A Day in the Life of a Summer Student: Kirstie Smith

IMG_0325In order to ensure that the Clinic can run at full capacity during the university holiday period, we hire a number of part time ‘Summer Students’ to staff the Clinic. These students are typically funded through one of our partnerships or by one of the law firms that support the Clinic. This year we have been able to hire ten summer students, thanks in part to the support of the Refugee Survival Trust, David Stirling and the Scottish Women’s Right Centre.

In the second of a series of articles written by our Summer Students, Kirstie Smith describes a typical day.

I have been lucky enough this summer to be involved in the brilliant work carried out by the Immigration Unit. The Unit is tasked with the important and, at times, tough job of helping destitute asylum seekers who have exhausted almost every avenue in attempting to obtain refugee status. As a result, the majority of individuals the Immigration Unit helps are unfortunately in a ‘last resort’ situation. Ultimately, we help destitute asylum seekers prepare a fresh, and often final, claim for asylum.

The summer months are always the time to catch up on tasks which cannot be completed thanks to a hectic term time. This summer these tasks have included carrying out case reviews of all the assessments carried out over the past two years as well as editing the Asylum Process Summary Handbook. It is vital that there are students working on these tasks throughout the summer months to ensure that the Unit can operate effectively during term time.

I feel I have learnt a lot during the initial assessments with asylum seekers who have been referred to the Unit by the Scottish Refugee Council. The assessments provide a real insight into the struggles of an asylum seeker in the UK. Working with Barbara Coll, who has vast experience in immigration law and humanitarian work, has been invaluable and the way she helps clients is truly admirable.

Working as a summer student has allowed me to pick up practical experience in a unique area of law, hopefully make a difference to individuals’ asylum claims and allowed me to help to progress the vital work of the Immigration Unit.

Kirstie Smith