As part of the project's commitment to recognise the work of our volunteers, whose dedication is relied upon, each team leader has been asked to nominate one outstanding volunteer for 2016. These volunteers will be showcased over the next four weeks.
Here from Sophie below:
I began volunteering at the Student Rights Service at the beginning of the year, and I already feel like I’ve learned a lot. Usually people have a long-winded story as to what has happened to their child at school. Most of the parents who call are incredibly stressed and do not know what to do as their child is in a lot of trouble at school. We can only give information related to education law, however there usually is a lot of other issues going on. This can be why a child is in trouble at school, but we have to stick to only giving information about the process a school has to follow when disciplining someone. A key skill is trying to balance being compassionate to the entire situation while trying to pick out the key pieces of information.
A memorable client I had was a dad, who was ringing up about his daughter. She was in year 10, and truanting from school. He wanted to know what to do, as she absolutely hated school but there was no way around her having to go until she was 16. Her dad explained that she had been truanting a lot recently because she had been helping her 16-year-old friend, who had thought she was pregnant. It was hard and the only thing I could do was tell the father that his child had no choice but to go to school. There is surprisingly a lack of options for children under 16 who really do not enjoy going to school, or children who enjoy it but really struggle due to things like disability or a tough family situation.
Volunteering with the Wellington Community Justice Project will be extremely helpful when I finish law school. I really enjoy my papers, however they are entirely theoretical. The CJP gives me practical and hands on experience with people. Essentially, every person I speak to I have to do a mini client interview on to get to the root of the problem. I’m actually involved in both Advocacy projects, so sometimes get to practice this twice a week in different situations. These skills will be vital when I eventually start practicing law. Volunteering is incredibly important, and not only as an extra to improve your own studies. As law students we have been given an opportunity to learn skills and knowledge that have the ability to help people. If you have the skills to help people, then why not give back to the community in whatever way you can?
I feel like I’m always at law school, but when I’m not there’s honestly nothing I enjoy more than curling up in bed with a good TV show. I’ve watched a lot of TV. To counter any possibly negative effects of this, I’ve had to learn to enjoy going to the gym. I also work doing admin for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and get to go the occasional free concert, which is awesome. Recently, I’ve gotten really into true crime podcasts and am always down for a good mystery story (be it fictional or real).
From here, I still have at least three years left at university. There is plenty of time to figure out what area of law I enjoy the most, whether it be through my studies or through volunteering. In the distant future, I think I would like to be a judge. I will definitely stay heavily involved with the CJP, as it is one of the most rewarding parts of law school.
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The Wellington Community Justice Project News Feed is maintained by our Secretary, Olivia Hyland.