Our Roundup Of Responsible Business News
Our purpose as a business: ‘Together, we’ll navigate life’s ups and downs’ is more relevant than ever as people across the world are united in their fight against the coronavirus. Teams across the business have been working hard to adapt to new ways of working so we can continuing delivering our normal service to clients, while supporting each other and our communities.
We’ve collated some of the heart-warming stories and useful resources from across our business and are sharing them to help inspire and encourage kindness, inclusion and unity during these uncertain times.
Supporting Our Communities
Community groups, good causes and our wonderful NHS are “rallying the troops” to help fight coronavirus. They’re enlisting an army of volunteers to help vulnerable people stay safe and well while isolated at home.
Our business, like many others provides colleagues with a volunteering allowance so we’ve collated a list of ways for employees to get involved, should they want and feel able to.
If you decide to sign up for any volunteering please make sure you’ve read the Government guidelines on how to help safely and are complying with the most up to date advice on restriction of movement, hygiene and social distancing.
The NHS has now paused recruitment for volunteers so they can process the 750,000 applications they received to help up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.
NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:
- Delivering medicines from pharmacies
- Driving patients to appointments
- Bringing them home from hospital
- Or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.
The NHS has seen a 15% decrease in blood donation over the past month due to the coronavirus. Under current guidance (25/3/2020) you can still leave your home to donate blood.
Fighting food poverty
Food poverty has been made worse by the outbreak of coronavirus and many foodbanks have lost volunteers who are self-isolating. If you are not in an at-risk group you may be able to volunteer as it is currently classed as ‘key work’ and you can sign up here.
You can keep donating food as well but check with your local food bank first to see what they are in need of as it will vary from day to day, and the best way to get food to them in line with social distancing and restriction of movement. The easiest way to do this during the lockdown is to leave items in a foodbank collection basket near the checkouts when a member of your household does your food shopping. Government advice is to keep your shopping trips to a minimum and shop online where possible.
If you are self-isolating and still want to help, you can donate directly.
Get your business involved
As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on towns and cities across the UK intensifies, the need to link business support to community needs in the right place, at the right time and at the right scale has never been more urgent. If you think your business might be able to support good causes or community groups take a look at and consider getting in touch with Business in the Community’s newly launched National Business Response Network.
We wanted to highlight these schemes because giving back to our communities is a key part of our DNA. In addition we want to reinforce that the wellbeing and safety of you and your families is of the upmost importance at this time, so if you do choose to get involved please do stay safe. Please remember to check and follow all of the latest guidelines around social distancing, handwashing, hygiene and restriction of movement.
Supporting Our Colleagues
Times of uncertainty, dramatic change and isolation can trigger anxiety, stress and make existing mental health conditions worse. As a responsible business the wellbeing of our colleagues is a top priority for us. With the situation around coronavirus changing on an hourly basis our People team have been working tirelessly to ensure our colleagues are well supported and can access the support they need.
The team, who’ve all received training from Mental Health First Aid England and a range of other welling experts, have produced a factsheet on managing anxiety and coping with worrying thoughts.
Our Chief People Officer Susan Berlevy said: “As well as sharing this important information with our colleagues we’re also making it available to our clients and wider communities as part of our commitment to promoting wellbeing and positive conversations about mental health.”
Supporting Our Clients
Since the country went into lockdown at the start of the week, the majority of our colleagues have reverted to working from home. Coffee tables have become desks, and furry friends have become 'colleagues' for the next few weeks.
But where ever we work, our clients remain at the heart of everything we do and the effort to adapt so quickly to ensure we can still provide the same level of service has been outstanding.
A few of our lawyers have spoken out on their experiences.
Jodee Mayer from our serious injury team in London successfully served papers for a case via e-mail. Jodee said: “This really was a team effort, not just the various departments within Irwin Mitchell and our client, but also the defendant in agreeing to accept service by e-mail outside of his firm's usual policy. I must also recognise the patience demonstrated by our client in dealing with numerous calls, e-mails and texts, all while self-isolating – it was much appreciated."
Meanwhile, Birmingham international personal injury lawyer Jatinder Paul has been supervising his team remotely, checking in with them every morning and at regular intervals. He also conducted two meetings via Skype and over the telephone which resulted in successful settlements for clients. He said: “This has been quite straight forward as everyone is in the same boat, and it is great that other firms are working collaboratively."
In addition, Glen Whitehead, serious injury lawyer from Sheffield, successfully settled two cases in one day while home working and juggling childcare. Glen said that he and his colleagues have been able to exchange large documents across the firm's secure share facility enabling him to have everything to hand when negotiating settlement. Access to the virtual files has also enabled him to provide the same comprehensive advice to his clients just as if he had been in the office. This has worked particularly well in circumstances where time limited offers of settlement are in place.
While the majority of Irwin Mitchell's workforce have been home-based for almost a fortnight now, a small number of colleagues were still able to work from the offices prior to closure last month. Chelsea Towner from our workplace illness team in Sheffield was working on her own from one of our conference rooms where she attended a settlement hearing via telephone for a military client who was medically discharged with hearing loss and tinnitus. She explained: “I was able to call Counsel and have our usual pre joint settlement meeting conversation to discuss the parameters for settlement, the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and also our line of argument. The claimant was then dialled in and we outlined our views on the case and settlement. The joint settlement meeting then proceeded in the usual manner, and we successfully settled it."
Our Recoveries and Insolvency team in Leeds found a great way to maintain contact with their client and referrer base, by running a Virtual Pub Quiz. Partner Doug Robertson, explained that the aims behind the quiz were threefold:
“Firstly it was a good way to keep in touch with clients at a time when we cannot meet for coffee, lunches or in matter meetings. Secondly, it was a forum for clients to network with other professionals in the R&I community. And, thirdly, it was good fun and brought a small touch of normality. Socialising is such a big part of life and we wanted clients and their team to have some fun at the end of a very strange week."
The success of the quiz means the team in Leeds are now intending to make the event a regular feature, each Friday at 4pm. They've invited a rota of clients ensuring a good mix of lenders, insolvency practitioners and other R&I professionals to ensure everyone can still do a little bit of networking, while having a fun end to the week.