Jennifer has been a Student Volunteering Ambassador for the last 3 years, since she started LSE in 2017 to study LLB Law. She’s has volunteered for multiple organisations, including IntoUniversity and the Free Legal Advice Centre of Toynbee Hall. In this blog, she reflects on her volunteering at Toynbee Hall and it’s relationship with her academic studies.
“I want to thank the entire IntoUniversity team of the North Islington Centre, and the Free Legal Advice Centre of Toynbee Hall for their faith in me.”
One Saturday afternoon, I was triaging a new client at the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) of Toynbee Hall. Hearing the client’s distress over potential homelessness, years of struggle with mental health and addiction, I felt rather small and powerless. Sitting there with my notebook and pen in hand. I have listened to many traumatic experiences over the phone and it’s never easy to listen to them. But being face-to-face with someone and seeing their immediate distress is incalculably worse. Nothing in your notes can help you then.
Volunteering has not completed my education, but rather it has begun it. It has stretched my education in an unpredictable way.
My FLAC supervisor told me that a volunteer’s greatest asset is consistent commitment. As I’ve volunteered at FLAC for almost 2 years, on a weekly basis, I’ve been able to start a project to develop public legal education from scratch, and brainstorm ideas for projects to improve the client experience and environment. Because I committed, I was given the opportunity to go beyond my current role, capabilities, and competencies.
Volunteering has been invigorating, challenging, and an incredible learning curve. It has shown me the benefits of studying law, but also the gaps in my skillset. It has acted as both complementary to my studies and as a counterbalance. I’ve realised that the more I’m surrounded by people I want to work and volunteer with, the more I commit and the more I want to contribute.
I am graduating this year and I’ve learnt that there is so much I don’t know.
Graduating and leaving London is hard. I will no longer be volunteering here and I will also be leaving the supportive community of LSE and especially the LSE Volunteer Centre. The Volunteer Centre has been a voice of encouragement for three years – and an attentive listener to all my random ideas. Thanks to them, I firmly believe that volunteering positively impacts the LSE community.
I would recommend volunteering to anyone and tell them they’ll change in unexpected ways.
If Jen has inspired you to volunteer, check out one of our other 100+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with David Coles, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. And why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.