‘My name’s Nakita Hedges, I am a second year Law student, I worked for African Prison’s Project and I was a legal skills tutor. I taught a legal skills programme, so how to read cases, statutes etc. to prisoners in maximum security prisons in Kenya.’
What inspired you to volunteer?
‘I came to university because I was really interested in human rights, so I took the opportunity to get involved in the Pro Bono group. It was all about supplying resources and materials to prisoners who hadn’t had legal aid and were trying to educate themselves. From there, the opportunity arose and I was like, this will be able to determine if I want to do this in my career, like providing justice for people – and it did.’
What was the most surprising thing you learned whilst volunteering?
‘I learnt that no matter how somebody is titled or how someone is stigmatised by society that they are still a human being and they’re still decent people. I met murderers and sex offenders but I got on with them and that was surprising.’
Describe a time you feel you made a difference?
‘We worked in three prisons and one of them was female, and there was a lady who was about sixty or seventy years old, and the thing that really touched me and that I walked away with is on the last day we had a bit of a cry and a goodbye, and she said “You don’t understand what it’s like being treated like a human being again. You giving us that support and being here and being nice to us and not looking at us like we’re evil horrible people” is the best thing that could have happened to them because nobody does that anymore.’
What is the impact of volunteering and why should other students get involved?
‘Well, I think every single person needs to do things more than just watch it on a TV screen or on their phones and go out and experience life and see a different side to how you live and help people when you can because it’s the most rewarding thing, no pay cheque is more rewarding. If you can find that within yourself, or support other people in that decision then the world will change, it will.’