Reham, JRS Digital Communications Officer, shares her first experience of the London Legal Walk and what inspired her the most.
The London legal walk brings together legal firms, Barristers Chambers and organisations, like JRS, to walk 10KM across London to raise much needed funds for not-for-profit and legal aid providers. It was my first time undertaking the walk – 10KM didn’t sound too much at first, but by about 1/3 of the way through, I was feeling the aches in my legs begin…!
Why We Walk
The legal team at JRS provides essential legal advice and representation for refugee friends who are trapped in legal limbo and forever waiting to be recognised as refugees in need of international protection. The demands on their services are ever greater, so this fund-raising walk is crucial in supporting our legal team.
Before setting off, Aidan Cantwell, JRS Operations Manager said:
“I’m looking forward to walking around London’s parks in the summer sunshine as today is the third time myself and a group from JRS UK are taking in part in the London Legal Walk. Our very own legal project is now in its fourth year providing much needed access to specialist legal advice and representation for our refugee friends about asylum and immigration. This sponsored walk aims to raise money to provide legal help which includes fresh asylum claims.”
The route through London’s beautiful royal parks is very appealing and fortunately the weather was warm and sunny on the day, allowing the volunteers to walk enthusiastically and have some valuable talking time along the way. We saw several fellow organisations joining the walk, happy to see people of the same cause walking together for justice. It was delightful to hear from JRS colleagues why they were doing the walk and what it meant for them:
“I am walking to raise awareness about the importance and need for Legal work and to come together with other people in the sector.”
-William Neal, JRS Detention Caseworker
The event was beautifully organised by the London Legal Support Trust, providing assistance on every corner – with stewards wearing brightly coloured hats and foam fingers ensuring we didn’t get lost; and offering water juice for walkers at the starting point so we didn’t get dehydrated!
A unique view of London Landmarks
The walk passes by London landmarks and through the Royal parks: Green Park, St James’s Park and Hyde Park. We were fortunate that the Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards Parade was happening as we approached – and whilst it delayed our walk by around 15 minutes, it is always a special sight to see!
As we passed each marker-point, 4K, 7K, and 9K.. our energy started to wane, and my calves certainly started to get tired and tight…but we kept reminding each other why we were walking. I’ve seen the difference good, timely, expert legal advice and representation can make to refugee friends’ lives. From racing a deadline to make expert representations to stop someone being wrongfully deported, to working steadily one-to-one over months building a strong fresh asylum claim, and visibly see the weight lift off a refugee friend’s shoulders as they (finally) receive their papers.
It was fantastic to see so many people out walking – standing together in solidarity and walking for justice. Amidst so much hostility, I was left with a real sense of hope and a renewed fight for justice. And the feeling of achievement when we crossed that 10KM marker after almost 4 hours was amazing!!
Will I do it again next year? For sure! It was a fantastic experience for an essential cause, and I had the opportunity to walk with my colleagues, and supporters, and meeting lots of new people was a real bonus for me.
part of this community.
You can support the essential work of JRS’ Legal Project by sponsoring the JRS London Legal walk Team here