Giving something back - December 2015

Giving something back - December 2015

A round-up of the month's inspiring stories of businesses giving something back...

North East

Scotland

West Midlands

Yorkshire

 

North East

Darlington-based Stone Technical Services (STS) has started its charity partnership for 2016 a month early, in December, to help raise as much money as possible for local young people over Christmas.

Cash for Kids is a nationwide charity supporting children aged 0-18 who are disabled, disadvantaged or suffering from abuse or neglect, raising millions of pounds every year. Last year they raised over £15 million.

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A North East community project designed to ensure older and vulnerable people are kept safe this winter will be running again across Chester-le-Street this year.

The Snow Angels scheme, which is a joint initiative between Durham Constabulary and North East housing provider, Cestria Community Housing was first launched in 2011.  This year, Durham County Council is also supporting the initiative.

Community volunteers and staff from these organisations will ensure older and vulnerable people are kept safe during heavy snowfalls by clearing paths of snow and delivering essential provisions.

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An innovative partnership between Pottery Bank Community Centre and Community Catering Initiative has secured £377,447 from the Big Lottery Fund to launch "Walker Women". 

This new initiative supports local women in the Walker area who are experiencing hardship, by providing training to develop skills and create better opportunities for them and their families.

The programme will last 3 years, has created 4 jobs so far, and aims to support at least 500 women every year.

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People in Cumbria, Lancashire and Northumberland cleaning up and repairing sports pitches and facilities destroyed by Storm Desmond can apply for new National Lottery funding to help them get back up and running quickly.

Sport England has created a special £200,000 emergency flood relief fund to help restore pitches and repair sports facilities damaged by the rising water and gales.

The funding is available to sports clubs, local authorities and other community sports organisations to help pay for emergency repairs to damaged facilities such as football, rugby and cricket pitches, water sports centres, pavilions, changing rooms and floodlights. Financial support can be provided in as little as three weeks.

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The International Steel Trade Association (ISTA), supported by PD Ports, is helping to make Christmas special for the many Teesside families who face a difficult time this festive period due to the closure of the SSI UK steelworks in Redcar.

PD Ports, owners and operators of Teesport on the North-east coast of England, nominated the Teesside Steel Appeal Charity to receive funds raised by members of ISTA at the Association’s annual lunch held in London earlier this month.

Over six and a half thousand pounds was raised by ISTA members and presented by Jeff Kabel, ISTA Chairman, to Teesside Steel Appeal representative, Brian Dennis, who attended the lunch. The funds will be used to buy Christmas presents, vouchers to assist families with food costs and also continue to support the families affected by the closure of the Redcar steelworks into the New Year.

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A North East artist wants to help families affected by the closure of SSI by donating 10 per cent of profits he makes from the sale of his artwork.

Graphic designer, Graeme Hall, has created a series of 150 powerful, limited edition designs, depicting the closure of Consett steelworks, which saw 4,500 people lose their jobs in September 1980.

Having grown up around Consett, the father-of-two witnessed first-hand the devastating impact such a closure has on a community, which is one of the reasons he has decided to donate to the Teesside Steel Appeal. 

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Birtley businessman Joe Bell is giving up time with his family on Christmas Eve to help out at Willow Burn Hospice.

Forty-two-year-old Joe – a partner in In2Serve – said: "I’m more used to fitting kitchens than cooking in one but I’m more than happy to do anything that’s required to spread a bit of Christmas cheer." Joe will be joined on Christmas Eve by his senior sales consultant Mike Elson.  Both have very personal reasons for volunteering their time. Mike’s grandad was cared for by a hospice after suffering a stroke and Joe says he regrets not visiting his grandma enough times when she was seriously ill.

"Having come to Willow Burn a few times now, I’ve realised what a great place it is for the patients and their families and there’s no need to be nervous about coming here," he said.

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A leading builder has given away around £12,000 to good causes in the last six months and is now urging other charities to apply as there are still thousands of pounds waiting to be handed out. Individuals, groups and charities from across the North East have benefited thanks to the donations made by Persimmon Homes.

The builder launched its Community Champions fund last Spring, to support grassroots activities that improve the quality of life for local people.  The scheme invites local groups and charities to bid for cash from a £750,000 national fund, with two donations of up to £1,000 being made locally every month.

The year-long scheme has been running for more than six months with a wide cross-section of charities and groups benefiting including Blagdon Park Cricket Club, Out of Sight and The Chris Lucas Trust.

Debbie Zaben, sales and marketing director for Persimmon Homes North East, said: "There has been a tremendous response to our Community Champions scheme, but we are keen to remind individuals, clubs and charities that they can still apply.

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Sunderland College students have been doing their bit to help homeless people over the Christmas period. The group of business studies students have been busy fundraising for the Crisis at Christmas campaign as part of their BTEC studies.

They organised a day of fun activities for students and staff at the college’s Washington campus on Tuesday and invited special guest Omar Al-Janabi, a volunteer ambassador for Crisis, to speak about the work of the homeless charity.

Event organiser Chloe Henderson, 17, said: "We came up with this idea as we wanted to give something back to the public and we wanted to choose a charity that not many young people like us knew much about. After doing our research, we couldn’t believe how many homeless people there were in the region and we all wanted to help in any way we could."

