Staff at North East law firm Hay & Kilner have marked the practice’s 75th anniversary by raising more than one hundred times that number for a regional suicide prevention and education charity.
The Newcastle-headquartered firm originally adopted the If U Care Share Foundation as its dedicated charity for 2020 and then extended the relationship through 2021 in response to a huge increase in demand for its services during the pandemic, which included a 275% increase in the number of calls it was receiving during the first lockdown.
After carrying out a wide range of individual and team-based fundraising activities, Hay & Kilner has now presented If U Care Share with a £7,689.35 donation, which will go towards meeting the cost of providing the various services that it offers.
Regular fundraising activities have included hamper raffles, quizzes and sweepstakes on major sporting events, while legal secretary Elaine White led a team of family and friends around the Great North Run course.
Fourteen members of the team took part in an Everest challenge, which saw each of them covering the equivalent of the distance from the foothills of the Himalaya up to Everest base camp on the world’s highest mountain, while 12 others completed a separate ‘75 miles for 75 years’ distance event.
The If U Care Share Foundation work to promote emotional well-being in young people and supports families affected by suicide right across the region.
Based in Chester-le-Street, it was set up by Shirley Smith and her husband Dean following the death of their 19-year-old son Daniel, and focuses on prevention, intervention and support of those bereaved by suicide.
It currently takes around 21,000 calls to its helpline every year and has a 30-strong team delivering its service, with around 15 volunteers backing them up.
Its services are provided free at the point of contact, with the charity needing to bring in around £600,000 every year to meet its running costs.
Matthew Smith, Chief Operating Officer at The If U Care Share Foundation, says: “Even before the pandemic, demand for our help and support was growing steadily, but we saw a huge spike in spring last year and we’ve remained consistently busy ever since.
“We’ve brought more people on board to help deliver our services, and have tried to adapt what we offer according to the regulations that have been in place at different points of the pandemic.
“Every person or family we work with that has been affected by suicide needs their own individual package of help, which could include practical, financial or emotional support, and the work we do aims to meet all these very varied needs as far as we possibly can.
“We’re very much reliant on securing funding from outside sources to help us keep up with our running costs, and are very grateful for the generous contribution that the Hay & Kilner team has made to our cause.
“Their advocacy on our behalf is also helping us build new relationships within the region’s professional community which might otherwise have been out of reach for us.”
Founded in 1946, Hay & Kilner is one of North East England’s leading independent law firms and provides comprehensive legal advice across every aspect of the law to businesses and individuals from both within and outside the region.
Jonathan Waters, managing partner at Hay & Kilner, adds: “The work done by the Foundation team has never been more important than it has been over the last two years and it’s an honour for us to be able to support what they’re doing.
“Our whole team has pitched in to raise as much money as possible and being able to give the Foundation such a terrific sum is a great way to mark the end of our 75th anniversary year.”