Bar Council signs new deal to ramp up wellbeing support for barristers

Posted On: 
13th November 2018

A new partnership has today been announced between the Bar Council and Health Assured to offer a new Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to the entire self-employed Bar.

Generously funded by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund (BMIF), this marks a significant increase in assistance available to members of the Bar as part of the Wellbeing at the Bar programme.

Health Assured will provide the confidential telephone support and counselling service, and will also offer access to a wide range of wellbeing fact sheets, videos, self-help programmes, interactive tools and educational resources. These will complement existing wellbeing resources and can be found through the Wellbeing at the Bar website.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has successfully pioneered this type of assistance programme for its members over the last 12 months and the new Bar Council deal will enhance support already on offer for CBA members and extend coverage to the whole of the self-employed Bar.

The Bar Council will also make this service available to members of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) and the Legal Practice Management Association (LPMA), who will each cover the costs of their own members. This reflects the collaborative and inclusive approach being taken on wellbeing. 

Andrew Walker QC, Chair of the Bar, said: “The wellbeing of barristers in all areas of practice is something that cannot be taken for granted.  The pressures that they now face are such that we need to make sure that ongoing support is available, whenever it might be needed.  The findings of our ‘Barristers’ Working Lives’ survey in the last year clearly indicated immense levels of stress felt by members of the Bar, with those at the criminal Bar being among those most badly affected, so we are grateful for the crucial work of the CBA in taking a lead by offering a bespoke telephone helpline for the last 12 months.

“We are also hugely appreciative of the commitment that BMIF has shown in providing the funding needed to extend and enhance this helpline support.  We hope that our new partnership with Health Assured will go a long way towards ensuring that those at the self-employed Bar, and those who support them in a professional or personal capacity, always have somewhere to turn.”

Valerie Charbit and Sarah Vine of the CBA said: “This assistance is essential to our members who are facing unprecedented challenges both in terms of work load and content. It will provide crucial support for those who struggle to manage the ever-increasing demands of a criminal practice. We are delighted that the EAP scheme is now available to all self-employed barristers.”

Nick Hill, Chair of the IBC, said: “The Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) are delighted to be able to join the Bar Council and Legal Practice Managers Association (LPMA) in offering the Health Assured scheme to our members. Clerks play a crucial role in being aware of their colleagues’ and barristers’ mental health in chambers.  Clerks are not immune to the pressures of life at the Bar and the IBC has played a pivotal role in bringing these issues to the fore and to provide education on wellbeing issues. The introduction of the EAP scheme is an extension of that work and commitment and is further evidence of the support that the IBC gives to its members.”

Catherine Calder of the Legal Practice Management Associations said: “We are delighted to join forces with the BC and the IBC in offering this service to the Bar, including those working in a staff capacity as well as barristers.  We hope LPMA members and others will find it a vital resource both for individuals with well-being issues and those who are trying to support them. There’s also a wider benefit in the message the introduction of this scheme sends about an understanding of well-being issues and a commitment to addressing the problem within the profession.”