We are voluntary signatories to the Law Society’s Diversity & Inclusion Charter, and we work hard to become inclusive both as an employer and a service provider. We attend events and work with a number of local Teesside groups from marginalised areas of society, supporting their work and offering legal advice and work experience where possible.
SUPPORTING WOMEN TODAY – FOR BLACK AFRICAN WOMEN – 14/7/2017
Gemma Watson attended the Middlesbrough meeting of Woman Today, a women only group which is aimed towards supporting and encouraging all women, but particularly those of Black African ethnicity, in areas such as education, health, employment and more.
HILLSVIEW ACADEMY – “SECRET EMPLOYER” EVENT – 13/7/2017
Gemma attended as a secret employer, sitting in a Year 9 class without their knowledge of why, to assess them for employability and then to provide feedback. One student was then chosen to receive special recognition in a meeting with the Head.
SPONSORING A TEAM – THE JUSTICE FIRST REFUGEE FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT – 20/05/2017
The firm sponsored a football team at the event, organised by Middlesbrough FC’s Curtis Fleming, who is a patron of organising charity, Justice First. The event aims to bring together refugees of war torn countries together through the power of football. Read more here.
SUPPORTING RECOVERY CONNECTIONS – BECOMING A TRUSTEE – Summer 2017
Our Manager, Gemma Watson, became a trustee of local peer led recovery organisation, Recovery Connections (formerly Hope NE). The charity’s aim is to inspire, motivate, empower and support all those affected by substance misuse to sustain long term recovery.
SPONSORSHIP OF THE BLACK HISTORY YOUTH AWARDS – CULTURES CIC – 21/10/2016
As part of our commitment to supporting those from ethnic minorities in Teessde, we offered sponsorship to Cultures CIC towards the Black History Youth Awards. Read more about the awards, which celebrate the achievements of local black youths on Teesside on Cultures CIC’s website here.
OFFERING TRAINING WORKSHOP TO VOLUNTEER BEFRIENDERS OF KINSHIP CARERS – 20/10/2016
The Relative Experience Project offers support to kinship carers. Kinship carers are family or friends who take on the care of a child who would otherwise be adopted out of the family. We offer ongoing training workshops free of charge to befrienders who offer peer-to-peer support of those who are or intend to become kinship carers. Our training helps provide befrienders with knowledge of the care process and different types of court order, so that they are in a position to support kinship carers. Our workshops are provided to the groups free of charge.
HIGHLY COMENDED IN THE LAW SOCIETY EXCELLENCE AWARDS – 20/10/2016
We were delighted to be highly commended by the Judges in these prestigious legal awards for our work in Diversity and Inclusion. You can see the winners list and read more about the awards here.
WINNERS IN THE NORTH EAST EQUALITY AWARDS – 20/10/2016
For the second year, we were honoured to be awarded the Organisations of 1-50 Employees award – read more about our win here.
PJW FINALISTS IN THE EQUALITY NORTH EAST AWARDS – 19/09/2016
For the second year running, we have been shortlisted as finalists in the “Organisations of up to 50 staff” category of these regional awards which are due to be judged on 20th October 2016. We were previous winners of this category in 2015.
SHORTLISTED IN THE LAW SOCIETY EXCELLENCE AWARDS
We are delighted to have been listed as finalists in two categories; Diversity & Inclusion and Pro Bono. These industry awards are judged at a ceremony in London on 20th October 2016, which Paul and Gemma Watson will be attending. The shortlisted firms can be found here.
WINNERS AT THE ENEI AWARDS 2016 – 07/07/2016
Paul Watson attended the awards ceremony held at the Law Society, Chancery Lane, London. The firm was awarded the Community Initiative Award. Details of all the winners can be found here.
WINNERS AT THE NORTHERN LAW AWARDS 2016 – 23/06/16
The team attended the awards ceremony in Newcastle and were named joint winners of the Pro Bono/Community Initiative Award.
WELCOMING THE STRANGER – REFUGEE MAPPING SERVICES EVENT – 08/06/16
Our Practice Manager, Gemma Watson, attended the event held at Newport Hub which brought together organisations from the local Teesside area which provide services and support to refugees with the intention of mapping which services are available and where. This will allow individual organisations to better support refugees and asylum seekers in making best use of the specialist services available in Teesside.
