As a progressive Barristers Chambers we recognise that our activities have an impact on the wider environment and as such seek to use this impact in a positive way.
We are also committed to behave ethically and to encourage engagement with our wider community by becoming active contributing members of society.
In respect of the environment we recognise that our activities have an impact on the environment. We are committed to ensuring that our business is environmentally responsible and believe it is essential for us to achieve continuous improvements and support external initiatives. To address key issues of concern and minimise our environmental impact we commit to reducing the production of waste and recycle where-ever possible. We also aim to conserve energy through efficient use of natural resources and manufactured products such as paper.
Spire Barristers is a people business so naturally it follows that is how our approach should be to our people. In supporting this ideal we support our individual members and employees with the community projects and activities that they undertake through sponsorship and paid time off.
Chambers in the Community
In 2020 Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals struck a chord with many of us but particularly with Connie Purdy and Ashley Lord. They set about galvanising Chambers into action, determined that we could contribute something towards this campaign of conscience. This project didn’t fall within the remit of the Spire Foundation, but Connie and Ashley were not deterred!
Altogether donations nearly totalling nearly £3,500 was raised and it was decided to distribute this amongst schools in the geographical areas Chambers practises in. There were some schools that members of Chambers had links with, (Mark Watterson and Dave Phillips) and other schools were vetted in respect of their eligibility and needs by Sue Philpott (the lovely wife of Colin Philpott, Chambers Finance Manager) who has over 35 years’ experience as a Headteacher. So, it was a real team effort!
We managed to help the children and their families of SEVEN different schools; FieldHead Carr Primary, Kirton–in-Lindsey Primary, Parklands Primary, Gledhow School, Bracken Edge School, St Helens School Wakefield and Oakfield School. Whilst the donation made was for the assistance of vulnerable or at risk children, we placed no other restrictions upon how the money was to be used as we realised the schools would know better than us how to best use it. This has resulted in a variety of uses including Christmas Hampers, a “ Raising Aspirations Programme” for disadvantaged KS2 children and school uniforms.
As is often the way one good deed inspires another. Once a local Co-operative knew that the funds used to purchase items from them for Hampers for one particular school were a donation, they heavily discounted their prices. The surplus money was then used to set up a fund to help parents with the purchase of school uniform for their growing children in the New Year, which the Head explained is also a source of stress to parents.
This thank-you message from one of the Head Teachers sums it all up best of all….
“The families selected come from a wide cross section of our school, those who have always struggled, but also those who have been hit incredibly hard (both parents out of work) by COVID and have found themselves for the first time without any money and limited as to what support they can access.
Your support has allowed us to reach 70 children and make a difference to families living in fear of how they will put regular food on the table from month to month.
Your joint efforts and small acts of kindness have made a difference to our families this year!”
In 2011 Chambers had set up the 3 Wishes Foundation which we administered through the Leeds Community Foundation. This inspired us to do more, be involved in our community, & give back to those who could do with help or support.
So, in 2019 we set up The Spire Foundation, which has a charitable status and will be registered as a charity. To paraphrase, the Spire Foundation is
“A charity aimed at supporting vulnerable adults and children, who have learning or physical disabilities, or have experienced the care system, in the North of England. The charity has the aims of supplying those individuals with funds and support to enable them to advance themselves, through education such as the funding of courses or work placements, or other means including funds for equipment or assistive technology. This is in order to help them to improve their life outcomes, and their interactions with the care system where appropriate.”
Our current trustees are Jacqui Thomas QC, Liz Shaw, Sarah Blackmore, Ashley Lord Sharon Tappin, Leigh Royall & Colin Philpott (Treasurer). Our income is from donations from our supporters and members of Chambers, in addition to fundraising events. Lockdown did not dampen our enthusiasm or commitment to raise funds. In May 2020 we held our first successful “cook – along” with our own local celebrity Chef Rahila Hussain, winner of Food Glorious Food. This was such a hit we held a second “cook – along “with Craig Rogan (Executive Head Chef at the Dakota restaurant in Leeds and son of Michelin Starred chef Simon Rogan) in March 2021. Both events were a culinary success!
February 2021 saw members of Chambers, their families, friends and also lots of their dogs undertake a sponsored virtual walk. We aimed to walk to Italy by the end of February but ended up in Cairo so enthusiastic and competitive was the team of 40.
The Foundation has already changed the life of one young care leaver. “H” is now undertaking a master’s degree in structural engineering part time over 2 years, whilst also working full time and caring for a parent and some younger siblings who are also looked after children. We recognise how unusual it is that a care leaver progresses to doing a degree, due to the constraints of the student bursary and lottery of support available. To proceed to a postgraduate master’s degree is certainly exceptional! We were told how this opportunity would enhance “H’s” career prospects and had he been advised better initially; he would have chosen structural engineering for his first degree. So, in conjunction with another local charity, the Spire Foundation committed to sharing the costs of this master’s degree. This amounts to £2,550 per annum being paid by the Foundation. “H” keeps us up to date with his progress and whilst he has had to adapt to studying remotely, despite such a busy life he is very positive. In “H” own words “Sometimes it can be hard to progress alone and help can mean so much so thank you very much.“ If this resonates with you please feel free to donate specifically for funds for “ H” via our Just Giving page https://gofund.me/124f0429
We want to help more people in our community and have identified two other local charities we hope to be able to make a financial commitment to. However, if a project does not fall within the scope of the Foundation, this doesn’t deter us! In 2020, Marcus Rashford’s campaign for free school meals struck a chord with many of us but in particular with Connie Purdy and Ashley Lord who galvanised Chambers into action. We collected very nearly £3,500, which was then distributed to schools in the geographical areas Chambers practises in, for more details check out our Corporate Responsibility “Chambers in the Community“ page.
Our everyday professional lives revolve around families who are suffering and are going through their worst times. We are privileged to be able to help but are constantly reminded that there is always more that could, and should, be done. The Spire Foundation gives us a focus to give assistance in areas where modest amounts of money will create a longer-term benefit for those we help. The ethos of the Spire Foundation of concern for others and wanting to make a difference embodies the very spirit of chambers. We have just started, and have much to achieve, but hope that you will agree that we don’t just ‘talk the talk,’ but Spire Barristers ‘walk the walk,’ (even as far as Cairo)!