Volunteering at PCaW

7th September 2017

"What does whistleblowing mean to you?" was one of the first questions I was asked when starting to volunteer at Public Concern at Work (PCaW) back in March 2016. My answer revolved around Edward Snowden and his revelations about the National Security Agency, a bias that is likely to have resulted from my time studying International Relations at university.

After 17 insightful months at PCaW, my answer would be quite different...

On the one hand, I gained a better understanding of whistleblowing, knowing that it doesn't always have to be those high profile cases that you hear about on the news, but that people blow the whistle on a daily basis in hospitals, schools, and many other offices all around the UK.

On the other hand, volunteering at PCaW has provided me with valuable experience in the legal industry and charity sector, whilst at the same time allowing me to work with inspiring colleagues in a fun and caring office.

My main task was to read, summarise and categorise the case law evolving around the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA), developing PCaW's database. PIDA is a relatively young piece of legislation, whose interpretation and case law is constantly evolving. Reading about the legal discussions within the cases and thereby learning about a field of law that was virtually unknown to me, became incredibly rewarding. Listening to discussions about PCaW’s interventions in the Court of Appeal cases of Day vs Health Education England, and respectively Chesterton Global vs Nurmohamed, provided me with a front row perspective on how legislation is actively challenged and developed.

Volunteering at PCaW was rich in variety as I was given the opportunity to visit the Employment Tribunal archives in Bury several times in order to research cases, conduct last minute legal research into issues such as settlement agreements, and help PCaW’s policy team in its research by analysing the PIDA database considering a specific research topic.

Volunteering and working on a big project like the PIDA database always gave me the feeling that my work was being appreciated and worthwhile, whilst allowing me to independently manage my workload. PCaW was also very supportive in allowing me to coordinate my time volunteering around my law studies.

As I now leave to start solicitor training contract with Faegre Baker Daniels, I am glad to have been part of PCaW and the team's passion for whistleblowing became evident every time I was in the office. Supplementing my studies with volunteering was an ideal practical insight into Employment Law and whistleblowing and I am certain will be invaluable for my future career in law. For the great experience, I want to thank everyone at PCaW!

by Hans Christian Mehrens