PAUL J WATSON SOLICITOR NAMED AS FINALISTS IN THE ENEI AWARDS 2016 – 26/05/2016
(ENEI = Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion)
The ENEI Awards offer the opportunity to recognise the commitment of organisations to achieving diverse and inclusive workplaces and celebrate the teams and individuals who are really making a difference.
We are delighted to be part of the Shortlist for the enei Awards 2016. This year the judges reviewed 126 entries across 19 categories to identify and reward the people and organisations who have really committed to achieving diverse and inclusive workplaces.
Our successful applications are for;-
- Advancing Social Mobility in the Workplace, and;
- Community Impact.
We will be joining other finalists at a ceremony at the Law Society, London, in July.
Here is the shortlist.
PAUL J WATSON SOLICITOR NAMED AS WINNERS IN THE INTERNATIONAL CSR EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2016 – 19/05/2016
Again we can announce that we are winners in the awards representing some the best organisations in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility.
The awards are part of a national campaign to find Britain’s most caring companies. Our application competed against more than 200 other nominations and we will be presented with our trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony in The Crystal, London, on 8th August.
PAUL J WATSON SOLICITOR NAMED AS FINALISTS IN THREE CATEGORIES AT THE NORTHERN LAW AWARDS 2016 – 01/04/2016
We are delighted to say that we are finalists in the following categories;-
1. Small Firm of the Year
2. Team of the Year – Family
3. Pro Bono/Community Initiative
ATTENDING “WOMEN FOR PEACE IN A WORLD OF WAR” CONFERENCE – 19TH MARCH 2016
Gemma Watson attended the conference organised by her fellow Soroptimists of Middlesbrough. The event heard from speakers such as Laura Pidcock (Show Racism the Red Card) and heard from a refugee on her experiences in fleeing and being placed in the UK.
PROVIDING LEGAL INFORMATION SESSIONS FOR THE BRITISH RED CROSS – 18th March 2016
Paul Watson took time out from his busy schedule to speak with refugees and asylum seekers about the different basic laws that apply in this country, for example what might fail the expected parenting standards, such as leaving a child in the house alone, triggering the involvement of Social Services.
PAUL J WATSON SOLICITOR JOINS THE NORTH EAST CHAMBER OF COMMERCE – 11th MARCH 2016
Gemma met with Tom Warnock of the NECC and joined the firm to the Chamber. We hope to work with local business people as a result, and to take advantage of the many opportunities offers by membership.
ATTENDING THE HOPE NORTHEAST FILM SCREENING – “THIS ISN’T ME”
“A creative, innovative, poetry via film in motion. Hope Northeast at their finest delivering creative film courses to people in recovery from addiction and mental health.”
We attended to support the Charity and its service users in the screening of their film which was created to raise awareness of how people may feel when going through addiction. The film was fantastic and was the culmination of the very hard work put in by a group of service users and filmmaker, David McCollum.
You can view the film here.
The firm offers free monthly legal clinics for service users at Hope Northeast.
ATTENDING THE BME NETWORK EVENT WITH CLEVELAND POLICE – 10th March 2016
Paul and Gemma attended the event organised by the BME Network to discuss how the Police could better engage with the BME (Black Minority Ethnic) community. We learnt much about how we could widen our recruitment efforts in future, by using media such as Community Voice Radio. Many prominent local people from the BME community attended and spoke at the event, including Yasmin Khan of Halo, Idrees Rashid and local Councillor Zaffar Uddin.
CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2016 AT TEESSIDE UNIVERSITY – 5th MARCH 2016
We spent an enjoyable day at Teesside University celebrating International Women’s Day #iwd2016. Some fantastic speakers, including Susan Manseray who spoke about female genital mutilation and Her Honour Judge Mathews QC (Designated Family Judge for Middlesbrough). A big thank you to our team who gave up their Saturday to attend.
SPONSORSHIP OF THE LOCAL SOLUTION AWARD – MIDDLESBROUGH VOLUNTARY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY’S “VCS AWARDS” – 25th February 2016
Paul and Gemma Watson attended the Voluntary and Charitable Sector Awards in support of local community groups.
