Starfish in the City

Starfish, Pinsent Masons’ Corporate Responsibility (CR) Programme, offers numerous opportunities to participate in various social and environmental projects.  We’re each given 25 hours a year to get involved, and to give you a taster of how these can be used, here’s a few of the things I’ve been up to…

In November a group of us from the London office headed off to Mount Carmel College for Girls in Islington to act as group leaders for their ‘Presenting Yourself’ day, where we led workshops on topics such as CV writing and interview skills.  The girls really got involved in the activities, asking loads of questions and becoming increasingly lively as the day went on.  It was lovely to be able to give the girls advice, and great to be back at school for the day!

As the focus of Starfish is ‘inspiring young lives’ many of the projects involve working alongside young people.  Over the past four weeks I have been helping out on Tuesday mornings at Tomorrow’s People, an organization which prepares young people (who are not in school or employment) for the world of work, and helps them to find a job.  The best thing about this programme is being able to return each week, watching the participants’ confidence grow as they proceed through the course, and building up a friendship with them.

There are also a number of good causes we raise money for at the office-level.  For Children in Need, we had a very popular cake sale, and a ‘non-uniform day’, where staff wore jeans and ‘something spotty’ to mark the occasion.  At Christmas, we had the shoebox appeal and carol singing in Charing Cross, both in aid of homeless charity, The Connection, who also hosted an open day at one of their central London shelters for us to see how the money we were raising would be put to use.

Next month, a group of us are signed up to help at the National Indoor Rowing Championships. On the sporting theme, I’m also anticipating some exciting Starfish opportunities to come out of our recently announced sponsorship of the GB handball team at this year’s Olympic Games…watch this space!

Most of our CR work is non-legal in nature, partly because many lawyers like ot take a break from the law and do something a little bit different, but we do still find some time for legal pro bono work too.  A popular Starfish initiative is Amicus, which gives legal aid to convicts in America on death row.  You may have come across the work of this charity at your university. 

Programmes like Starfish have such huge potential to make a difference, it’s great to work at a firm where these types of projects are valued and encouraged, and where new ideas are welcomed. On a personal level, I find getting out of the office, connecting with other parts of the city, interacting with diverse groups of people, and engaging with other issues, a truly invigorating experience.  After which I return to my desk feeling energized and refreshed!