04 October 2016

With us magazine: Withers working in the community


Amber Melville-Brown
Partner | US

Fundraising around the world

All around the world, Withers’ staff and partners have been actively raising funds for a number of charities and worthwhile causes. In total, we raised more than £45,000 in 2015/16 for two charities voted as the firm’s US and UK Charities of the Year.

US – Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

In the US, partners, lawyers and staff voted first for the type of charitable cause they most wanted to support – children’s issues – and then submitted nominations for charities working in this area. Presentations were made by various charities and ultimately, the charity selected was The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

This organisation provides seriously ill children with the opportunity to spend time relaxing and engaging in sports and group activities at a camp in Ashford, Connecticut, at no cost to their family. The charity was established by actor Paul Newman in 1988, and is loosely themed around the movie in which he starred, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The US team arranged for donations of arts and craft supplies, and raised more than $25,000 in the course of the year through raffles, a casino night and pub quiz and the annual ‘Angel Ride’ across Connecticut in May 2015. One Withers staff member now works in Hole in the Wall’s development team, and New Haven based partner Paul Roy has organised teams to participate in the sponsored ‘Angel Ride’ cycle race for a number of years.

UK – The Back-Up Trust

The charity of the year chosen by the UK was The Back-Up Trust, which supports people with spinal cord injuries and their families. Back-Up was founded in 1986 and provides mentoring, wheelchair skills training and activity courses, as well as support for individuals in other areas of their life, including to get back to work or school. The charity was put forward by Nicole Scott, a legal secretary in our Wealth Planning team, whose husband Tim has benefitted from Back-Up’s assistance.

Through regular raffles, sales and collections, the London office raised nearly £31,000, which was 50 percent higher than the original fundraising target for the year. Some more unusual fundraising challenges saw Corporate Social Responsibility partner Amber Melville-Brown spend a sponsored 48-hour period in a wheelchair, including during her commute to work and meetings, and a team of enthusiastic pushers and pullers helped Tim Scott, in a specially adapted ‘off-road’ wheelchair, climb Snowdon, which is one of the UK’s highest mountains. Legal secretary Pat Tidy cycled from coast to coast across the north of England last summer to raise money and Filippo Noseda, co-head of the Wealth Planning team, braved an ice bucket challenge (and the staresof passers-by!), as he removed his suit and faced the iced water.

Hong Kong – Giving Tree, Crossroads Foundation and the Boys’ and Girls’ Club Association of Hong Kong

Our team in Hong Kong benefited several charities during 2015. The office donated to Giving Tree, Crossroads Foundation and the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong. Giving Tree collects Christmas presents for children in orphanages and small group homes, and the team donated generously to help them with this. Crossroads Foundation distributes household products around the world and the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs Association raises funds for the education of underprivileged children. The team donated books, clothes and appliances
to both of these charities.

Withers has also contributed to the work of Hope4Malawi, a charity that runs education, food and hygiene programmes amongst rural communities in Malawi and support for which is spearheaded by the firm’s international marketing director, Nigel Sprunt.

More than £30,000 has been raised enabling the charity to open a new kitchen at Chipeptwete School in the south of the country. Through the provision of feeding programmes at its schools, Hope4Malawi aims to encourage regular school attendance amongst a large catchment area of young children.

Pro bono advice and community work

Our teams in the US and UK continue to provide pro bono advice through organisations such as Pro Bono Partnership, Volunteers of Legal Service and LawWorks. The US hit a new record of logging around $360,000 of pro bono advice in the financial year to date, with advice given to recipients including the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.

The Family law team in London provides free advice at the Citizens Advice Bureau at the Central Family Court, as well as volunteering at a free legal advice centre in South London. The London Charities & Philanthropy team continues to provide regular pro bono advice to a number of small charities with whom the firm works.

Non-legal staff in the London office also participated in the firm’s ‘With… Opportunity’ programme. Over the past year 20 members of staff worked with unemployed women, many of whom speak English as a second language, to help improve their professional skills, increase their confidence in work environments and provide ongoing mentoring support. The scheme was recommended for its achievements as a ‘best practice’ programme in the Lord Mayor of London’s recent charity guide.

We raised more than £45,000 in 2015/16

Amber Melville-Brown Partner | London

Category: Feature