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Student volunteering case study

Jack Millen is a student who volunteers with us in Worcester Crown Court. Here he talks about what why he volunteers with us, what volunteering with the Witness Service is like, and what he gets from the experience.

I have been a Witness Service volunteer for just over a year now, based at Worcester Crown Court. This role requires me to support witnesses and their family or friends throughout their day at court, and through the process of giving evidence. This support can be as simple as providing practical information about the court system and the proceedings, but we also offer emotional support to reluctant or anxious witnesses, so they feel valued and confident to present their best evidence.

While studying, I was searching for volunteering jobs related to the Criminal Justice System and stumbled upon the Citizens Advice website. After reading the description and responsibilities of the Court Volunteer position, I found it was something I’d be interested in and wanted to explore.

As I am studying a degree in criminology, working within a role related to the Criminal Justice System was essential. I wanted to find a position that allowed me to expand my knowledge in relation to my degree and required me to come out of my comfort zone and provide a challenge.

Each day is a new experience. Working within the Witness Service team has provided an environment which has dramatically improved my confidence and communication skills through teamwork and supporting a range of individuals with diverse characteristics and backgrounds.

The best positive experiences would be seeing the results of your work. I’ve come across many individuals who were so anxious and fearful about the process of giving evidence that I thought they wouldn’t be able to do it. However, once they had finished presenting their evidence, many individuals comment on how easy it was, and that they shouldn't have worried because of the support they had received on the day, and thank you for your hard work.

The most rewarding thing about volunteering in the Witness Service would be the sense of accomplishment and positive feeling you leave with at the end of each day, after helping someone through an emotional day and seeing that sense of relief they have with it being over.

The most challenging times would be days when you have multiple trials, with a large number of witnesses in each case, which can be high pressured. It is during these times you have to use your initiative and problem-solving skills to manage witnesses professionally to ensure the day goes as smoothly as possible.

The whole team is supportive and always there to help when you have any issues or concerns. My team leader has been particularly helpful and flexible when it comes to the schedule, and happily gives me time off around university exams and essay deadlines which is a relief and takes much pressure off my shoulders.

The training I have received has been essential and provides important information which enables me to conduct the role professionally. There are always opportunities for optional courses in specific areas which are interesting and have been beneficial to both my voluntary role and my degree.

I would recommend volunteering within the Witness Service for anyone interested in the Criminal Justice System and looking to familiarise themselves with the court proceedings. This role provides a new challenge each day which can be very rewarding and allow you to expand on and learn new skills in a professional environment.