The Tumbling Lassie Ball 2017

I just received an email regarding the Tumbling Lassie Ball 2017 in aid of victims of modern slavery and people trafficking. The name of the Ball comes from a little known case Reid v Scot of Harden decided in the Court of Session in 1687. It was about a little girl, a stage gymnast, who ran away from her manager, a Mr Reid, because she was physically worn out by her work, dancing as part of his travelling stage show. She had taken shelter with Scott of Harden and his wife but Reid sued the Scots claiming he had bought the girl from her mother and that she belonged to him. The Scottish Court of Session refused Reid’s claim with the case report declaring “But we have no slaves in Scotland, and mothers cannot sell their bairns.”

Yet centuries later we have modern slavery. The definition of this taken from Modern Slavery Facts-Walk Free is “when one person possesses or controls another person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty , with the intention of exploiting that person through their use , profit, transfer or disposal”.

Here are some very unpalatable facts also contained in an information sheet by the Walk Free Foundation.

  • 8 million people are enslaved
  • 68% are subject to forced labour
  • Nearly 1 in 3 detected victims of slavery is a child
  • Slavery is illegal in almost every nation on earth but still exists everywhere
  • Over half victims of slavery are women and girls
  • Slave labour contributes to the production of at least 136 goods from 74 countries worldwide.
  • The majority of victims are trafficked by someone they know and trust
  • Victims of slavery can be as young as 5 or 6 years old.

On the 28 May 2016 The Guardian published an article “A Slave in Scotland: I fell into a trap-and I couldn’t get out”. In 2009 Abdul Azad left his wife and baby son in Bangladesh expecting to start work as a chef in a restaurant in London. This was arranged by Shamsul Arefin whom he had met after responding to an advert in a Dhaka paper offering jobs as a chef in the UK. With the promise of a good life and a better job Azad borrowed £15,000 from moneylenders and raised another £5000 by selling his family land, his business and finally his wife’s jewellery to pay Arefin his sponsorship fee.

When Azad arrived in London he was told by Arefin to get a coach to Glasgow and then another bus to Ballachulish where he was taken to the Stewart Hotel. He spent months there as the sole employee , cleaning, cooking and gardening for up to 22 hours a day seven days a week for which he was never paid more than £100 a month which was just enough to send something home. Other Bangladeshi men began to arrive at the hotel to be treated as Azad having also paid large amounts of money to Arefin for sponsorship.

One day Arefin had left the hotel and the trafficked men took the one bus to Fort William and walked into the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and asked for help. A few weeks later the hotel was raided by the UK Border Agency and Arefin’s sponsor licence was revoked.

The story however does not have a happy ending. The men got the help of a case worker Jim Laird of Migrant Help and the Home Office agreed that they could stay in the UK on short term temporary visas if they agreed to be witnesses in a criminal investigation into Arefin and the Stewart Hotel. It took five years for the criminal case to come to trial. In July 2015 Shamsul Arefin was found guilty of human trafficking under the Asylum and Immigration Act and was given a three year prison sentence. But this conviction did little to help his former workers who are still fighting to stay in the UK while they try to claim compensation or be able to work to pay off their debts back home. As the article has said the men are “All terrified that their lives, and those of their families, will be at risk if they are forced to return, unable to pay their debts.”

The proceeds from The Tumbling Lassie Ball 2017 will be shared between TARA which works to support victims of trafficking in Scotland and the International Justice Mission, which works with local lawyers in the developing world to fight slavery.

I hope that the Ball will be a resounding success.

Mitchells Roberton Great Solicitors Bake Off

On Thursday 29 September 2016 our firm held a bake off competition to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

There were 6 entrants Alison, Angela, Jan, Paul, Sarah and Willie. Each produced wonderful cakes.

The judges were our very own Paul Hollywood (aka Donald Reid) and Mary Berry (aka) Morag Inglis.

After much tasting and deliberation the judges came to a decision.

While complementing all the entrants on their baking skills they named the top three bakers in reverse order:

Paul was third

Jan was second

ALISON WAS THE WINNER WITH HER PERFECT CARROT CAKE.

I have to say that if I had been a judge Sarah’s white chocolate and strawberry cheese cake would have been my number 1 !

The cakes were then all enjoyed by the rest of the staff.

We raised £220 and had a lot of fun.

Project Ability

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Mitchells Roberton are delighted to support Project Ability. The charity was set up in 1984 and is a Glasgow based visual arts organisation with an international reputation for excellence. The project creates opportunities for people with disabilities and people with mental health issues, aged 5 to 80 plus, to express themselves artistically.

I am told that over 300 people each week take part in their year round programme of workshops, events and exhibitions  which are held at their centre  at 103 Trongate Glasgow G1 5HD.

I was delighted to collect two paintings purchased from the project.

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Dressing Down for Nepal

At Mitchells Roberton we have a dress down day once a month for a good cause. This month a colleague suggested an additional special dress down day for the Disaster in Nepal.

I was particularly drawn to this cause because I was lucky enough to visit Nepal during my trip around the world in 2010. It remains one of my favourite places . I visited both Kathmandu and Pokhara, where much of the destruction occurred. Kathmandu and its surrounding areas were full of beautiful temples, abundant with colour. Pokhara was enclosed by stunning  lakes and mountains. However, the primary reason that I loved the country so much was its friendly and warm people.

One example is when we were on a trek across the mountains and stayed in a small bed and breakfast. We were the only guests and in the evening the owners gave an impromptu demonstration of their traditional song and dance, even managing to persuade our trekking guide to join in the fun. We were then encouraged to show our own traditional dancing which involved us trying to give a very poor rendition of the Gay Gordons – much to the amusement of our hosts! As we carried on our trek each person we met gave a traditional greeting of ‘Namaste’, with the palms of their hands held together, their head bowed, smiling.

