Volunteering with GNWCAB - Lauren's Story
- Volunteering with GNWCAB - Lauren's Story
Lauren Bowie, a former Glasgow North West Citizens Advice Bureau (GNWCAB) volunteer, has launched Scotland’s first ever information directory site for aspiring lawyers from less advantaged backgrounds.
The 22-year-old, who volunteered with GNWCAB for a year, went on to study law at Glasgow University after being told her dream of being a lawyer was ‘unattainable’ because she grew up in a deprived area. She has now launched ‘Legable’ a site that combines information about scholarships, bursaries, work and volunteering opportunities. On the first day Legable was launched, it was visited by 600 budding lawyers. She said: “I grew up in a place where I was considered naïve because ‘people like me don’t become lawyers’, and where I struggled to find any information about life as a law student or even how to qualify as a solicitor. I wanted to remove the information barrier which prevents aspiring lawyers accessing resources to support them to study law and advance their careers. I want all young people to know that your background doesn’t determine your future.”
Lauren, who graduated from Glasgow University with a First Class law degree, faced a number of struggles on her path to success. When Lauren reached University she found the majority of students on her course were from affluent and well-connected backgrounds. They had easy access to finances and work experience. Determined to gain some practice resolving complex issues face-to-face, Lauren joined Glasgow North West CAB as a volunteer.
“GNWCAB helped me more than anything else. Volunteering built my confidence and helped me practise my skills with vulnerable people in real life. One client I remember so clearly – he came to the Bureau after losing his job and didn’t understand which benefits he could apply for. This led to him being in a lot of debt. After calming him down he told me the night before he had attempted suicide. I felt like I had someone’s life in my hands.”
“I applied for benefits on his behalf and referred him to mental health support organisations. We also worked through his debt and entered him into a payment plan. Not long after this he felt safe and supported again and managed to secure a job. The whole process took four months and it was amazing to see his life turned around.”
Next year Lauren will start a traineeship with Pinsent Masons, a renowned multinational law firm which she said her experience with GNWCAB helped her to achieve.
Robert Winning, Volunteer Supervisor at Glasgow North West Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “We are so pleased Lauren’s volunteering experience with us helped inspire her to launch a site to help disadvantaged young people. As a volunteer-led charity, GNWCAB is able to change the lives of thousands of people living in some of the most deprived areas of Scotland. Our volunteer programme helps people gain confidence, skills and work experience that opens up employment opportunities for them. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication our volunteers show in helping those who need it most in the community.”