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VOLUNTEERING AT SOUTH WEST LONDON LAW CENTRES

We rely on a team of dedicated volunteers who support the team and allow us to help more people every year. 

 

Nikhita Saggu has been a casework volunteer at our Morden office for over a year whilst and studying the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law. She completed her LLB at the University of Nottingham and a Masters at Queen Mary, University of London.

 

Sam Biendarra has been volunteering at the Croydon branch of SWLLC, taking calls at reception as well as providing regular assistance with casework, for over a year. Having just finished his LLB at the University of London, he has also studied Architectural Draughtsmanship in Germany.

 

What attracted you to volunteer at SWLLC?

 

Nikhita: I was attracted to the Law Centre because I wanted to gain legal experience in an environment where I could contribute to having an important impact on someone’s life. I was interested in experiencing the areas of law which the Law Centre deals with, and wanted some first-hand experience in working on a variety of cases. 

Sam: Initially I came across the Law Centre by reading an interview from a trainee who volunteered at the Law Centre. What struck me was the enthusiasm; everybody was working here for vulnerable clients with a spirit of 'sleeves up', which came across from the first day. It has not changed one single day since I started in 2016.

 

What have you gained from the experience?

 

N: I am always given thorough feedback on any work that I complete for the caseworkers, which has enabled me to develop and enhance my legal writing and drafting skills. Furthermore, when I started at the Law Centre, I had a very limited knowledge of housing law, however I now have a sound understanding of the law relating to housing possession cases, succession cases, and appeals against homelessness decisions. Before starting work on a new case, my superviror Leena will ensure that I understand the law we are using for the benefit of a particular client.

S: We are advising and writing referrals for 10 people per day at the reception and taking 50-70 calls each, sometimes more when it gets busy, in matters which range from neighbourhood disputes, employment to domestic violence and asylum requests. This truly gives you the opportunity serve the client in person. It is challenging and absolutely rewarding at the same time, listening and then working to disentangle the legal issue as a first step to helping the client.

 

What are you most proud of during your time volunteering?

 

N: One memorable case is where I was helping with a defence of a vulnerable woman in her 50s who had a possession case against her due to the anti-social behaviour and criminal convictions of her son who did not live at the property. The client had a number of health issues, and the reason the case is memorable is because of how hard we had to work to ensure that all evidence was available to show the vulnerability of the client. Although the case didn’t go to court because the claimant decided to settle, the case is memorable because the client was at risk of losing her home through no fault of her own, and we were able to stop this from happening and also ensure that the client was transferred to a more suitable property.

S: Every time speaking to a client I have the opportunity to be a small part of the process as the starting point in helping an individual to get out of sometimes puzzled and often worrying situations. This is the reason I have kept coming back the past year!

 

Many of our volunteers have gone onto successful legal careers using the skills gained from being part of the team at the busy Law Centre. If you would like to know more about volunteering at SWLLC, find out more here.