Valerie Charbit recognised for her work on wellbeing by Bar Council as Chambers marks Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

May 18, 2023

Valerie Charbit, Wellbeing Director in Chambers and the Wellbeing Committee that she leads with Lauren Sales, Caroline Baker, Emily Mattin and clerk David Pilkington have received a Bar Council Certificate of Recognition for their work on wellbeing.

Valerie Charbit has represented the Criminal Bar Association as Wellbeing Director and led the South Eastern Circuit on wellbeing and she is now leading on a Kindness Initiative for lawyers with the South Eastern Circuit.

The Kindness project in collaboration with South Eastern Circuit will promote the kindness initiative by further research to see how it can become an ethos within the profession. Recent research conducted by Valerie and Professor Robin Banerjee (University of Sussex) highlighted that kinder workplaces create a more positive environment for productive work with 3 overarching themes arising namely: Explicit and implicit rules of conduct, Workplace contexts and conditions and Individual differences in levels of kindness. The project now seeks to co-create strategies with the Bar so as to foster a kinder culture. Nicola Shannon KC, Wellbeing Director for the South Eastern Circuit and Chair of the Bar Council’s working party group on wellbeing will work with Valerie and Robin to take the project forward this year. Upon receiving the award Valerie commented:

“I am delighted to have been recognised for this work on Wellbeing in a week where we are focusing on Mental Health Awareness and the theme of anxiety. Kindness at the Bar, embraced from the top down and the bottom up, and actively promoted by all parts of the profession can go a long way in supporting our practitioners from burn out and excruciating worries.”

RLC members continue to participate in a wide range of activities hosted by the Wellbeing Committee from art classes, scavenger hunts, book club and takeaway nights. In addition, Chambers Well-Being Committee has launched a new Supervision Scheme where a trial group of members meet for supervision to discuss work generally and any issues they might be experiencing arising from working on traumatic cases.

Joint Heads of Chambers Gillian Jones KC and Tony Shaw KC said:

“We are thrilled to see the work of Chamber’s Well-Being Committee being recognised and congratulate our Head of Wellbeing, Valerie Charbit for all her superb work and dedication to wellbeing both in Chambers and across the Bar. As a Chambers we are keen to ensure that we provide ways in which all our members and staff can protect their wellbeing. With court backlogs, the pressure of long working hours and family/personal commitments we continue to prioritise mental health in Chambers. Our newly launched Supervision Scheme will provide specialist support from trained supervisors for members as we are only too aware of the importance of mental health and how our work can take its toll and give rise to anxiety.”

Watch video discussion on Kindness at the Bar between Valerie Charbit and Professor Robin Banerjee here: [Vimeo]
Bar Council news story: [Bar Council]
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week please see: [Mental Health Foundation ]