“To have someone listening to you is very healing. The Solicitors’ Charity gave me hope when I thought there was nothing left. They are an untold secret that helps people when they are at their lowest”.
Solicitor Jada Jones’ (name changed for privacy) life turned around when she received support from The Solicitors’ Charity after years of job rejections, loss of self-esteem, mounting debts and ill health. From disheartening and tough beginnings, she is now ‘dreaming big’ – with her sights set on becoming a Tribunal Judge one day.
London-based Jada contracted polio as a child during a visit to West Africa. She spent a childhood wearing a variety of leg braces to walk and suffered many health issues in her youth, which left her feeling she didn’t ‘fit in’ with others.
When she was older, she started training to be a solicitor with a London legal firm. Sadly, that was when things really started to go wrong for her. Although she qualified in 2014, she wasn’t retained by the firm. She had panic attacks and mental distress due to the negativity and criticism she encountered while training.
She started looking for work through recruitment agencies specialising in the legal sector but felt her confidence had gone and this affected her job prospects. Jada’s lost confidence coupled with a degenerative and debilitating disability, which caused excruciating joint pain, left her feeling weaker than ever.
“I’ve always been a survivor. Throughout all this, I tried to stay positive. However, I lost myself, I was in pain, no energy, feeling low and frustrated – I hit rock bottom.”
Sadly, Jada lost her parents, ran up debts as she neglected to keep on track with her finances and was living in bleak accommodation, unsuitable for a disabled person. “I became an ostrich – I put my head in the sand and couldn’t even face opening my mail,” she explained. “I’d become very insular, I needed to interact with others.”
Jada started volunteering with a disabled people’s organisation that focused on supporting disabled lawyers. There she learned about the support she could access, as a qualified lawyer, through The Solicitors’ Charity.
“It was a wonderful turning point for me. Together we took small steps towards clearing my debts, addressing my health issues and looking at the help I could get with claiming benefits and preparing a CV to get me into work. The Solicitors’ Charity was in my corner, supporting me, and I made up my mind to get a job and out of the doldrums”.
Jada’s turning point came the day after the first covid lockdown in March 2020 when she applied for a fee-paid role. To her delight, the career counselling she received from the charity’s partner Renovo, helped her get the job. “The charity really encouraged me and gave me confidence”, she said.
Later that year she started lobbying her local council for a move to a new home with better access for her wheelchair and nicer living conditions. Again, the charity supported her application and eventually she was given the keys to a more suitable home in a safer area where she could live comfortably. The Solicitors’ Charity helped again – with financial support to buy white goods, furniture and a much-needed mobility scooter.
However, she ran into difficulties with State benefits when she notified them of her change in circumstances and found herself facing a demand for ‘overpayment of benefits’.
“I didn’t want to lose my new home and work, it was a terrible worry, and I didn’t want to become ill again, so I contacted the charity who referred me to the specialists they retain at Citizens Advice, who helped me with an appeal which is still ongoing. I know that I have a lot to offer others now – I am doing something purposeful for others and lots to be grateful for. I’m full of positivity and ambition”.
“The Solicitors’ Charity is somewhere to turn to and ask for help, there’s no judgement from them – it’s a place of comfort and support and I’d encourage any other solicitors in difficulty to contact them. I now know the value of hope, rather than facing a bleak future. The charity helps in so many ways, but just to have someone listening to you is very healing”.
Can your firm help The Solicitors’ Charity make a positive difference? We appeal to law firms to step up and partner with us in creating a happier, healthier, and more supported profession. You can make a difference and help solicitors like Jada. Find out more.