Meet Tina, one of our court support volunteers 

You won't regret it.

Q: What made you want to volunteer with Pact?

A: I wanted to do something completely different to my working life. Being a court support volunteer is unusual and interesting and I am on a constant learning curve each time I attend the courts, even though I’ve been volunteering with Pact for about 15 months.

Q: What is your favourite part of your role?

A: My favourite part of the role meeting people throughout the court, be it service users (family members or defendants) or professionals.

Q: Tell us about what a typical volunteer day looks like for you?

A: I will start by checking the court listings, initially looking for any sentences in the two Crown Courts (courts that deal with serious criminal cases). This gives me the opportunity to identify and support any family members/friends of the defendant, especially if the trial results in a custodial (prison) sentence. The same principle applies to when I am in the Magistrates’ court (where all criminal cases start). I am always available for emotional and practical support regardless of the outcome of the case.

Q: What support have you had from Pact to help you as a volunteer?

A: Pact have sent me on a number of different training courses to help me in my role and I have constant support from my Volunteer Coordinator who is on hand to answer any questions I might have.

How long do you spend volunteering in a typical week or month?

A: I normally attend Court most Tuesdays, averaging about 6 hours per week.

Q: Can you tell us about a time/experience that’s made you feel good about volunteering?

A: One particular case stands out for me – it started over a year ago and has had two retrials. I first met the defendant’s wife at the first trial when she was sitting in the court’s café. After I introduced myself to her she said she didn’t want to sit in the public gallery as she would feel very uncomfortable sitting alongside members of the complainant’s family. I offered to sit with her but she still declined. Consequently I spend time with her chatting in the café and listening to her. The same thing happened at each trial (all three resulting in a not guilty verdict). I know that each time she saw me she was pleased to see a friendly face. She was always sitting alone so I was a welcome relief for her as someone to relieve a bit of the boredom but more importantly listen to her and empathise.

Q: Do you think anyone can be a volunteer? Why?

A: I think possibly anyone can be a volunteer, as long as you can be non-judgmental and you feel comfortable approaching people to offer your support. This role, and any kind of volunteering work, makes for an interesting way to enrich your life and help people/communities in need.

Q: Has volunteering taught you any new skills?

A: Yes! At first this role was totally out of my comfort zone. The biggest learning curve for me personally was the importance of never judging anyone on first impressions. I’ve also gained knowledge of lots of things I didn’t have before because of the various training courses I’ve attended.

Q: What makes volunteering with Pact special?

A:Pact supports defendants/prisoners and their extended families – people who are normally forgotten about throughout the court service and in prison. It can be challenging but also very interesting when you know you have helped people who are disadvantaged or shunned in the community.

Q: What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering with Pact?

A:Do it! The various roles within Pact are so different from anything I have come across when I was looking into doing volunteering work. You won’t regret it.

If you want to find out more about Tina's role or if you have any questions about volunteering with Pact, get in touch with us on [email protected].