YOUNGSTERS in Sunderland can get out into the countryside on their bikes, thanks to a milestone donation from commercial law firm Muckle LLP. The firm has donated £4,000 to the Sunderland-based Blue Watch Youth Centre towards the cost of converting a minibus for young people with disabilities – part of the firm’s latest round of donations – which bring Muckle LLP’s charitable giving to over £250,000 in the last five years.
The centre in Ryhope hosts a range of activities for young people, including cycling for about 35 disabled youngsters.
Tony Semley of Blue Watch said: “We were delighted to receive the contribution from Muckle LLP and have already had a lot of use out of the minibus.
“It has opened up a whole new world for our young people, particularly the special needs group, who can now load their wheelchairs on to the minibus. Previously we had to book a minibus in advance before projects and activities had been thought of, never mind planned and organised.
“The newly converted minibus has made such a difference to the project and we can now open up the cycling programme to other special needs groups.”
Muckle LLP’s donation was made via its charitable fund. Set up five years ago, the fund is administered by the Community Foundation serving Tyne and Wear and Northumberland. The Muckle LLP Community Committee makes the decision on which causes should benefit. The Committee is chaired by property solicitor Steve Frake, and includes six people from across the firm who meet quarterly to distribute funds on behalf of the firm.
Over the five years, the firm’s partners have donated a total of £250,000 to the fund. These donations have been distributed to more than 110 local causes ranging from the RVI Childrens’ Diabetic Fund to the Chopwell Tea Dance.
Community Foundation chief executive George Hepburn said: “The great thing about Muckle LLP is that they have made a long term commitment to their charitable giving. They have involved their people at all levels of the organisation, who have always been keen to learn and play their part in the community.”
In addition to direct monetary grants, Muckle LLP also provides charities and good causes with unpaid legal advice and assistance under its pro bono scheme. In the past four years, this has provided more than 75 causes with more than £300,000 worth of unpaid legal advice. Beneficiaries have included organisations ranging from the Council for Advancement of Communications with Deaf People to Swalwell Junior Football Club.
Muckle LLP’s Community Committee provides the focus for all of Muckle’s corporate social responsibility activities and ensures the involvement of people from across the firm. It produces newsletters to inform everyone in the firm of what is going on and to create a feeling of involvement. The committee is also involved in firm wide activities such as work at Shepherds Dene, a retreat house in Riding Mill. Muckle LLP staff also gave up their time over two weekends to help work in the grounds to prepare them for the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the gift of the house to the charitable trust.
Earlier this year the firm won the Best Arts and Business Partnership Award at The Journal’s Culture Awards for its partnership with The Sage Gateshead. This follows the firm’s success in 2005 when it won the North-East Service Sector in the Community Award organised by the North-East Chamber of Commerce and in 2003, Muckle LLP won the Business in the Community Award in The Journal’s North-East Business Awards.
Muckle LLP senior partner Hugh Welch said: “As a firm we have a long-established commitment to supporting deserving causes throughout the region. It is very much a part of the firm’s philosophy to support the community in which we operate. We do this through our Community Foundation fund, through our pro bono scheme and through actively encouraging our people to involve themselves with community organisations as directors, trustees, members, mentors or volunteers. All of this benefits the charities and causes concerned, the individuals involved and Muckle LLP as a firm.”