Building access to justice takes a whole village. And it starts with those right on the frontlines.
JWB’s first year-long mentorship programme aimed to support workers helping other workers. Stories from mentees like Trina highlight the personal impact of the programme. Now we take a step back and look at what the programme means for the larger work of access to justice for migrant workers.
Justice needs to be mobile for migrant workers who have faced exploitation or abuse. Most return home before they can pursue their cases. That means support services abroad in places like Hong Kong must be able to help clients regardless of whether they can stay for the long-term or must continue their case after returning home.
The programme complemented a sister project in Indonesia, which trained professional caseworkers who welcome workers returning from abroad. These caseworkers took similar trainings to help workers pick up where they left off overseas, while also looking pursuing potential claims back home as well.
Participants in the Hong Kong programme were all migrant worker union leaders keen on improving
their casework skills to help those in need. Their unions are the first point of contact for the city’s
370,000 migrant domestic workers. All were women domestic workers.
With domestic work being their day job, the mentorship programme needed to fit around some very
busy schedules. Mentees have a remarkably full workload six days of domestic work and other union
duties on their one day off each Sunday. The programme met their busy schedules with intensive
workshops spread out over a full year.
Regular small-group coaching sessions and mentor support enabled members to practice what they
learned and then get immediate feedback. Activities mirrored real work, including supervised client
interview sessions to mock trials held online and in person. Experts from partner organizations
guided mentees throughout 22 coaching sessions, including law firm DLAPiper and RainLily (a Hong
Kong-based sexual crisis centre) among other seasoned casework experts.
The mentees were in 100% agreement that the workshops gave them both the hard knowledge and
soft skills that they needed. They graduated with a better understanding of the legal protections
against sexual abuse and harassment, and the laws regulating employment agencies and
moneylenders in Hong Kong. Mentees also shared they grew in terms of legal knowledge,
interviewing skills and case handling. Each took home a case handling toolkit that collected the
resources they learned, allowing them to go back to their materials at any time they need.
Finally, for many, the increase in confidence to help others was the most valuable outcome from the
programme. One mentee shared, “I am now more confident to look out for a client, and I can now
confidently ask questions in a way I could not before.”
The mentorship programme became a two-way learning opportunity for participants and facilitators.
Lawyers who coached mentees had the chance to learn about how they experience migrant
domestic work as people. The programme also gave all facilitators a chance to learn more about
what future participants might need from the programme in the future. With participants having just
brief windows of time to grow their skills, participants’ feedback was invaluable in showing how
create even greater impact in the brief windows of time they have off from their day jobs.
The PowerUp Campaign features how JWB scales up its impact through building capacity with our allies. Our partners, including mentors, mentees, funders and frontline organization leaders, came together to share their experiences in our capacity building programs. We also look ahead to how we continue to scale up our impact to ensure that access to justice is as mobile as migrant workers.