The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will hit those from less-advantaged backgrounds the hardest, making it more important than ever to support the work of the Lawscot Foundation, explains our Head of Careers & Outreach Heather McKendrick.
Let’s be honest – at the best of times, there are endless charities, good causes and campaigns to support. And right now, there are perhaps even more, including our NHS heroes. Why then should you prioritise donating to the Lawscot Foundation during this time? It’s not an immediate concern, surely?
The answer is, at this moment, we need your help more than ever.
We are a small charity, set up to provide financial and mentoring support to young people from the least advantaged backgrounds who wish to study law. Covid-19 will have a hugely detrimental effect on many young people and, as is often the way, will hit hardest the people from the least advantaged backgrounds.
The students we support are incredible – many from very low-income backgrounds, some were young carers, others have been through the care system themselves or been homeless during school. They have worked hard – incredibly hard - to get to the point of securing a place on the LLB. For many, this offer itself is life changing. Even during school they are competing for places at university with peers that enjoy many more benefits: access to tutors; better technology; faster wifi; their own bedroom and desk; perhaps focusing solely on exams, rather than also undertaking a part-time job.
Once at university, the same uneven playing field continues, but now with the likely impact of Covid-19 causing additional concerns. For many, without having a part-time job during term time or over the summer, supporting themselves financially during university is not an option. In terms of career prospects, volunteering or unpaid internships is simply not viable for some students, so again, they find themselves in a position of disadvantage against their classmates when looking for employment.
Yes, Scottish universities don’t have fees – but Scotland is also the worst performing jurisdiction in the UK for sending students from the least advantaged backgrounds to higher education. Fees are not the issue many think they are. It’s access to funding to support themselves during their studies that matter. It’s access to network and opportunities that will make a difference when looking for traineeships.
The great news? You can make a difference!
I don’t want our charity to deflect donations away from any other important cause. That’s why I am asking those who are in a position to, to think about a regular cost that you are not spending at the moment - can you afford to donate it? It might be your commute or weekly lunches out. I normally take the bus to work three times a week - £3.60 x 3 = £10.80 per week, so that’s what I will donate.
Or you can get involved in the 2.6 Challenge, which has been set up to help UK charities after the postponement of the London Marathon that was due to take place on 26 April. My sister ran the London Marathon last year for the Lawscot Foundation and her contribution has funded one of our amazing students for a year.
The 2.6 Challenge is open to anyone, of any age and is simple to take part in. All you have to do is dream up an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 and fundraise or donate to support us. The activity can be anything you like – juggling for 26 seconds, doing 26 star jumps, singing for 26 minutes, or how about “commuting” to your home working station with a 2.6 mile walk, run or cycle? Be as creative as you like! The only requirement is that you must follow Government guidelines on exercise and social distancing, and remember to stay local.
I’m delighted that 100% of the donation will go straight to students who need it the most. Let’s be a profession who work together, look after each other and look after our future. Not only is it a good thing to do, it’s a shrewd thing to do – these students are the lawyers of the future and they are exactly the people we want in our profession – determined, hard working, bright and talented. This is the time to help them.
We are, as ever, hugely indebted to our regular donors and partners:
Registered Scottish charity number SCO46547
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation