This article was written in support of National Pro Bono Week, running from 2–6 November 2015.
National Pro Bono Week is a nationwide campaign to celebrate the range and impact of voluntary free legal services provided by the legal profession. Support the campaign on Twitter using #NPBW2015 and #WeDoProBono
What is your position and what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I am the PSU Bristol Coordinator. My role is primarily about ensuring the PSU service is available to clients in the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre. The daily priority is to ensure that we have enough volunteers available, but my role also involves recruiting and training volunteers, promoting the service throughout the city and fundraising the keep the service free to clients.
How long have you been in this role and what brought you here?
I opened the Bristol unit in January 2014. After many years in the corporate world I really felt I needed to fo something with more of a human outcome and rook a redundancy package in 2012 without any real idea of exactly what I was going to do. After working for the British Red Cross for most of 2013 I was clear that I wanted to continue working in the voluntary sector and that led me to the PSU.
What are the people you work for/with like? Any memorable stories?
The PSU volunteers are the heart and soul of the organisation; from students to retired, they all bring a special individuality with them, and I never cease to be inspired by the patience and compassion they offer clients.
What is the best and worst part of the day for you?
Worst is seeing a client lose something very important to them, such as their home or contact with their child.
Best is seeing the relief a client feels when they realise they are not alone, and also seeing a volunteer's confidence grow as they help clients to navigate the court process.
The hugely positive feedback from clients about the support they receive from a PSU volunteer, plus working with such a diverse range of volunteers. Also, working for an organisation that is a thousand miles from my corporate life, and having the autonomy to run the Bristol operation in my own way without too many spreadsheets!
Tea or coffee?
What would you say to anyone thinking of a career in your field?
It's not for everyone, but if you want to make a real difference to people at a very intense and stressful point in their lives there's nothing better.
Also, if you want to develop your overall business skills, the range of activities a PSU coordinator gets involved in is extremely broad; it's like running your own organisation, but with plenty of support when you need it.
What song do you listen to the most?
At the moment, 'The Mona Lisa' by Brad Paisley.
How do you enjoy your time outside of work?
Walking generally, and walking our dog, Bruce, specifically.
If you could change one thing about the family justice system what would it be and why?
The forms! They need to be less overwhelming for litigants in person to complete.Follow the Personal Support Unit on Twitter: @CourtBasedPSU