Help is always appreciated. Hear from
some of our previous beneficiaries
Help is always appreciated
The BBA gives assistance to past and present practising members of the Bar (including Judiciary) and their dependants.
The staff cannot offer specific advice but can point people towards those who can. Many beneficiaries see them as a life-line and are regularly in touch on the phone, or calling in for a chat. No matter who they are and whatever their circumstances there is always a welcome for them.
“I cannot thank those enough who have contributed to the BBA over the years and the helpful staff who dealt with my application”
In June 2012 I was carrying out my usual Sunday morning duties of ferrying various children to their various activities when I began to feel unwell. Knowing that I was due to be in court for most of the next week, and unlikely to be able to get to the doctors, I decided to call in at the local out-of-hours doctors, conveniently located in our local hospital’s A&E department. It was a lucky call on my part. Within a couple of hours I was in the back of an ambulance on my way to the regional heart centre for an angiogram and the fitting of a stent – I had had a major heart attack. And then came more bad news – I was not supposed to work for at least four weeks. In a profession where we often live from hand to mouth – particularly in the first ten years of call – this was a big blow. I knew that it would cause difficulties for me later in the year with a big tax bill due, and insufficient income to meet it. I decided to ask the BBA for help – and from the moment I got in touch the process was (relatively) painless. An unsecured loan helped me fend off HMRC and meant that the process of recovery was not impeded by worries about finances. I cannot thank enough those who have contributed to the BBA over the years or the discreet, helpful staff who dealt with my application.
“I owe a deep gratitude to all who support the fund; it was an absolute lifeline for us”
About 7 years ago my life came to a drastic halt when my daughter was born prematurely and had complex medical health needs.
As a result I stopped working to care full time for her. We had not planned for this financially and had to manage our income. We went on to have two further children. As a result of not working we acquired large debts and struggled financially. We were under pressure and suffered stress.
I then decided that I needed to return to work but did not have the financial support to assist with the costs involved. Our home was falling apart around us and the children were in need of new beds. I was extremely reluctant to contact the BBA as I was embarrassed to share my problems but we were desperate. I plucked up the courage and rang Nicky Young who was an amazing lifeline. She was polite, courteous and non-judgmental.
The committee kindly offered me assistance and support by providing funds for a laptop to assist me at work and funds for beds for the children – they had been sleeping on mattresses for the last year. Help with the cost of essential redecoration of the bedrooms was also offered. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of the BBA and we are eternally grateful for the help, assistance and support offered to us as a family. We owe a deep gratitude to all who support the fund; it was an absolute lifeline for us.
“Without the BBA I would not be the person I am today”
I was invited by the BBA to consider writing something about my experiences and how BBA assistance has helped. In fact I choose to see it as ‘sponsorship’, which has more than once probably saved my life. In short the BBA has been a lifeline. I agonised over whether to write anonymously or not, but see I’m still not that strong and although some of you will know me and a tiny few of you know a part of my story I’m not yet ready to work with you in the various criminal courts knowing that you know all of this, so please forgive my decision. If you find yourself against me you would have absolutely no idea of my story because I have refused to ever allow it to negatively affect my work and the way in which I relate to others. To rewind a bit, life used to be lovely. I didn’t earn a lot but life wasn’t about money. I plied my trade as a criminal barrister from 1988 with enthusiasm, professionalism and hopefully some charm. Then a double-whammie struck. I was hospitalised two weeks with a serious infection and then my very long established chambers closed rather suddenly.
Oh, and during all of this I was told I had HIV. Please don’t believe all that you read about people with HIV climbing mountains! Although for my part I continue to metaphorically attempt to do so, the daily reality is not always so good. Fatigue has become a permanent feature of my life and this continually and substantially affects my ability to pursue a conventional ‘career’ at the criminal bar. I have had to be more adventurous in my survival strategy. To return to the story, we tenants all found ourselves suddenly scattered to the four-winds. Some retired, others joined nearby chambers whilst I became a parttime sole-practitioner choosing to prosecute in the Magistrates’ Courts only, as an agent-prosecutor. Not really a ‘career’, but over time and with ongoing ‘sponsorship’ (that word again) from the BBA I was able to regain my lost self-esteem and have a reason once more to exist. I even found a satisfying niche as a prosecutor of domestic violence & abuse and also hate crimes. But oh how it’s been a bumpy ride. “The Cuts”! Maybe not so bad from specialist chambers, but from the sharp end of the criminal bar it’s all been a bit different.
My practice came to a sudden end late 2010 as the CPS restructured and abolished agent-prosecutors overnight. And that, as they’d say, was that. So came another spiral of depression and lost identity etc, but I would like to focus on the positive. The BBA have been brilliant. With professional help I refocussed my life and was then accepted at very short notice for university – Let’s call it a career-break, where I studied successfully for the next two years.
Another CPS re-organisation and I am back again part-time, strangely stronger and more enthusiastic than ever and with a whole bunch of newly acquired and relevant skills. Confident too – as I sought to persuade MOJ and JAC that ‘merit’ should better include consideration of disability and disabled lifeexperiences. I volunteer for my police force as an LGBT advisor, to help prevent witness/victim disengagement and improve their experiences. I’ve even returned to university part-time for one initial third year BSc module.
So what is the point of this long paragraph? To say thank you to the BBA. Without the BBA I would not be the person I am today, in fact I would probably no longer be a person. Further, to encourage those of you who can help the BBA financially, to please do so, for there is so much need out there – just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Returned from my career-break I see insecurity and worry all around in the legal professions and even some despair. To conclude, thank you BBA, you’ve been amazing. I soldier on positively hoping for a better world. Although written anonymously, if you too have been affected by HIV I am more than willing to speak or meet with you in total confidence.
Help us help people like you
Most of our clients, for obvious reasons, prefer to remain anonymous. That's why your donation is so important, you could be helping a colleague, friend or their dependants get the financial or emotional support they need and although hopefully you will never need us yourself if the worst was to happen we will be there to help you and your family through any difficulties you may have.
We believe that almost every member of the practicing Bar can afford to donate at least a sum equivalent to one hour of their charging rate without feeling any real difference. If you agree please support us by clicking on the JustGiving button opposite or by contacting Susan or Nicky through the 'Contact us' page of our website.
Quick Enquiry Form
If you have any questions about The Barristers’ Benevolent Association or you'd like to make a commitment to helping Barristers in need of support, please fill out the 'Quick Enquiry Form' by clicking on the button opposite or contact us using the details on the 'Contact us' section of our website.