Meet Tristan, aspiring lawyer and Access Team volunteer
‘We can live in our own bubble and ignore parts of the world that don’t get a lot of media coverage. But it’s totally different when you’re talking to people who have experienced persecution from the Janjaweed in Sudan, forced military service in Eritrea or gang violence in El Salvador.
I started volunteering in January and currently have almost 60 clients. After the UK left the EU on 31 Dec, some received a letter confirming their case will be considered here. People often live under that threat of deportation for months, so their relief was amazing to see.
The feedback from clients is what keeps me going. It’s lovely to hear someone thanking you for the work that you’ve done. One client messaged me after an appointment to say, ‘The words you tell me are always the same as what the lawyer says. You should really become a lawyer one day.’ He was very happy when I told him I will be doing a law conversion course.
I had one client, E, who was taken to dispersal accommodation with no electricity. After not hearing back from the landlord, he phoned me to tell me he’d fixed it all himself. I couldn’t have done that. E is from Eritrea and has had a hard journey to get to the UK. I have been able to see his English progress and his confidence increase as his case has gone forward.
Sadly, he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to see his family again. They are in Uganda, the country he entered after fleeing Eritrea. Getting them to the UK is going to be very difficult because of the difficult laws on family reunions.
Our translators are fantastic. They have incredible abilities and can relate so well to our clients. It’s important to be able to reassure people in a language they understand. Some, like Dana, my go-to translator for Farsi and Kurdish Sorani, were professional interpreters in their country of origin. It makes me so angry to know the value that they could give to society if they were just allowed to work. We have a shortage of translators in so many occupations across this country. There are all these brilliant people willing to work for us for free just to help.
We’re making sure that everyone has the chance to have their case heard fairly, and to access legal representation and advice. All asylum seekers are entitled to this. It is so rewarding, and anyone who believes in equality under the law should join our team. You’ll learn a huge amount and meet some incredible people – the clients and the translators, other volunteers, and the lawyers too. It’s been an absolute privilege. I’m very grateful to everyone at Care4Calais for all the help and guidance, particularly in those first weeks and months.’ – Tristan, Access Team volunteer
We always need volunteers to join our Legal Access team. There are ever increasing numbers of referrals and asylum seekers who need help. We provide full training and support to our volunteers. If you can give 20 hours per week, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.