“The successful event brought together over 200 volunteers, trustees, staff and supporters to celebrate how the VCS involves, influences and impacts on communities across Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland. Over 75 nominations were received and the winners and shortlist below were picked by an independent panel of judges.” MVDA
Gemma presented the award sponsored by the firm, “The Local Solution”, which was awarded to TS1 Tees Valley.
WINNER – TS1 Tees Valley
St Aidan’s Breakfast Club
Tots 2 Teens
WINNERS OF THE NORTH EAST BUSINESS AWARDS – HEART OF THE COMMUNITY – TEESSIDE HEAT – 25th February 2016
Congratulations to all our fellow winners and finalists. A great evening full of local talent at Teesside University’s new Olympia building. Let’s hope we all bring some trophies home to Teesside from the regional final in April.
WORK EXPERIENCE PROJECT BEGINS WITH HILLSVIEW ACADEMY – February 2016
The firm began a working partnership with the school to offer work experience placements regularly to young people from less privileged backgrounds and from Black Minority Ethnic backgrounds who may have an interest in law and business. Young people will be placed with the firm and this will be a longstanding arrangement with the school to ensure that quality work experience is available and inclusive.
This is arranged through our membership of the PRIME Commitment Scheme, a scheme designed to broaden access to the legal profession.
PJW SIGN THE “TIME FOR CHANGE” PLEDGE – 29th January 2016
We chose to sign the Time for Change Pledge, confirming our commitment to take action to tackle the stigma of mental health problems in the workplace. As part of that pledge, we took part in the Time for Change event, with leaflets and free teabags for a “cuppa and a chat” in our reception for people to sit down and talk about their mental health.
FREE TRAINING PROVIDERS TO VOLUNTEERS OFFERING TO SUPPORT KINSHIP CARERS – 13th January 2016
We provided training for #kinship carer befriender volunteers today. Pam Kandola talked with the volunteers about the care process so that they could offer informed support to local kinship carers. Our session was offered free of charge in support of local kinship carers via The Relative Experience Project.
You can find out more about this North East project and where to obtain support as a kinship carer here.
WINNERS OF THE ORGANISATIONS WITH 1-50 EMPLOYEES AWARD AT THE NE EQUALITY AWARDS – 29th October 2016
We were delighted to be presented with the above award for our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, both within our firm and externally in our dealings with clients and organisations.
You can read more about our entry and the other very worthy winners here.
ATTENDING THE BLACK HISTORY YOUTH AWARDS 2015
Paul and Gemma Watson attended the Black History Youth Awards at Teesside University Hub, an event organised by Cultures CIC of Stockton to support local youths from minority backgrounds.
“This prestigious black tie event will recognise and celebrate the importance of hard work, cultural diversity and showcase efforts of black youths.” – Cultures CIC.
BECOMING A MENTOR – “IT’S YOU AND ME” MENTORING PROJECT
After the Black History Youth Awards event, Gemma agreed to become a mentor for a young black person as part of the Cultures CIC’s “It’s You and Me” mentoring project. Gemma is undertaking ongoing mentoring with a young black girl to support her future career development.
WINNERS OF THE OUTSTANDING CHARITY SUPPORT BY SMALL/MEDIUM COMPANY AT THE NE CHARITY AWARDS – 10th October 2015
We were honoured to receive the above award as a result of our continued commitment to working with charities and voluntary groups.
The competition we faced was outstanding and all attendees were a credit to the local region.
The award and certificate will take pride of place in our reception area!
You can see the Evening Gazette’s article on the firm and our fellow Teesside winner, Cath McNicholl, here.
THE TEAM ATTENDS THE “MY SISTER’S PLACE” ROARING 20’S BALL – 2nd October 2015
For the second year we sponsored the My Sister’s Place fundraising ball. This time the theme was 1920s and TeamPJW had a great time dressing up for the event, which ultimately raised £13,236 in funds put directly back into the charity to support its work in protecting, advising and supporting local women suffering domestic abuse.
