Barristers' Benevolent Association

Terence Mowschenson QC explains the work of the BBA

The Barristers’ Benevolent Association (BBA) exists to support, help and comfort those members of the Bar in England and Wales, including the judiciary, who are in need, in distress or in difficulties. Founded in 1873, the BBA has helped barristers and their families in every circuit. The criteria are that the applicant is needy and worthy. The aim is, wherever possible, to overcome the problem and rebuild the applicant’s life, dignity and career.


“Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door” - Charles Dickens

Reasons for needing help can include serious long-term or terminal illness, short-term health scares or accidents affecting income for weeks or months, unexpected financial problems due to circumstances beyond the beneficiary’s control, or problems of old age. Although the BBA cannot offer specific advice, its staff can point people towards those who can, particularly in cases of financial need. They are also happy to be a contact on the phone, someone to call for a reassuring chat.

In appropriate cases the BBA is able to offer financial help, as a grant or a secured or unsecured loan. If all else fails it can help with IVAs and bankruptcies. Some beneficiaries receive regular “disregard” grants to top up their DSS benefits as well as other specific occasional help.

In exceptional circumstances help has been given to enable children to remain at their chosen school if they are at a vital stage of their education and single parents have been helped with school uniforms, a new pair of shoes or a birthday treat. Special help can be given with funding a much-needed holiday break, providing a computer, paying telephone bills, mending or replacing home equipment. Every case is unique and every application is considered on its own merits and circumstances.

The BBA is extremely grateful to everyone who contributes their time and energy to support us. In addition to the Head Office, Officers and Committee, a strong team of Circuit Representatives play an important role in promoting awareness of, and fundraising for, the BBA.

Without the many donors, private individuals, chambers, trusts and other organizations, the BBA’s work would have to be severely restricted or even stop altogether.

‘Do it’ for the BBA: how you can help
The BBA relies on generous voluntary donations from individual members, chambers and others associated with the profession. There are many ways in which you can help:

Can you afford to give one hour of your time to help a friend or colleague? The BBA believes that almost every member of the practising Bar can afford to donate at least a sum equivalent to one hour of their charging rate without feeling a real difference.

Gift aid: All donations to charity by UK taxpayers can be treated as Gift Aid and BBA can reclaim 25p tax paid on every £1.00 donated. Higher rate tax relief is available to donors.

Bequests and legacies: Making a bequest is a convenient way of supporting the BBA after your death and such gifts form an important source of income.

Volunteer: Time is the most valuable resource. If you can help by volunteering, visiting beneficiaries, fundraising and promoting please contact the BBA.

Support and run events: The BBA can arrange for you to join challenge events – the London 10K run, trekking on foot, bicycling or on a horse – in China, Peru, Uganda, Jordan or other unusual places. The BBA has received magnificent help through the Annual Legal Charities Garden Party at Lincoln’s Inn. People have donated their fees for speaking and training, royalties on books and proceeds from sale of wigs and gowns.

Listed shares: Tax relief is available for companies and individuals on the gift of listed shares to a charity. This tax relief is in addition to the existing relief for gifts of shares, securities and other assets to charity when calculating capital gains.

Justgiving.com: Visit the BBA page on justgiving.com and use it to support your own efforts on the BBA’s behalf.

Terence Mowschenson QC is Chairman of the BBA

Case study
“Several years ago my normal happy life as a sole practitioner criminal barrister came to a disastrous end when I suffered a serious stroke which left me paralysed down my left side, unable to walk, work or use my left arm, dazed, depressed – effectively helpless.

“Amongst many things which I needed were a special bed, armchair and wheelchair, not to mention money just to live on. The BBA helped not only with them but with the cost of my move to special accommodation.

“I really wish that those who have contributed to the BBA knew what a wonderful job they do for barristers like myself who have fallen on hard times. I would not be here to write this if it were not for them and their staff. The moral of my story is that disaster can fall on anyone at any time.”

 

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