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VOLUNTEER BLOG - 'An insight into the life of a HCLC volunteer' by Claire Mayo

26/10/2015

Claire Mayo"As a recent graduate in Law, from the University of Warwick, I decided to use some of my time to volunteer at Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC).

 

Volunteering once a week has allowed me to gain a remarkable insight into the excellent work that Hackney Law Centre is doing for its local community. During the last month, I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful solicitors and interns, being given the responsibility of conducting client meetings, drafting letters and undertaking data administrative tasks.

 

Working with clients who are facing the prospect of being made homeless the next day, not knowing where their family will sleep the following night, has really opened my eyes to the current housing crisis we are facing. There seems to be no end to the rising cost of renting in London, with an increasing number of families being pushed out of their homes and forced to stay in unsuitable emergency accommodation.

 

From my first day of volunteering, it was abundantly clear the extent that the legal aid cuts have affected the law centre and the community of Hackney. There is no typical day volunteering at the law centre; turning up in the morning not knowing who the clients will be, or what aspects of housing law I will have the opportunity to learn more about.

 

What has been constant throughout my time though, is the sense that I am part of an organisation that is really making a difference to the local community. The clients that come into the law centre often come as their last port of call when there is no one else to turn to and they need representation to ensure they can enforce their legal rights. I have gained a lot more from my time at the law centre than simply putting the practical skills that I learnt throughout my degree to use.

 

The support and guidance that HCLC housing solicitor Sara Taylor has given me, has allowed me to develop skills which will be invaluable throughout my career. I have had the opportunity to become thoroughly involved in the cases that the law centre is working on and have had the chance to put my thoughts and ideas forward when working on a case.

 

I have been able to see first hand the positive impact that the law centre is having in Hackney, helping those who are the most vulnerable in society. Having only been here for a month, I am excited to see what challenges and opportunities the next couple of months volunteering will bring."

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