SHORTLISTED AS FINALISTS FOR THE EQUALITY NE AWARDS – Oct. 2015
We received confirmation that we had been shortlisted as finalists in the category for Organisations with up to 50 staff. Not only this but the judges then put us forward for the Outstanding Practice category with 5 other worthy finalists. The awards ceremony will be held on 29th October 2015 at the Marriott Hotel in Gosforth.
MACMILLAN COFFEE MORNING – 25th September 2015
In support of the fantastic work that Macmillan Cancer Trust undertakes, the firm held a coffee morning. Our staff were up all night (a small exaggeration!) making cakes for sale and we raised £80.63 in memory of our practice manager’s father-in-law, Joseph Gouder, who sadly lost his battle to cancer.
ATTENDING THE BME AWARDS TEESSIDE 2015
Paul and Gemma Watson attending this event at local hotel The Thistle in support of the outstanding contribution made to our local community by those from Black Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
This was a fantastic event and we were pleased to see some of the people from groups that we know work very hard locally be recognised with official awards.
SUPPORTED THE CULTURES CIC “I SAY + YOU SAY = WE SAY” CONFERENCE – SATURDAY 19TH SEPTEMBER 2015.
This event aimed to work with Black Minority Ethnic parents and their children and discuss education, volunteering, Social Services involvement and the challenges presented in growing up in the UK.
Paul and Gemma Watson attended to offer their perspective as both employer and legal expert, and Gemma spoke to parents and children about the benefits of volunteering and gaining valuable work experience to enhance future employment prospects.
SHORTLISTED AS FINALISTS FOR THE NE CHARITY AWARDS – Sept. 2015
We were contacted by organisers to confirm that following a nomination by Mari Dilworth from The Relative Experience Project, the firm had been shortlisted as finalists for the category Outstanding Charity Support by Small/medium (1-50 employees) companies, which was very exciting! We arranged to attend the finals held at the Marriott Hotel in Gosforth with Mari and Georgina Fletcher and Herbert Dirahu of the Regional Refugee Forum in October.
REGIONAL REFUGEE FORUM TRAINING – 23rd JULY & 29th JULY 2015
We met with the RRF and heard of the difficulties that refugees and asylum seekers were facing in respect of a lack of knowledge of the child protection and care laws in this country. After discussing the difficulties that individuals had experienced locally, we agreed to set up free training initially for key community activists in the refugee community regionally. The events were held in both Teesside and Tyneside and were hugely successful and we hope to offer further training to the groups in the future.
ATTENDING THE TEES VALLEY CITY OF SANCTUARY LAUNCH EVENT – 22nd June 2015
Gemma Watson and Pam Kandola attended the City of Sanctuary launch event held during Refugee Week.
“The event included a delicious international buffet and entertainment from local musicians, dancers and singers. Jonathan Ellis gave an inspiring keynote speech and Pete Widlinski presented the aims and purpose of Tees Valley of Sanctuary. A range of creative activities took place including readings from Abingdon Primary school pupils including this brilliant true story from 11 year old refugee Saira about Libya. Many stories were shared and there were updates from different streams of sanctuary in Tees Valley: Schools of Sanctuary, Musicians of Sanctuary, and the Faith Groups of Sanctuary who promoted their document “I was a stranger”. ” – Tees Valley City of Sanctuary
The firm is a signatory to the resolution of support of the Teesside City of Sanctuary scheme, pledging its welcome and support of local refugees. This resolution includes welcoming and including people seeking sanctuary in the activities of the firm, and to making practical efforts to build relationships between those seeking sanctuary and local people.
Donations of clothing and toys have been given by members of the firm to both refugee and kinship carer groups on a number of occasions.
ATTENDING THE ISLAMIC DIVERSITY CENTRE’S “AGAINST RACISM” EVENT IN NEWCASTLE – 21st May 2015
Paul and Gemma Watson, together with Head of Family Department Pam Kandola, attended IDC North East‘s informative “Against Racism, Against Hatred” event. The event highlighted the current Islamaphobia which is demonstrably prevalent in the British Media and amongst some of the public. We also heard from the Ann Frank Trust and discussed the similarities between the current Islamaphobic problems faced by British Muslims and the early beginnings and rise of Nazi Germany, persecution of the Jewish people and the subsequent Holocaust.
