to be a solicitor. I might look at other routes to becoming a legal advisor, as it’s less formal I think, particularly in the charitable sector.

I go to the gym quite often, about 3 -4 times a week, I’m active in my church and at university as well, and help plan events for students. Last weekend I helped plan an event with the university chaplain and other students, to create a peaceful, relaxing event for students who are stressed out about exams – it was open for everyone to come and listen to peaceful music and relax. I’m also taking driving lessons, and I’ve just started swimming lessons which I should have done ages ago, so I’m busy – I don’t think you should ever stop learning!