I was made aware of the amazing work ISCRE undertake through a mutual friend who thought I would be interested in volunteering there to gain hands-on legal experience as I had just completed my Undergraduate Degree in Law and was looking to pursue a career at the Legal Bar. I began volunteering as part of ISCRE’s wonderful Tackling Discrimination in the East project which provides free legal advice for those unlawfully discriminated against under the Equality Act 2010 in employment and goods and services. As a volunteer I am on hand to provide support and assistance to the legal advisors in any way I can. The variety of work I am asked to complete and diverse nature of legal problems we encounter on the project make volunteering both an exciting and rewarding experience.
The main body of work involves telephoning and drafting correspondence to clients in order to keep them updated on the progression of their case and chase-up any additional information we may require from them. Sometimes I provide assistance through conducting some individual legal research where I could be tasked with finding a legal precedent to strengthen our case or I could be asked to answer a very specific legal question. This gives me the independence to develop my research skills as well as the confidence to adopt creative solutions to sometimes original legal issues. I have been afforded the opportunity to draft a variety of important documents ranging from a letter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission to employment tribunal documents, an application to the Bar Pro-Bono Unit for legal representation to drafting statements from client interviews. Together, these tasks have helped hone my written communication skills and advanced my ability to convey complex ideas in a clear, concise and approachable manner. These skills are all incredibly valuable, comparable to those demanded and valued as a barrister.
From a broader perspective the work taken on by the Tackling Discrimination in the East project cannot be underestimated. The project offers advice and assurances to people during what is for many a stressful, complicated and very upsetting time. Challenging unlawful discrimination whether through conciliation, tribunals and hearings or through the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the project has made an impact in overcoming some of the social stigma and barriers which people still endure. It has helped people to be given fair and equal opportunities and the chance to be treated with the respect and dignity that every person deserves. Hopefully the advice and support given to our clients encourages them and those around them to stand up to unlawful discrimination and gives people the confidence and means to enforce their legal rights.
Volunteering at ISCRE provides the opportunity to work alongside the fantastic, warm and knowledgeable people who work tirelessly here. It is the perfect place for anyone looking to make a positive contribution towards tackling discrimination as well as those looking to gain an invaluable insight into the legal system and engage in some hands-on legal work. I would highly recommend volunteering at ISCRE.