In the intricate web of the criminal justice system, Jennifer Smith found her calling – a beacon of compassion and advocacy for those navigating its daunting terrain. For the past three years, Jennifer has dedicated herself to volunteering with PACT and Sleepbus, driven by a profound understanding of the challenges survivors face and a fervent belief in the transformative power of kindness.

Jennifer’s journey into volunteering was deeply rooted in her personal and academic experiences within the criminal justice field. Having traversed the complexities of the legal system as a survivor of horrendous crimes, Jennifer and her family intimately understand the importance of support and guidance during times of adversity. Moreover, her realisation that anyone could find themselves on the brink of homelessness underscored the urgency of extending a helping hand to those in need.

Reflecting on her motivations, Jennifer shares, “Each of us is only a breath away from being a homeless person. It costs nothing to be kind to others.” This ethos of empathy and solidarity forms the cornerstone of her volunteer work, guiding her interactions with every individual she encounters.

Throughout her volunteer journey, Jennifer has borne witness to countless moments of resilience and courage. One such memorable experience was observing vulnerable individuals, including children, facing the daunting prospect of court proceedings. By standing alongside them, offering belief and encouragement, Jennifer witnessed fear dissipate, replaced by a newfound sense of empowerment and resilience. As she eloquently puts it, “I have seen those individuals leaving court feeling 10 feet tall because someone stood with them, believed them, encouraged them. The survivors felt in that moment like an overcomer.”

One encounter that left a mark on Jennifer was witnessing the unwavering resolve of a seven-year-old girl facing the daunting legal process. Despite her tender age, the girl remained steadfast in her truth, a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Jennifer emphasises the importance of amplifying such voices and ensuring that every individual’s story is heard and valued.

In her own words, Jennifer encapsulates her volunteer journey as “Kindness matters.” Through her tireless advocacy and unwavering compassion, Jennifer exemplifies the transformative impact of extending kindness to others. For those considering volunteering, Jennifer offers sage advice, urging them to embrace empathy and compassion as guiding principles.