by Constance Trepanier
After I moved back to Scotland in January last year (2022), and in the midst of finding flats and settling in, I embarked on a new and quite exciting adventure as a new member of the JustRight Scotland team.
It’s now the time for me to reflect on what this adventure has looked like and what this has meant for me.
I started at JRS as a part-time Caseworker on the ROSA project, and part-time Operations Assistant. I was lucky enough to work on both frontline projects and background operational work. On one hand, I was supporting the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) in creating and developing educational tools, resources and delivering training on sexual harassment, learning from our outreach services and client representation on this matter. For instance, we produced multiple blogs and guides on sexual harassment at work, in further and higher education, on spiking by injection and doxing, to name a few.
On the other, I was helping with the day-to-day management of a growing and fascinating organisation. Through both roles, I quickly got to know everyone in the team, despite the first few months being remote work. I was immediately surprised by how friendly and knowledgeable everyone was, always ready to help and share tips and useful resources.
After a couple of months only, new adventures presented themselves. First, I became a Legal Caseworker at the SWRC, meaning I would now support the team on outreach services and legal representation for service users and clients who experienced gender-based violence. Second, I had the privilege to support JustRight Scotland (JRS) with the creation and implementation of the Ukraine Advice Scotland project in March 2022. The project was set up as an emergency response to the war in Ukraine to support Ukrainians and their families by providing free, confidential legal advice and information on legal routes for seeking safety in Scotland.
I witnessed very early on the incredible dedication of my colleagues and their ability to start a project from scratch just in a few days. With a flexible and responsive approach, my colleague and I were staffing the legal helpline and replying to online enquiries, providing legal advice and information to hundreds of Ukrainians.
By the end of the summer, I left the operational side of the organisation and became a full-time Legal Caseworker at the SWRC to focus on working with women who have been affected by abuse and violence in Scotland with the aim of improving their access to justice and experience of the justice system.
What I learned
The learning curve is incredibly steep at JRS, and I am immensely grateful for this. Work within one centre is never done in isolation with another, and this benefits both clients, service users and staff who learn a lot from this collaborative approach. The SWRC Immigration surgeries are a testimony to the inter-sectional work we do between centres, and how this creates more far-reaching services for instance for women who experience gender based violence and have immigration issues.
Since starting full-time at the SWRC, I have had the opportunity to learn about so many aspects of gender based violence, work in depth on many cases, and learn from so many incredible women from our collaboration with Rape Crisis Scotland and the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic.
In all the different roles I have had, I have always felt supported and empowered. I have particularly appreciated the encouragement to attend trainings and workshops, for instance on trauma-informed practice and on building support skills.
These opportunities, the team and the diversity of roles I have taken up (so far!) have made me a more confident and better equipped social justice activist, and woman.
I definitely look forward to more adventures in the future…