To help to improve lives, through charitable donations, physical time spent working on projects including volunteering and undertaking trusteeships, and through pro-bono legal work.
We have chosen two fundamental themes that help influence our choices when it comes to supporting charitable organisations:
This covers all sorts of areas of support – opportunity for all, food poverty, sport or social isolation for instance – but all structured around our core focus.
Our charitable giving is managed through a generous annual budget provided by the firm, with specific donations decided by our Responsible Business Board, which comprises representatives from across the whole firm.
We support a range of initiatives. Some are long term, like our sponsorship of three Greggs Breakfast Clubs in schools across the North to ensure all children can start the day with a nutritious meal. Others are one-offs, like supporting a project to provide walking shoes for school children to encourage exploring the great outdoors.
In addition to this, the Ward Hadaway Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland makes grants to grassroots charities and voluntary organisations across the region.
The firm’s social committee also raise additional funds from initiatives such as the Legal Walks and Cake Bakes. Both of these focus on supporting access to justice for those who cannot otherwise afford legal representation.
Where possible we measure the impact of our investments to ensure a demonstrable social value is delivered through these activities, which in turn helps us with good decision making going forwards. We also collaborate with clients to help them help others too, whether via panels, frameworks or projects.
To focus on two core themes: health and wellbeing, and young people
To donate at least £45,000 by way of cash donations to charitable causes during the financial year 2022/23.
To ensure our support reaches across all the regions of our three offices.
To give each person one day per year paid volunteering time, equivalent to a contribution of £125,000 per annum.
To deliver pro bono legal work worth £125,000 each financial year.
We encourage our people to dedicate time to charitable causes, and are providing a ‘volunteer day’ for everyone. This is a paid day’s leave to support a charity of their choice. Whilst we recognise that time is often the most valuable commodity for these charities, it also equates to a contribution of £125,000.
Pro-bono legal work is a regular part of our ‘giving back’, to ensure that we can apply our legal skills for causes who need it most but can’t afford it. In the last five years, we have provided over £1m worth of legal work on a pro bono basis.
Supporting our people to become trustees, directors and advocates at charities and community interest companies, or to be governors of schools, colleges and universities is of real import to us so we’re extremely flexible in the time commitment which this involves. Over 50 bodies are supported by our people as trustees, governors, CIC directors and public body board members.
We have been closely involved with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Fund for over 15 years, since we started investing in our own endowment fund as well as making other donations and supporting initiatives. Personally, I also had the privilege of being the fund’s Vice Chairman from 2011–2013.
A Community Foundation is a fantastic way for businesses and individuals to make grants to charitable organisations based within their communities. The organisation sits at the heart of an incredibly diverse and populous network of charities, most of them very small. The fund provides them with funding, support and mentoring, to help them fulfil their objectives and get investment into the real heart of a community where it has the most impact. As well as working with Tyne and Wear and Northumberland we work with the Leeds Community Foundation too.
We inform the Community Foundation of our particular areas of emphasis to help them when choosing where to award donations from our endowment. For instance, health and wellbeing and youth initiatives are our two core focus areas which we ask them to consider. However, unusually for a regional community fund, we have asked for our fund to be invested not just in the North East, but in charities across the whole North aligned to our offices in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.
We take the time to remain wholly engaged in the process of selecting charities to receive support from our fund and seeing the impact it has on those charities, but we are at arm’s length and therefore avoid the potential of introducing any unconscious bias or vested interest.
In excess of 25 charities have been supported from the fund over the past fifteen years – it is incredibly rewarding to reflect on the impact this will have had on people’s lives, something which as senior partner
I have long believed is our corporate and social duty.
We have also supported the Giving Network, a scheme for like-minded professionals to come together, pool their giving, learn about vital issues in communities and choose causes to support. The scheme encouraged not just financial donations, but gifts of time as the members were invited to presentations from various charities to decide where to direct their donations. Seeing some of those charities come together with the members was such a positive process, each learning from the experience. It also got talented, young people engaged with charities who needed their help and support in the long term, and will I am sure lead to trustees and advocates of the future
For a few years now I have been the lead within the Leeds office on charitable activities, sitting on what was the firm’s CSR committee.
I am really proud of the dynamism shown by the team here over the years. They have a real “roll up your sleeves” approach, with so many people getting involved, and really throwing in their all.
We have taken part in the Great Legal Bake for the last few years, and in the last one we took part in we persuaded not just one, but two previous participants of the Great British Bake Off to come and judge our efforts.
We have held a number of very successful Macmillan Coffee Mornings. I was even involved with my colleague Helen Boyle in doing one virtually during lockdown.
We have done a few brilliant “fuddles” (I didn’t know either! A Derbyshire or Yorkshire term defined as “a party or picnic where attendees bring food and wine; a kind of potluck”). The one that sticks in my mind is the World Cup series we did a few years ago, where teams would be allocated a football playing country to support, and would have to prepare a lunch themed on the food of that region. The team from England was judged the winner, not emulated on the pitch unfortunately! The quality of food was quite surprisingly good in some cases (less so in others!), but everyone really got behind the efforts, dressing up in regional attire, and serving colleagues their home made delights! We managed to raise a total of £2,000 with the winning team choosing to donate the amount raised to Older Wiser Local Seniors (OWLS), a charity which supports older people across Yorkshire.
The pandemic has obviously made such gatherings extremely difficult, and so pushed us to the kind of virtual events described previously. In spring last year the real estate team (which I am a member of) took part in the Tour de Walkshire, where we collectively had to walk the equivalent of the perimeter of Yorkshire, raising money for the Yorkshire Cancer Trust. It was great to get outside, albeit not together because of the restrictions, but we were all still following each other on social media to keep us all going and achieve our target.
A good deal of money has been raised by these various initiatives for some extremely well-deserving charities, but an enormous amount of fun and positivity has been had along the way too. I am delighted to be back in the office, so we can get the wind behind the sails of these initiatives once again.
Environmental damage is one of the greatest challenges the world faces. And as a founding member of the Legal Sustainability Alliance and accredited to ISO14001, we are keen to play our part.
Our people are our most important asset. We have spent many years building a business and a team to be extremely proud of.