Finding hope that the law can protect women: my experience as a volunteer at Rights of Women
I think the law can sometimes feel so full of long words and wigs that it seems very far away from a system that was built to protect everyday people. As a first-year law student, I must confess that the intimidating vastness of it all can feel overwhelming at times. However, when I started volunteering with Rights of Women, I began to see how in the right hands, law is an enormous protection. Volunteering with Rights of Women has demonstrated to me that the value of educating women, myself included, how to utilise the law cannot be overstated.
I have had the pleasure of volunteering with Rights of Women (RoW) in a role that was once Office Volunteer, and has since become Home Volunteer following March 2020. I have helped them in supporting the FLOWS Forum (Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors), as well as doing some work for their Immigration team. One of the most exciting things about my role is the access it has given me to talk and hear from so many different people working in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector. Working on FLOWS has enabled me to attend events on legal aid and coercive control that have given me so much insight into the incredible work all the organisations, academics and lawyers in this field do.
It has been incredibly valuable for me to see that this work exists, and all that is being done to make it achievable for as many women as possible to seek justice. There is a recognition at RoW that every part of the process for women experiencing violence, from initially seeking help to eventually getting justice, is just as important. Through my volunteer work reaching out to VAWG organisations to encourage them to get involved with FLOWS, I have witnessed this first-hand. The opportunity to be exposed to this sort of work at the age of 21 has been incredibly rewarding, there is something so hopeful about being surrounded by women who are fighting to show that the law can and should protect women. The policy work that RoW does means they not only enable more women to access the law through their advice lines, but also ensures that the law that is being accessed has the necessary protections in place to be effective. I have been made to feel so welcome and truly included ever since I started volunteering for Rights of Women, and have been given the opportunity to learn invaluable lessons that I will carry beyond my role here into my everyday life, thanks to the access I have been given and the openness and authenticity of the women working at RoW.