I was very pleased that our firm raised a total of £250 which will go to the DEC Nepal Appeal. A couple of my friends were in Pokhara at the time of the earthquake.  Thankfully they were in a hotel designed to withstand a large earthquake. Again my view of the people of Nepal was reinforced. The owners of the hotel’s first priority was their guests’ safety and then they took in others who had lost their home in the disaster. Hopefully the funds raised here and elsewhere will help the people of Nepal get back on their feet.

For more information and to donate to the Nepal Earthquake Appeal, please visit http://www.redcross.org.uk/nepalhero

Our Continuing Support for Mary’s Meals

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I posted a blog way back on 9th July 2014 about our firm’s support of Mary’s Meals. Since the beginning of 2011 until July 2014 Mitchells Roberton has donated 450 filled backpacks to be gifted to children receiving Mary’s Meals. Mary’s Meals is a registered charity that sets up school feeding projects in some of the world’s poorest communities. It is a simple idea-by providing a daily meal in a place of education chronically poor children are attracted to the classroom where they can gain a basic education that provides an escape route from poverty. Since July 2014 Mitchells Roberton has donated a further 145 backpacks each filled with a notebook, pencils, coloured pencils, a rubber and a pencil case. We also put in every pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a towel, a new outfit, sandals, a ball and a spoon. All of this is funded from staff  and client donations. Margaret Ritchie our receptionist who organises this project says “ It is a wonderful charity which Mitchells Roberton will continue to support.” To find our more about this wonderful cause, please follow this link: http://www.marysmeals.org.uk/what-you-can-do/backpack-project/

Mitchells Roberton Solicitors Support Mary’s Meals

Mary's Meals Backpacks

Mary’s Meals is a registered charity that sets up school feeding projects in some of the world’s poorest communities. It is a simple idea – by providing a daily meal in a place of education, chronically poor children are attracted to the classroom where they can gain a basic education that provides an escape route from poverty.

Mary’s Meals was founded in 2002 and has grown from its first feeding operation of 200 children in Malawi to a world-wide campaign providing free school meals in hundreds of schools and feeding over 860,000 children daily.

One of the charity’s high profile projects is the Backpack Project and it is this project that the staff of Mitchells Roberton supports. With staff donations we purchase backpacks and fill each one with a notebook, pencils, coloured pencils, a rubber, a pencil sharpener, a ruler and a pencil case. We also put into each pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and a towel.  Additionally a new outfit, sandals, a ball and a spoon are included.

Margaret Ritchie, our receptionist organises the firm’s efforts. She says “I believe that a backpack may often be the first gift received by a child attending one of Mary’s Meals schools. We all hope that the bag will help to make a practical difference to the child receiving it. It’s a lovely project to be involved in and we will continue to contribute as best we can.”

Since the beginning of 2011 Mitchells Roberton has donated 450 filled backpacks to be gifted to children receiving Mary’s Meals.

Caurnie Cats

Caurnie Soap

A conversation between myself and Fiona Fleming,  one of my colleagues,  about my  love of all things  feline  resulted in a table in our office kitchen being set up to display a wonderful array of hand-made soaps from The Caurnie Soaperie in Kirkintilloch. The soaps have proven to be a great success with colleagues, who have placed hefty orders. The Soaperie – first opened in 1922 – makes fine soaps from locally sourced ingredients, and by using ethical processing methods produces soaps for both clear skin and a clear conscience. There is a vast selection to choose from including geranium & orange, lime & thyme, bog myrtle, patchouli, peppermint & sage, spearmint, and heather & lavender to name but a few. Shampoos, conditioners and moisturisers are also manufactured and the Soaperie’s Nettle range has been highly praised for its effective treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. All items are long lasting and reasonably priced. But where is the connection between the sale of soap and my adoration of cats? I was delighted to hear from Fiona that she is involved in selling  soaps for Caurnie Soaperie at the Cats’ Protection annual Open Day at their Kirkintilloch Shelter  but I was even more enchanted when I discovered that one half of the proceeds of her sales is donated  to  Cats’ Protection. Purrfect.

Incorporation of Coopers Dinner Dance

The Annual Dinner Dance of The Incorporation of Coopers in Glasgow was held on Friday the 1 March 2013 in the Trades Hall. Sheila Carter one of our Legal Secretaries attended the dinner with Alastair Campbell, Head of our Private Client Department and presently Clerk to the Incorporation. Alastair, who has been Clerk since 1999, will be retiring from office this September. Our firm has had, so far, 162 years of close involvement with the Coopers. The original connection was with the Trades House and not with the barrel making trade. Clerks previously had to be lawyers and our firm became involved with the Coopers that way. The Incorporation of Coopers is one of 14 Incorporations which form the Trades House of Glasgow. The Craft of the Coopers can be shown to date way back in time to the Ancient Egyptians. In 1569 the Coopers were granted their Letter of Deaconhood and so began the Incorporation of Coopers of Glasgow. Over past centuries the Incorporation played an important role in the trading life of Glasgow but in present times the Incorporation concentrates on charitable functions. 198 members and guests were welcomed to the Annual Dinner Dance this month including “Coopers” from London, Irvine and Aberdeen. An excellent evening was had by all in wonderful surroundings with good food, sophisticated speakers and the music of “Dave Cormack”. The event raised £2,000 for the Quarriers Epilepsy Centre in Govan, a very worthy cause.

Quarriers’ website says of the centre “When it opens in spring 2013, the new epilepsy centre will be the only centre of its kind in Scotland – and one of the most advanced in the world – with state-of-the-art equipment offering assessment and diagnosis for people with complex forms of epilepsy as well as diagnosis of the condition where it is uncertain.”