One-year down and some more to go! My first year at JustRight Scotland

Nat

 

by Natalia Uribe 

When I first joined JustRight Scotland (JRS), I was the Operations and Finance assistant (the first of the organisation!) and member of the newly developed Operations team. Within a year, I had taken on more responsibilities and a new role of Senior Executive Assistant. But what does that really mean for this charity? Similar to how caseworkers are a pair of safe hands for their legal centre, I am that for the organisation and staff. I provide support from day-to-day operations that can include anything from printing failures (IT) to sourcing wellbeing resources for staff (HR) to dealing with expenditure and complicated excel spreadsheets (Finance). On the fun days, I get to dip into other projects across the team. Mostly with our Senior Communications Officer Annamaria on our podcast project called Our Rights Stories’. In any given day, I can wear all four hats or just one! 

  

What did I learn during my first year at JRS?

Power of those behind the scenes: Burnout, Capacity and Compassion Fatigue
Human Rights Defenders have the drive to give endlessly, even from close to empty cups. Throughout my first year at JRS, I’ve noticed that the work our organisation does to tackle systemic, racist and inaccessible systems has an unseen impact on our dedicated defenders. It is not uncommon to talk about burnout and compassion fatigue when it comes to those that work and volunteer in the Human Rights context. It is a serious and difficult reality to maneuver through as an individual but as well collectively as an organisation.  

Prior to working at JRS, I had seen this in young people through my personal activism which often leads to those stepping away from volunteering to recover and restore to give again. It is a very different context to see this in a workplace. Work that you are unable to step away from, influence that makes showing up to difficult spaces a requirement and not being able to always guard your peace from the environment around you. 
I note all this to point out that when you are in the trenches of this work, it is sometimes difficult to reflect on the positive impact that your own work has.  

 

Importance of Collective Care: where my place sits in the organisation
As mentioned, I wear many hats in the organisation and essentially boil it down to a ‘Support role’ to the fullest. What I have learned as the most rewarding part of this job is being there for those who are in trenches with their clients. I take pride in being able to be a ‘safe pair of hands’ for those that need the support to keep defending people’s rights and fighting to increase access to justice for all. During my experience here, I have realised the importance of prioritising and nurturing a culture of Collective Care. A workplace that supports and respects the idea of people showing up as their whole self is so important in this space where a lot of the other aspects of life are dictated by external factors including unforeseen events and calamities. In such a context, being part of a team who supports each other and respects each other’s values and visions becomes part of my role.  

At the same time, having a supportive role means constantly working in partnership and liaising with external partners as well in order to build a network of relationships for the organisation. From suppliers to consultants, from technical teams to booking systems, every activity becomes a way for me to interact with a wider range of people and institutions. An opportunity to further improve my skills and expertise. 

 

Empowerment through development: 
Working for JustRight Scotland implies working for an organisation that provides me with a space to explore my future career, drives and passions while finding new and interactive ways to be more creative.

An inspiring instance of this is Our Rights Stories, JustRight Scotland first ever podcast! I have harnessed my own expertise, and through the thoughtful curation of content, the selection of topics, and the artful orchestration of discussions, together with our team, I have created a platform where ideas flourish and diverse perspectives converge.

In taking the reins of our own narrative, I not only fostered my personal growth but also empowered others by showcasing the potential within each of us to effect change and drive meaningful dialogue. This act of self-initiated development not only amplified my voice but also served as a beacon of empowerment, inspiring others to recognise and harness their own capabilities within the team. 

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JustRight Scotland is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SC047818) which provides legal services through its limited liability partnership, JustRight Scotland LLP which trades as JustRight Scotland (SO305962). This firm has been authorised to act as solicitors by the Law Society of Scotland (Registered No 53703).

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