3. CSR-Diversity Initiative of the Year-Article-201612071309

(L-R): Awards host David Mitchell, Travers Smith’s Donald Lowe and Chris Edwards; Legal Week’s Anna Ward

Finalists: Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Gowling WLG (highly commended), Roche UK & Byfield Consultancy, Shearman & Sterling, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Ropes & Gray, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, Reed Smith, Winckworth Sherwood

Travers Smith, the winner in this category, supports Refugees at Home, a small UK-based charity that identifies people who are prepared to put up asylum seekers and refugees in their spare rooms. “This is a novel concept, delivering tangible results for people in desperate need of support,” said one judge.

The project started after a group of individuals approached the firm with an idea around connecting those with a spare room in their home with asylum seekers and refugees in need of accommodation.

The law firm helped the group set up a charity to pursue this goal and assisted from the start with the structuring and expansion of its charitable activities

A team of lawyers, which includes partners, associates, consultants and trainees, has advised the charity on issues such as setting up its charitable structure, drafting policies, forms and other documents, assisting with webpages and communications and hosting and attending board meetings.

Former Solicitors Regulation Authority board member and Judicial Appointments Commission member Sara Nathan OBE, who helped found the charity, said: “I don’t know how Refugees At Home could ever have got started and flourished so quickly without the superb, pro bono help from the team at Travers Smith.”

The charity has now made almost 50 placements of refugees with host families.

Nathan added: “We don’t think any member of the Law Society could have done more to ensure we function effectively, safely and legally, and we commend them to you as worthy recipients of your pro bono awards.”