We believe in giving back to the community. That’s why all staff at Anthony Collins Solicitors (ACS) have the opportunity to get involved with our social purpose volunteering scheme. Running for several years, ACS employees can spend up to three days per year volunteering whilst still being paid.
Our employees find opportunities that are the perfect fit for them. Whether that’s helping at a school or church group, painting furniture at a care home, or even helping run a book festival for the local community. After volunteering, we encourage them to share their experience with others in the team.
Volunteering at Queensbridge School
Alice is a keen advocate of social mobility and equal opportunities. Recently, as part of the scheme, she supported an end of year Viva interview day at Queensbridge School. We asked Alice about her experience and why social purpose volunteering is important to her.
How do you find volunteering opportunities?
ACS is often approached centrally by local organisations and projects in need of volunteers. Often, where an ACS employee has volunteered somewhere, we’ll be asked to return. On other occasions, staff involved in organising projects will recruit colleagues to help out. When I organised a workshop with the National Literacy Trust last year, I needed six or seven people to help, so I reached out to see if anyone wanted to get involved. Or if there’s something you’re already connected to outside of work, then you can use your days to support that cause.
Can you tell us about your experience at Queensbridge School?
A group of us from ACS helped at their end of year Viva interview day. I interviewed about five or six students from different year groups. It gave the students experience of taking part in a formal discussion with a professional. We talked about their progress over the academic year and helped them to focus their goals and development needs.
Some were interested in studying law, but many had other ambitions. It was rewarding to be able to support the students in whatever they wanted to achieve and encourage them to think about what they needed to do to get there.
What did it mean to you to be involved with a project like this?
I was the first in my family to attend university and when thinking about becoming a solicitor, it wasn’t easy for me to get work experience. I remember sending my CV out to lots of organisations and getting no response. When I began training as a solicitor, I realised there was a real need for support for people who don’t have professional connections.
I believe people who are in established professions should take the time to help those whose background means they might struggle to access the same opportunities. Many of us struggled when we were in their position, I certainly did. Even if I only spend an hour with a student, I know I can make a positive impact.
How did the pandemic impact the scheme?
We haven’t stopped volunteering. I’ve done a few things online already. For example, in November, I supported a social mobility charity, The Ahead Partnership, with their female careers panel. The panel was made up of a range of female professionals, such as lawyers, accountants and engineers. We dialled into a local school and gave the students the chance to ask questions. The aim was to inspire girls and help them to understand the range of opportunities available to them. I also organised a speed networking event with the Birmingham Law Society social mobility sub-committee to enable aspiring lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds to build connections.
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