A&O has been recognised once again this year for its commitment to social mobility through its flagship Smart Start programme at the UK Social Mobility Awards 2017 – taking home ‘Community Programme of the Year’.
We launched Smart Start in 2009 to provide high-quality work experience to young people from non-privileged backgrounds.
Our aim has always been to find students who are bright and ambitious but who, because of their backgrounds, may not consider a career in law or business an option for them – or who don’t know how to take the first steps on that career path.
Since then, we have supported 1,200 students, all of whom will be the first generation in their family to go to university and / or are eligible for free school meals.
The UK Social Mobility Awards celebrate and recognise forward-thinking organisations that are developing initiatives to promote social mobility, within its own workforce, or by influencing the debate from beyond its own walls.
Co-head of Corporate Responsibility Mark Mansell said, “Smart Start is delivered each year by volunteers from A&O and our clients – in 2017, more than 300 people were involved. The programme’s success is a real team effort, so it is great to be recognised once again for the impact it has on the young people who take part.”
The programme receives overwhelmingly positive feedback from our students. Each year, over 90% tell us they feel more confident and ambitious about their future as a result of their time at A&O, and 100% tell us they would recommend this opportunity to others.
One participant told us, “Smart Start means that it no longer matters where you come from, or what your background is like. All that matters is what you do in life – your passion, your skills. With that you can go anywhere.”
In 2016, we launched Smart Start International in South Africa and India, working with local partners to help many more young people overcome obstacles and build their future careers. The programme in India won an IDIA Partners 2017 award this September.
About the UK Social Mobility Awards:
The UK Social Mobility Awards recognise & celebrate the achievements of businesses and organisations across the country in their work of advancing social mobility.
The awards have a grand ambition that social mobility becomes embedded within business and organisational procedures, so that we finally make leaps forward in ensuring that every child in the country has a chance to succeed, no matter the income of their parents.