I don’t have a profound disability, I’m not a full time carer, I wasn’t abandoned, neglected or abused as a child, I didn’t spend my childhood in care, I’m not homeless.
I’ve never been tortured, and I’ve never risked my life to stay alive. Some amongst us have.
I work with people who have already endured, or endure on a daily basis, more than many of us will face in a lifetime.
Sometimes vulnerable and socially disenfranchised people are treated like they simply don’t matter. I believe they do; and that is why I’m a Community Care Lawyer.
My background is as a Trade Union Rep and I was involved in representing employees who were badly treated by their employers. When I retired I wanted to continue to help so I volunteer at Central England Law Centre.
I want to ensure that those people who are vulnerable have access to legal services that can give them the opportunity to resolve their issues.
I‘ve always wanted to use my knowledge to help people that find themselves unable to fully understand their options and rights. This lack of understanding often leads to inequality, discrimination and worsening of the situation. Everyone has a fundamental right to be able to access assistance to understand how legal processes may affect their life. This is even more important to me when children are involved – as children are usually the forgotten victims.
In the journey I travel on with our clients through the duration of a case I often see the client’s confidence growing as they are more aware of what is happening, why it is happening and the choices they have. I work with clients from different walks of life. No day is the same as each client has different complications, often multiple problems and a different story to tell. Every day I learn something new from our clients, which helps me appreciate and understand the changing needs in today’s society.
As a solicitor specialising in family cases involving domestic violence and abuse, my best days are when we obtain positive outcomes for our clients, especially in cases which involve several of our teams working together. For example, a DV victim who is homeless and whose situation is complicated by her immigration status. These cases really show the amount of expertise we hold and how powerful it is when we combine it.
Sometimes the smaller things will make me happy – for example when a client thanks me for taking time to listen to her, when others don’t or are unwilling to. The best is when a client tells me she finally feels safe and not afraid after so many years.
I’m motivated by access to justice and being a voice for the vulnerable. I hope to be a person who cultivates a culture of putting value on people as human beings as opposed to the balance of their cheque books.
I’ve long been politically conscious and I’m increasingly alarmed by the scale of inequalities in society in general, and in respect of access to justice in particular.
There are not many ways you can genuinely make a difference to society, but the occupation you choose for yourself is one of them. By training to qualify as a legal aid lawyer I want to use the law as a tool to empower those individuals who are the most vulnerable.
Although our work may seem quite dry, there is always a human story between every eviction, injunction or benefit appeal. When you get the sense that you have created a rapport of trust with a client and they are no longer a passive recipient of legal advice but have started to take ownership of their case and are becoming empowered in the process, it’s just great.
It’s not always easy and you sometimes feel that the odds are stacked against you, but regularly you make a genuine difference to someone’s life by helping them keep a roof over their head or escape violence – and that’s what keeps me motivated to do this job.