'I have been a magistrate for over 15 years and people should get involved if they want to make a difference'

Sean Harvey, 44, from North Shields, who has been a magistrate for over 15 years.
Sean Harvey, 44, from North Shields, who has been a magistrate for over 15 years. -Credit:Sean Harvey

Most people have never considered the possibility of being a magistrate, but one volunteer wants more people to give it a try.

Sean Harvey from North Shields has been able to balance his magistrate role with his job as a primary school teacher.

Sean, 44, has spoken about his experiences as the Judiciary of England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice are issuing a call to people in the North East to be part of a new wave of magistrates. The appeal is part of a nationwide drive to increase the number of volunteers, including people from underrepresented groups.

Sean started as a magistrate over 15 years ago, after deciding that he wanted to take on a volunteering position of some sort. He said: "I always knew I wanted to volunteer but I wasn't sure what to do, which is when a friend of mine, who was a magistrate herself, told me about the opportunity.

"I had a lot of questions about what the role entailed so I headed to the local courts in North Shields and watched everything to see what it was like, and I immediately felt like, with my strong sense of social justice, that I would be a good fit. I liked the idea of being part of the system on the judicial side of things.

"Logistically, magistrates need to work at least 13 full days a year and I have found that employers are very flexible when it comes to this. The thing that I have loved the most about the role is making a difference to people and having a positive impact on them, putting them on the path to rehabilitation and turning their lives around.

"The most satisfying thing is when parole officers come back to us and tell us how well people are doing, knowing I helped to create positive change is hugely rewarding. Being a cog in this machine is a great feeling and it really feels like you are part of something important.

"I have worked alongside people of all backgrounds and from all kinds of jobs, and it is great to see the representation of people from every section of society who are responsible for judging others. As a role it is fantastic and very rewarding so I would massively encourage people to get involved if they want to make a difference."

Anyone looking to volunteer or register their interest ahead of the next application window closing should visit the Government website here for more information.