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  • “The SBA confirms my professional standing as a lawyer

  • “No one should feel their life is in such a state that they can’t ask for help”

  • “You know that there are people there to support you and that you are not alone”

  • “I was not yet suicidal but I was close to breaking point

Volunteer Q&A – Rhona Rowland

How did you hear of SBA The Solicitors’ Charity?

I heard of the charity through my membership of Northamptonshire Law Society. I responded to an email asking if anyone was interested in volunteering. I later met with staff and talked about whether I’d be happy to give my time and skills.

 

Why do you think it’s important to be there for fellow solicitors who have fallen on hard times?

It’s always been part of my professional life to give back. And I find volunteering to be an excellent way to do this. People need assistance from those who can empathise and understand what it would be like in their situation.

 

When you began volunteering, were you surprised to learn of the financial difficulties SBA beneficiaries may find themselves in?

No I wasn’t. While being a member of Northamptonshire Law Society’s Council, we were occasionally approached by solicitors who were facing adversity. Since then, I’ve been aware of the difficulties faced by solicitors both in the profession and beyond.

Could you give examples of why beneficiaries are in need of support?

Applicants are generally looking for assistance to alleviate a particular issue that can become a huge problem for them. For instance, a widow of a solicitor could be in a nursing home with no means of increasing their income. She may not be able to pay for nursing home fees.

Some unemployed solicitors might also need support in getting a job and increase their income. This is where the charity’s career transition service is very useful.

 

As an Area Representative you assist individuals in finding solutions, which is exactly the role a mediator plays

 

How has your experience as a mediator helped with your role as an Area Representative?

It has helped hugely. As an Area Representative you assist individuals in finding solutions, which is exactly the role a mediator plays. A mediator is not there to provide solutions or suggest possible routes. We’re there to investigate and help them explore options and for them to make their own decisions.

 

So with this in mind do you feel solicitors/mediators are tailor-made for this position?

Absolutely. We already have the necessary skills, especially how to communicate and put people at ease. It helps in circumstances where individuals are uncomfortable with talking about things, including finances. Also because of your professional position, applicants know that you’re able to understand their situation.

 

As professionals we like to think that we can solve problems for others. But often we’re no good at solving our own

Do you feel there are barriers in the way for solicitors in asking for help?

There are barriers and the main one is a sense of pride. As professionals we like to think that we can solve problems for others. But often we’re no good at solving our own. Reaching for support can be nearly impossible, if not a very painful process. Some lawyers may have a fear of criticism for not being able to sort out their personal problems.

 

Apply to be a volunteer

 

SBA The Solicitors’ Charity is recruiting Area Representative volunteers across England and Wales. We need your help in assisting potential beneficiaries in the application process. This involves meeting them on a one-to-one basis and providing feedback to head office.

This is an excellent opportunity for you to be there for fellow colleagues. By lending a hand, you can make a huge impact on those experiencing personal financial hardship.
Visit the link below to view full details.

To discuss opportunities, please contact Sue Ellis on 0208 675 6440 or email sue@sba.org.uk. We’d be delighted to hear from you.

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