1. Chambers seeks to encourage and promote initiatives and practices, which will aim to maintain and improve the health and wellbeing of all staff, pupils and barristers.
2. Our core wellbeing values are set out below:
a. We want Chambers as a whole to function efficiently and happily;
b. Chambers includes staff, pupils and tenants and we value the contributions we all make equally;
c. The workload of barristers and clerks is changing and this policy forms part of a plan to provide support mechanisms to protect ourselves from the effects of burn out and also to try to reduce any risk of these problems arising in the first place;
d. Quite apart from the material in this policy, part of the plan is that our Chambers building will provide a pleasant environment aimed not only at meeting our working needs, but also to provide a comfortable working base in which we can feel relaxed and supported ;
e. We have always been a happy Chambers with socialising outside work – we would like to encourage this.
Wellbeing is defined as
‘being as physically fit as you can be, enjoying life and work, being connected to others and retaining an ability both to keep perspective about, and ability to recover from, difficult times.’
3. Chambers recognises that the wellbeing of members of Chambers, pupils and staff is paramount and that this impacts on their mental, as well as their physical, health. Chambers also appreciates that healthy and well-motivated members of Chambers, pupils and staff can have a positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of Chambers.
4. The health and wellbeing of Chambers is the responsibility of everyone working in Chambers. Factors that can determine whether members, pupils and staff will have a positive or negative relationship with work, include:
a. relationships between all those working in Chambers;
b. whether all working in Chambers feel involved in organisational issues and decisions;
c. job / practice design;
d. availability and acceptability of flexible working arrangements;
e. awareness of occupational health issues.
5. As part of this commitment, Chambers operates a support and mentoring scheme, and provides training to support members, pupils and staff.
6. It is also recognised that Trinity Chambers has always had an ethos of providing considerable informal support between members. This policy is not intended to replace this informal support which should continue. This policy provides an additional mechanism for support through the use of mentors and buddies, with training for such persons.
Appointment of Mentors and a Wellbeing Representative (See Annex for current appointees)
7. Chambers will appoint a member of Chambers responsible for wellbeing issues (‘Wellbeing Representative’). It will appoint one member who will act as Buddy support to pupils as well as two members who will act as Mentors to all persons in Chambers, be they pupils, tenants or staff. Selection of mentors will be on a rotating basis and will be carried out by the wellbeing representative. Members of chambers may opt out of being mentors if they feel that (either temporarily or permanently) they are not in a position to assist but the expectation is that normally all members of chambers will be mentors as part of the philosophy of mutual support within chambers. Buddy supporters will perform their role to all pupils for a period of two years; mentors will also perform their roles for a period of two years.
8. Any member requiring support should, in the first instance, be encouraged to meet with:
a. Pupils : buddy or mentor at their preference ;
b. Tenants and clerks/staff : either mentor at their preference.
9. As an alternative, any member, pupil or employee may access advice from any other member of chambers.
10. Any buddy, mentor or person so approached shall, with the consent of the person seeking support, liaise with the wellbeing representative so that support can be co-ordinated and any ongoing themes of concern identified.
11. Chambers will ensure all Mentors and Buddies attend relevant courses to assist them in performing their role , together with refresher courses as appropriate , to provide them with a deeper understanding of the issues that impact on people’s mental health and with practical skills to manage their role, whilst also ensuring their mental health is not jeopardised.
12. At any time, pupils and barristers can arrange to see one of the designated Mentors or Buddies, the Wellbeing Representative or Senior Clerk if they feel a need to rebalance their practice for whatever reason.
13. Should the Mentor or Buddy be unable to continue with their role for whatever reason, they are able to opt-out at any time by notifying the Wellbeing Representative.
14. The Senior Clerk shall be the first point of contact for Chambers’ clerks and administration staff with consultation with the Wellbeing Representative if necessary.
15. Chambers recognises that confidentiality is key to a trusting relationship, and to that end, Mentors will protect members’ identity and ensure any matters discussed remain confidential.
Emotional and Physical Health and General Wellbeing
16. Chambers recognises the need for work/life balance and promoting the emotional and physical health and general wellbeing of all working there so that Chambers remains effective as a workplace for all.
17. Chambers recognises that a combination of healthy eating and exercise aids and promotes mental health and physical health, which in turn impacts positively on productivity.
18. Chambers will raise awareness with all members, pupils and staff of wellbeing issues and will provide a supportive work environment for all.
19. If there is interest from members of chambers and staff, wellbeing events shall be investigated and, if appropriate, provided – this may include (but not be limited to) social events, team building events, mindfulness and yoga events.
20. This Wellbeing Policy is in addition to any other relevant current policies adopted by Chambers. Insofar as the wellbeing of staff is concerned, this policy is subject to all policies of Chambers in relation to employment issues and all relevant employment law.
21. To address wellbeing factors including:
a. managing stress in ourselves and others;
b. absence management;
c. dealing with working under pressure;
d. time management;
e. understanding and preventing harassment and bullying;
f. helping those needing to cope with loss;
g. drugs and alcohol awareness;
h. working effectively with each other as members and with pupils and staff.
22. The Management Committee of Chambers will appoint a Wellbeing Representative who will review wellbeing issues from time to time and make further recommendations if necessary, to the management committee as well as selecting mentors and buddies. Each wellbeing representative will serve for a period of 3 years.
23. In addition to the self-referral mechanism to a mentor set out at paragraph 7 above, referrals may be made to the wellbeing representative by the senior clerk in the event that any member or employee of chambers is considered by the clerk to be possibly in need of support : in this instance, the wellbeing representative will informally approach the member of chambers concerned to discuss whether assistance is required and will signpost them if appropriate to mentor or other support.
24. Judicial bullying is unacceptable. In the event that any person in Chambers feels that they have been the victim of this, they are encouraged to raise it with the wellbeing representative. The wellbeing representative shall, with the consent of those concerned, be empowered by Chambers to seek a meeting with local senior judiciary to discuss such concerns.
Free confidential advice and support is also available at Law Care 0800 279 6888 http://www.lawcare.org.uk/
Further details on Wellbeing from the Bar Council can be found here:
Wellness for Law: http://www.wellnessforlawuk.org
Helpline: 116 123
Alcohol Concern: https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk
Helpline: 0300 123 1110
Alcohol & drugs- Addaction: https://www.addaction.org.uk
Drugs – FRANK 24-hour free helpline: 0300 123 6600
Bereavement Services- Cruse: https://www.cruse.org.uk
National helpline: 0808 808 1677
Directory of Chartered Psychologists: http://www.bps.org.uk/bpslegacy/dcp
British Acupuncture Council: https://www.acupuncture.org.uk
Annex to Wellbeing Policy
Current Appointees (at June 2020)
1. Wellbeing Representative – Janet Bettle
2. Wellbeing Mentors – David O’Brien and Anne-Marie Lucey
3. Wellbeing Buddy – Jessica Hunter