Barristers hunt for a creche

Female barristers at 39 Essex Street have launched pressure group Bar Nursery Association (BNA) to try and get a creche based in one of the Inns of Court.

Jess Connors, Kate Grange and Victoria Butler-Cole decided to initiate a campaign to get childcare facilities in Temple as the trio felt that more practical steps needed to be taken to help women return to work after having children.

Connors, who was called to the bar in 2000, said that it would also help all barristers and their employees achieve the difficult balance between work and family life.

“One obvious solution is the provision of suitable childcare facilities for babies and young children in the Inns of Court,” said Connors. “This will not be an answer for everyone, of course, but the BNA believes that it could substantially ease the burden for a significant number of people.”

The BNA has already received the backing of the Young Bar Committee, the Chancery Bar Association and the Bar Council Equality and Diversity Committee.

Connors added that a report has already been commissioned from a nursery provider to give five-year financial projections for a 40 to 50 place nursery, in a 2,000 sq ft of ground floor space in one of the Inns.

Once the costed proposal is completed the BNA will take its proposal to the four Inns and the Bar Council to ask for their cooperation.

To support BNA’s application for a creche to be located in one of the Inns of Court, the group has kick-started a survey to see whether it a popular idea.

The poll, which so far has had almost 400 respondents, has seen 98.7 per cent back the idea for a nursery with more than 80 per cent being interested in using it for emergency daycare and almost two-thirds saying they would use it regularly.

“Barristers often miss out on the provision that is made for employees of city firms because we do not work within a corporate model,” a barrister said. “I would anticipate that there would be a lot of demand for a service like this.”

Another said: “The bar is not a child-friendly career, something that was largely responsible for my wife leaving it and working elsewhere where she enjoyed maternity leave, flexible working, compassionate leave.”

BNA’s initial findings are also supported by a Bar Council survey of ex-barristers in 2005 where more than a third of respondents felt that if there had been childcare facilities they would have stayed at the bar. This figure increased in 50 per cent among women surveyed.

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