“One of the greatest gifts you can give, is your time”
Citizens Advice Witness Service is an independent and impartial service through which the volunteers support witnesses in court by giving information about the court process, give support before the trial and on the day.
I have started volunteering with CAWS in Coventry (as a court volunteer) during my first year of university and I have been doing it on a weekly basis ever since. It is a great opportunity for all law students and those interested in justice system or psychology, as it gives you a great insight in various court proceedings and different roles performed in the court. Not only is it a good way to get involved and support local community, but it is extremely rewarding experience on many levels for the volunteer.
Various witnesses and victims, who went through different, at times really tough experiences, attend the court. A volunteer must be able to support them and lead them through the process. Many times the experience had me getting out of my comfort zone to support really vulnerable people or communicate and co-work with legal professionals, which gave me a great deal of knowledge and skills at the end. Working as a part of the professional, but friendly and supportive team, along with the Court officials and Police, tackling new problems and being there for those who need help and support on the day, has definitely been the most challenging, but worthwhile volunteering experience for me. It gave me a chance to have an actual impact on other people’s lives, assisting them and emotionally supporting them when they needed it the most.
Volunteering with CAWS requires the volunteer to dedicate at least 2 full days a month, but the more you are able to give, the more experience you will get. The volunteer is provided with full training and constant support. I would genuinely encourage all those who want to commit to a volunteer role to try and apply! The skills, exposure to the professional environment and support of fellow volunteers make this experience valuable and unforgettable!
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