My life does not revolve around law to the exclusion of everything else. I am most grateful for the many people who have enriched my life and added to my experiences.
Whatever your profession, I do feel that individuals can participate to give more back to the society they are part of.
I am personally involved with various societies and charities and I write here to give you a background about them as they are close to my heart and I hope to raise awareness to the Chinese community about the resources available:
Toynbee Hall’s Free Legal Advice Centre
My involvement with Toynbee Hall arose after I had decided to take on my employment with Edwards Duthie Solicitors. My specialism is Commercial Property but as a solicitor who previously practised in an array of areas of law I decided to take the chance to continue to put my legal knowledge and experience to good use. I contacted Emma Pheby who is the Legal Advice Centre Manager and things continued from there. I am most grateful to my employer, Edwards Duthie for allowing me to actively participate in pro bono events as it is very rewarding as a solicitor to be able to “give back” to those in need (in particular during these hard times when Legal Aid funding has been cut back drastically).
Toynbee Hall, which houses the oldest pro bono society in the country, was founded in 1884 and is located in Tower Hamlets (52 Old Castle Street London E1 7AJ). The centre is normally buzzing when I enter on Saturdays and is serviced by like-minded volunteer lawyers, trainees and paralegals. Primarily it is a community organisation with the sole aim of pioneering ways to reduce poverty and disadvantage in East London, and across London. The Centre prides itself in giving “the country’s most deprived communities a voice” in providing free legal advice and support services to help tackle social injustice.
The Centre offers telephone translation services so anyone of any race or background would have full access to their services. For the Chinese community they are able to communicate in Mandarin and Cantonese through the use of these translators. So if you know of anyone in need and in a disadvantaged position, please send them to the centre; the details are set out below:
Telephone: 020 7392 2978
Email: [email protected]
Drop in triage sessions are provided at their office in Old Castle Street, London (E1 7AJ) during the daytime between 10-4pm (closed 1-2pm for lunch) Monday-Friday. From here an appointment will be made with an appropriate member of the Free Legal Advice Centre pro bono team. Please call the Centre and an appointment would be offered to those in need.
West Essex Music Cooperative
Cathy Davies is a dedicated music teacher and I have got to know her very well after I accepted her invitation to become trustee of the music charity she was setting up.
In her own words, she sets out her thoughts on the topic of music:
It may come of interest and a surprise to many that the first subject to be introduced as a degree at Oxford and Cambridge was in fact Music. This was because Music is the subject that teaches the most. Through it’s study, a range of skills are acquired including Mathematics and Engineering. It also develops personal qualities such as sensitivity. At this time, we have an aging population and there is now mounting evidence of the help music can give to people affected by brain degeneration. Music helps people of all ages in a multitude of ways.
Despite all this, Music is often one of the first areas from which funds are cut. This situation has prompted me to take action and I have set up a Community action group with the help of some local professional people to provide Music in the area where funds or facilities would otherwise prevent it. We are currently providing Music services at a deprived school and our next projects this Autumn will include providing free concerts in residential homes and creating a choir for dementia sufferers. Future projects planned include bringing live music to patients in intensive care.
We are entirely self funded, largely by supporters shopping via easyfundraising.org.uk and supporting West Essex Music Cooperative and are always grateful for more supporters. We are always keen to hear from volunteers at [email protected] .
From speaking with Cathy, I understand that choirs will be set up for local community groups such as a Chinese Choir and Choirs for the Elderly. I would encourage Chinese speaking participants to be in touch with the group to participate as I am sure it would be an enjoyable pastime for many.