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St Ives Chambers

This case study may be useful if you are looking for examples of developing a wellbeing policy, increasing awareness of wellbeing, developing resilience training schemes and/or promoting wellbeing initiatives.

To kick-start work on wellbeing St Ives introduced a wellbeing week to provide members of chambers with a taster on its wellbeing offer and to seek views from members and staff on its wellbeing strategy. The success of this approach means chambers will now make Wellbeing Week an annual feature.

Recent public discussions about wellbeing has encouraged members at St Ives Chambers to form a committee to be in the vanguard of chambers that are developing wellbeing policies

What was the business (other case) for action?

St Ives recognised that having a reputation as a place of work that values staff and members’ wellbeing helps to attract and retain barristers, staff and pupils.

They felt that opening a dialogue between members, staff and pupils on this subject would help reduce stigma, encourage those who need it to seek help and thereby reduce absence through e.g. stress.

What did the Chambers do?

A Health and Wellbeing Committee was formed at the beginning of 2018 and members and staff were invited to join.

A Health and Wellbeing Policy for Chambers was developed.

Chambers’ approach to wellbeing was then then promoted via a week of events designed to coincide with the Birmingham Legal Walk and to follow National Mental Health Awareness Week. Events were designed to launch chambers’ Health and Well-being Committee, demonstrate chambers’ commitment to well-being and generate discussion around further initiatives to support wellbeing of members, staff and pupils.

During St Ives’ wellbeing week, the committee arranged for the following events:

  • Two sessions of chair yoga, which were available free to all of chambers and focussed on simple exercises that could be done in office wear, and a guided meditation to ease stress and tension;
  • One session of art therapy, which was free to all of chambers. The therapist guided participants through using different mediums to express themselves and also to de-stress;
  • Creation of a Chambers ‘team’ for the Birmingham Legal Walk;
  • A talk by a professional life coach on stress management and resilience, open to all;
  • A “Wellbeing Wine Friday”, a social event, in which all of chambers were invited to hear about the Committee’s plans for the upcoming year and provide feedback on the events of the week, to discuss wellbeing in general and to be informed about support available (through our Health Assured insurance scheme);
  • Free fruit was provided in strategic locations around chambers to enable members, staff, and pupils to choose a healthy alternative to biscuits.

What were the results?

The committee sought feedback from chambers on the impact of the week. It was considered a universal success, even if some members had been a bit sceptical about the benefits of art therapy!

At its most basic, the week provided a great opportunity for members, staff and pupils to socialise together through novel activities; at its best it highlighted the commitment of chambers to the wellbeing of all and opened an honest dialogue between members of chambers and staff about the complex issues that affect wellbeing.

A number of events/activities have continued including:

  • Chair yoga continues with free sessions once a week
  • Art therapy; additional sessions were organised for those who had been unable to attend during Wellbeing Week
  • Wine Fridays continue on a monthly basis
  • Chambers is now committed to making Wellbeing Week an annual event and to ensuring that both members of chambers and staff are welcome and able to attend.

In addition to the above, chambers has:

  • Invested in mental health first aid training for 12 members of Chambers and staff introduced a wellbeing mentoring scheme

“It is great to see St Ives’ showcasing their wellbeing work through a ‘Wellbeing Week’ but we are really delighted to see this is backed up by investment in mental health training for members and staff and the introduction of a mentoring programme. It is important any chambers establishes a wellbeing programme having focussed first on the basics.”

Wellbeing at the Bar Working Group

Tips

  • Think about having a health and wellbeing week to demonstrate your chambers’ focus on this area.
  • Make sure that staff and barristers from all areas of practice and levels of seniority are encouraged to attend – we have found that bringing down barriers to communication is key to success.
  • Don’t be afraid to try things from “left field”.

The information and resource packs on this website are designed to help you and your colleagues to work as a community for better wellbeing and professional resilience. If you want to provide feedback on these resources, or to get involved in promoting wellbeing please get in touch.


Get in touch Policy & practice

It can be difficult to make a living from law and it can be pressurised and demanding. Competition and an adversarial approach to everything can make collegiate relationships difficult. This website aims to provide you with the knowledge to manage these stressors, make emotionally informed, wise professional decisions and thrive in your chosen profession.

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