KINSHIP CARERS TRAINING – FEB – MAY 2015
After attending a local event raising awareness about kinship carers, a largely unknown group of fantastic friends and family members who step in when a child of the family is going to be taken into care. They take on the care and responsibility for that child, sometimes with the benefit of a court order but often simply on an agreed placement with Children’s Services. As a result they incur much financial expenditure, but do not always receive financial assistance, for example if there is an agreed placement or a residence order granted.
We became involved with the Relative Experience Project as a result, so we attended various local events and support meetings, and ultimately offered training to the kinship carers who wished to become befrienders for other kinship carers. The aim of the project is to empower others, so that they do not have to rely on professionals to speak for them. The KCs have been involved in both local and national campaigning and have set up various support groups locally, such as the Middlesbrough Kinship Carers.
SUPPORTING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2015 EVENT AT THE TOWN HALL, MIDDLESBROUGH – 7th March 2015 – #MAKEITHAPPEN
We formed part of the planning committee for the annual event organised by Middlesbrough Borough Council. Our team attended on a Saturday to engage with local organisations and the general public, raising awareness about the theme this year and inviting people to try and identify key historical women from their photographs who “made it happen”.
LISTED ON STONEWALL’S REGISTER OF LGBT FRIENDLY SERVICES – March 2015
Having attended Middlesbrough Pride, we felt it was important to declare our firm as being LGBT inclusive and friendly, so we applied to Stonewall to join their register of LGBT friendly companies.
MY SISTER’S PLACE – ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL CHARITY BALL 2014
Paul J Watson Solicitor was the main sponsor for local domestic abuse refuge My Sister’s Place charity fundraiser;-
“‘Another Brick in the Wall Ball’ is My Sister’s Place first charity ball set up to help raise funds for a much needed expansion of current services. Our expansion project needs a total of £280k and is vital to ensure that we continue to meet a sustained increase in demand in Middlesbrough. We work with clients to help them change their lives, escape their abusive relationship and become empowered, creating a lasting improvement on their health and wellbeing.”
Having worked with the charity for some time by supporting service users with legal issues, we know first hand the excellent level of support that they offer to local Teesside women who are suffering or have suffered abuse. We were keen to show our support of their charity fundraiser, which through their hard work and dedication was a resounding success.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2014 – ‘INSPIRING CHANGE’
We were delighted by the invitation to form part of the planning group for this event, which focused upon encouraging women to make positive changes to their lives.
Inspirational speakers such as Steph McGovern (BBC Business News), Jacqui Cheer (Cleveland Police) and Sharon Gayter (Ultra marathon runner) gave motivational speeches and many were very moving. The event was a resounding success and we were very grateful to be part of it.
We had a lot of interest from both members of the public and other stall holders in the stand that we worked hard to display and the work that we do.
We are also part of the planning group for 2015.
DORMANSTOWN UNDER 8’s TEAM
As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility and commitment to educating and supporting young people, we agreed to sponsor the Dormanstown Under 8’s team.
The team did not have its own kit as they had outgrown the previous one and needed funds to purchase a new one, so we offered to pay for a new strip.
SUPPORTING THE WHITE RIBBON CAMPAIGN – DOMESTIC ABUSE CONFERENCE
This conference included various attendees; criminal and family solicitors, local authority children services, community safety boards, social workers, GP’s, health care professionals, Cafcass, Guardians, court staff, CPS, Police, women’s refuges and charities.
To link with both International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and White Ribbon Day, Gateshead Council and Trinity Chambers worked together to deliver the Domestic Abuse Conference.
The purpose of the conference is to raise awareness and understanding of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) and to understand the connection between MARACs and legal aid for high risk victims of domestic abuse.
SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE LEGAL AID CUTS – MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, LONDON
We were committed to fighting the cuts and Paul Watson travelled to London with other local solicitors to lobby the Government.
Our stance is that the removal of legal aid for many working class and middle class people has left justice accessible only to a minority who can meet the Government’s stringent requirements and the rich.
Even for those who do still qualify, there is an ongoing battle for them to provide all the financial documents and information required to sufficiently satisfy the Legal Aid Agency. Often these are people who have fled their homes due to abuse or who live very chaotic lifestyles and helping them to obtain the voluminous financial documentation that we need to provide is frequently very challenging.