In response to the pandemic, we launched our #stayconnected campaign. The firm’s CSR programme uses the skills and time of our people – solicitors and business services – to support disadvantaged communities through the provision of practical help and financial support. We continue to deliver our regular programmes, where possible, in a virtual capacity. For example, we are delivering e-mentoring to secondary school students across three schools in the Newham borough via zoom. However, in addition, everyone’s “community day” allocation is now extended so that all staff can take an unlimited amount of time to volunteer to support their local communities. Volunteers have been supporting local aid groups, sending letters to vulnerable individuals who have been shielding, offering career advice to disadvantaged students and providing legal pro bono to charities.
Supporting key workers
Approximately 2000 sheets of Macfarlanes acetate have been turned into face shields and donated to the NHS and other frontline workers. The firm donated the plastic sheets to biomedical device company Augment Bionics. The company have used these sheets, along with donations received from several other law firms, to provide more than 29,000 face shields to frontline workers at over 40 hospitals and GP surgeries across the UK.
Each year the firm buys more than 750 Easter eggs for its people. During the lockdown, we donated all of these eggs to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to be distributed amongst staff and patients. The hospital is incredibly busy, with children being transferred from other hospitals across London as those hospitals created dedicated Covid wards.
Fundraising for our Charity of the Year, New Horizon Youth Centre
Charities are experiencing significant drops in income as some of their largest fundraising events have been postponed or cancelled due to Covid-19. Our charity of the year, New Horizon Youth Centre, is no exception; and this is at a time when the risk of homelessness is greater than ever. We are fundraising to contribute to New Horizon’s emergency fund, which is being used to support young people, particularly those who sofa surf, who find themselves with no accommodation at this difficult time. We are redoubling our efforts to host virtual bake-offs, bingo events, quizzes and fitness challenges. Additionally, we are encouraging employees to donate the money they are saving on their commute or daily coffees and we have reached 84% of our target for this initiative already.
Our in-house coffee bar typically generates £2,000 a month for our charity of the year, as 50p of every hot drink sale is donated. Even though we are working from home, the firm continues to donate this amount to bridge the gap in funds and to ensure that New Horizon Youth Centre can continue to reach as many young homeless people as possible.
We know that these are testing times for our people, whether that be challenges with mental wellbeing, difficulty adjusting to new working patterns, caring for sick relatives or balancing childcare with work commitments. We have introduced a number of initiatives in order to support our people:
- We have created an online hub to bring together a range of materials for employees to access, including wellbeing resources, tips for home working and useful information for parents and carers.
- We have introduced a site where employees can share lockdown stories, activities, socials and stay posted.
- We have hosted a series of wellbeing webinars delivered by external providers to share top tips on how to get a good night’s sleep and look after mental health. All of these webinars were recorded and have been posted on the online hub so that all staff can access them.
- As in previous years, we recently marked Mental Health Awareness Week with a series of activities. These included creating a video featuring 12 employees talking about 12 top tips for maintaining good mental health and a lunchtime seminar, delivered by Dr Kamel Hothi OBE. In the seminar, Dr Kamel Hothi shared her battle with mental health and the strength she needed to stitch her personal and working lives together.