No-one has to volunteer - it is not a duty or a job. We do it out of care for the people who need help and the motivation to give back to society. As a volunteer with the PSU, I have seen a number of cases when the client left the office in tears of joy, because they knew there was help available for them.
One such case was of a man, Arnold*, in his late 60s, who was living in a rented flat. His brother and his brother’s wife had taken over his house for over 8 years and were selling drugs and sending death threats to him.
Arnold came to the PSU by referral from the court staff and all he wanted was the moral and emotional support of somebody accompanying him to court. It made a great difference to Arnold, knowing that someone was looking out for him. I accompanied him to court where he got an injunction against his brother and his wife, meaning they would be evicted from his house.
As soon as we left the courtroom, Arnold burst into tears and could not thank me enough for the moral support I had provided just by sitting next to him in court and providing some kind words and information. He gave exceptionally positive feedback to me and the whole PSU Birmingham office. This is one of the many success stories I have encountered as a PSU volunteer.
When I signed up to volunteer at the Personal Support Unit, I had no idea what to expect. Training lasted a few days and what I learnt in that time was invaluable.
I met many clients who required general help with applications, the court procedure and what support they could receive. No other previous volunteering experience quite matched it, and I was pushed into the court arena head first.
As a pupil barrister, volunteering at the PSU taught me how to handle clients, both easy and difficult, as well as how to support litigants in person in court. Not only did I learn how the court process works, but I also came away knowing that I had helped people, some of whom were in extremely vulnerable situations. Acting as a shoulder to cry on also came as part of the role.
Volunteering at the PSU enables you to develop your communication skills with people from various backgrounds, in addition to managing many clients at once. If you hope to work as a barrister or solicitor one day, this is the role for you.
I really enjoyed my time at PSU, not to mention all the free cups of tea!
*names changed for confidentiality