An evening with Cherie Blair raises £25,000 for Norwood

10 September 2015

Billed as colourful and tenacious, Cherie Blair CBE, QC certainly didn’t disappoint at Norwood’s YN Lawyers Reception last night, speaking out on controversial topics including the Human Rights Act, legal aid cuts and quotas for women on company boards.

The evening raised over £25,000 for Norwood, which supports vulnerable children and their families, children with special educational needs and adults with learning disabilities. Cherie Blair is the charity’s Patron of Children’s Services. More than 180 people attended the event, which was hosted by Investec. The interview sponsor was Withers Worldwide.

Sharing the stage with journalist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer, Cherie Blair held the audience captivated with stories from her long career in human rights. She argued that the 1970s expansion of legal aid led to a burst of innovation in employment, discrimination and disability law. She went on to warn that cuts to the scheme could put off young lawyers from poorer backgrounds from choosing human rights, leading to a worrying lack of diversity within the profession.

Defending the much-maligned Human Rights Act, Cherie Blair explained that its introduction in 1998 paved the way for people with disabilities to challenge government funding decisions that threatened their right to a dignified, independent life.

The evening concluded with a lively Q&A session. Cherie Blair fielded questions on childcare, long parliamentary working hours and work-life balance, quotas for women on company boards and fair division of labour in the home.

Speaking after the event Cherie Blair said: "I’ve seen for myself the incredible work Norwood do for young children with additional needs, and I’ve seen the transforming effect that this has, not just on the children themselves but their families as well.

"The YN group here really shows that lawyers are committed to changing the world and to helping charities like Norwood make a real difference, as well as bringing dignity to the lives of vulnerable people."

Deborah Margolis, YN Lawyers Committee Co Chair said: "Tonight was a really interesting evening, with a fascinating speaker. I am delighted that we raised such an incredible amount of money for such a worthwhile cause."

The appeal speech was delivered by Talia Aziz, who has a learning disability and benefited from the charity’s educational support services. She graduated last year with a qualifications in Functional Skills maths and English and is a keen artist. She said: "Because of Norwood I feel like I can make my dreams comes true."

Photos by Sharon Green Photographic