I’m Claire and I’ve been a volunteer and peer supporter with Lawcare for around 6-7 years. It's been a fantastic organisation to be involved with.
I was previously employed as a solicitor and originally I became involved with Lawcare, after I had been critically ill and was taking a step back from working for a while. I saw it as a way of helping people but also keeping me connecting with the legal industry. From time to time I’ve volunteered on the helpline, but I’ve also been a peer supporter for others that have suffered life changing illness.
One of the real privileges of a helpline like this is the ability to properly empathise with some of the people who I have spoken to over the years. I’ve spoken to lots of people who phone because they are struggling with stress and the level of work they have, and I think it is very helpful to at the very least be able to say “I know exactly what you mean”. It normalises the feeling for them, and makes them know they are not alone.
One of things we are encouraged to do is to talk the problem through with the caller, to help them identify how they can take the issue forward and to encourage them to come up with a pathway that they can walk. I can think of several conversations I’ve had like this. It is so lovely for me to get to the end of a call and know the person I’ve been speaking to is leaving with some new items in their tool box to help them get through what they're experiencing, and can see a light at the end of the tunnel. People who’ve started off speaking in tears but ended up so much calmer. To know that they are leaving our conversation in a better place is just wonderful!
As I’ve mentioned I’ve also been a peer supporter, mainly for people with long term or critical illness. As a peer supporter you keep in contact with someone over a much longer period of time. For me, its been about supporting people through a period when they are trying to return to work. Again one of the real privileges of this is being able to say that I have stood where they have stood and understand what they are thinking, and have felt the anxieties they are feeling. When you’ve had a critical illness, just going to work presents you with a whole new set of issues you’ve never experienced before and it can be an exceptionally bumpy ride, often feeling like you are taking one step forward and two steps back. It is truly amazing for me to walk that journey with another person, knowing that I have also taken those steps, but also to walk with them for a time, to a place when the rollercoaster is less bumpy.
I would really encourage anyone who is thinking of volunteering for Lawcare, to do so. I know people I’ve spoken to who just appreciate speaking to another lawyer and so they know I understand the stresses they are facing. We’ve all experienced points in our lives when we’ve struggled with something – illness, addiction, anxiety, stress, mental health issues,work life balance – and so we’ve all got something to offer to others.
Subscribe to our free quarterly newsletter and updates
You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will treat your information with respect. More information about our privacy practices is on our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.’