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Womble Bond Dickinson accelerates COVID-19 relief effort in Plymouth

WBD

The Plymouth office at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has pledged its support to a number of organisations working in the community to tackle the impact of the pandemic, including foodbanks, homeless charities and schools.

This follows WBD’s fundraising and volunteering efforts last year as part of its COVID-19 emergency response which saw thousands of pounds donated to a wide range of charities around Plymouth.

The firm has continued its support for organisations working to tackle food poverty, with donations to the Plymouth Foodbank. The initiative is part of a firm wide effort to fight against hunger in the community, with the firm donating £30,000 to UK foodbanks and other food charities in 2020.

Some of the donations were made up of personal contributions from WBD staff with the total amount raised matched by WBD’s Charitable Incorporated Trust which manages funds aimed at supporting the firm’s responsible business activity.

WBD has a long track record of supporting foodbanks and, in recent years, donated well over six tonnes of much needed food and drinks through the WBD National Foodbank Appeal, an initiative set up by the firm to support UK foodbanks particularly during the winter and summer holidays. The firm has accelerated its support since the start of the pandemic last March.

Staff from the office also supported the Plymouth Pie Club throughout the pandemic, buying and delivering groceries to the most vulnerable in the community. Plymouth Pie Club is a local volunteer group set up in partnership with Age UK and Eldertree to support the elderly and the vulnerable. 

The firm also worked with local schools including St Peter’s School and Torbridge High by donating a number of laptops to support those pupils home-schooling who have no access to technology. School laptop donations were made across all WBD offices as part of a firm-wide initiative.

Clare Elliott, head of responsible business at WBD’s Plymouth office, commented: “We pride ourselves on being a good neighbour and, as a successful business, we recognise we have an important role to play in supporting our local communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented hardship to so many and it was important for us to step up and join forces with the many organisations working tirelessly in the community.

“We’ve witnessed some remarkable examples of what can be achieved when people work together and the community-wide response to the pandemic has been admirable in what was a very difficult 2020.”

Mrs C Prynn, headteacher at St Peter’s School in Plymouth, added: “We’re so grateful to WBD for the laptops that were donated and these have already been allocated out to families who have not had the ability to support their children with home schooling during lockdown.

“We have a high level of disadvantaged children in our area who are very much at risk of falling behind in their learning.

“Access to effective devices to support their learning is going to have a positive impact not only on their learning but also their emotional resilience at home and when they eventually return to school.”

The firm also rolled out a number of initiatives to support staff and clients trying to balance home working with home schooling and/or childcare. How to Manage Working with Kids at Home webinars were organised with speaker Rachel Vecht from Educating Matters providing practical tips and strategies to empower parents and carers.

WBD is heavily involved in a comprehensive responsible business programme and last year, in the midst of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team in Plymouth made a significant donation to Shekinah, a charity that provides opportunities for people in recovery or seeking recovery from homelessness, drug and alcohol issues, offending behaviours or mental health disorders.

Funds were also donated to the Plymouth Domestic Abuse Services, which supports anyone experiencing or affected by domestic violence. The donation came at a time when there was a huge surge in domestic abuse calls brought by the impact of national and regional lockdowns.