The group of 13 students created giant Christmas crackers filled with new clothes and packed gift boxes full of useful items such as underwear, socks, gloves and sweets. These were sold on the day of the event and customers were given the chance to write personalised messages to be included in the crackers and presents, which will be handed out to homeless people at the Newcastle Crisis Christmas Day Meal. The students also set up a clothes bank, with donations of new and second hand garments filling six bin bags, and they raised more than £150 for the charity through a range of activities including coffee and cake stalls and a ‘name the teddy’ competition.

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A Middlesbrough FC fans group with a goal of putting on a Christmas party for 120 special Teesside children has been given a £2,500 boost by local businesses.

Organised by Boro Real Fans Believe in Dreams, this Sunday’s party will feature Disney-themed winter wonderland, with invited children receiving a golden ticket personally delivered by Father Christmas. And, after narrowly topping a public poll organised by charitable movement Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, the fans’ plans are taking shape.

In an event appropriately held at the Riverside Stadium, they received £2,500 as part of the Foundation’s latest £10,000 Goalden Giveaway. The Giveaway is funded by 40 local companies and individuals with the aim of making Teesside a better place to live and work.

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A Stockton-based male voice choir are embarking on a remarkable 18-mile walk on December 12 to raise money for Teesside steelworkers and their families struggling to make ends meet this Christmas following the closure of the SSI Redcar steelworks. Infant Hercules was created as part of the Festival of the North East in 2013 and, as the name suggests, it took its inspiration from the heritage and tradition of steel-making and heavy industry on Teesside and commissioned the popular Cattle and Cane anthem of the same name.

The march – from Stockton to Redcar - is part of a wider community engagement project entitled The Most Wonderful Bank in the World. The latest venture of Stockton’s creative partner, Mike McGrother, that project enables people to give of their time and ‘themselves’ in the month leading up to Christmas Day. The Steel River March was inspired by the recent cessation of steel-making in Redcar but, explains Mike, this walk is much more a statement of unity, empathy and community for anyone struggling at this time of the year.

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TT2 Limited, the company which manages the Tyne Tunnels, has been recognised as a partner to the Government’s Disability Confident campaign.

TT2 has a long-standing track record of supporting disabled employees, stakeholders and members of the wider community, which is acknowledged by the partnership.

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A northern charity established to fund research into the treatment of childhood cancers has received a welcome boost to its coffers, thanks to a couple of large donations.

The North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund (NECCR) has been given two cheques totalling £50,000; one for £10,000 from Gateshead-based medical supply company, VH Bio, and the other £40,000 from an anonymous private donor.

The money has been used to fund a number of new pieces of equipment at the world-leading Northern Institute for Cancer Research (NICR) at Newcastle University, with which the charity has close links.

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A video of a young deaf girl’s meeting with Santa Claus at a North East shopping centre has attracted a worldwide audience. Six-year-old Tilly Morton-Cairns, from Gateshead, was born with a rare virus which has left her profoundly deaf and often unable to communicate. But, thanks to intu Metrocentre, Tilly has been able to ‘speak’ to the most important person of all; Santa Claus.

As part of its Christmas festivities, the North East shopping centre arranged two special sessions with Santa and Mrs Claus for children who communicate via sign language. The idea for a signing Santa came from the centre’s marketing team while planning new ideas for Christmas. After learning members of the intu Metrocentre Customer Services teams received sign language training, they wanted to incorporate their new skills to spread the spirit of Christmas to children with hearing difficulties.


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Scotland

An Inverurie-based hair salon has won a national business award for its innovative approach to the environment. Élan Hair Design, which can claim to be the UK’s most eco-friendly salon, has won a Best Business Award for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) after impressing the judges with its extensive efforts to reduce its environmental impact.

A spokesperson from the judging panel at the Best Business Awards said: "Élan Hair Design is a role model for all hairdressing salons wishing to cut their carbon footprint. The salon is involved in many other areas of CSR but its commitment to the environment is awe inspiring."

Élan undertook a £250,000 ‘green’ refurbishment of its premises three years ago aimed at reducing its carbon footprint. Features of the revamp included the installation of PV (photovoltaic) panels which generate electricity and solar-thermal panels to provide energy for hot water.

The salon has continued to develop innovative methods of reducing its carbon footprint, including designing a system to send hair clippings and other biodegradable waste to be spread as compost on local farmers’ fields. Unique measures such as these have allowed the salon to divert 95% of its waste from landfill. The business also introduced a carbon management plan, which has successfully led to the salon reducing its emissions by 94%.

The company has also held events to encourage other like-minded businesses to become more sustainable and, by raising awareness, increase consumer demand for more eco-friendly products and services.

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Employees at Kier Construction in Scotland have helped raise £10,200 over the past few months as part of the Kier Group’s ongoing support for a leading UK charity. The money raised will be donated via The Kier Foundation, Kier’s independently registered charity, to Macmillan Cancer Support.

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George Nisbet, a recently retired partner who now acts as a consultant at chartered surveyors DM Hall's Edinburgh office, has been given an award at Action for Children’s annual Stephenson awards held, this year, at the House of Lords.

Along with fellow businessmen Colin Taylor, Colin Mackenzie and Pete Lowrie, George was presented with a Stephenson Award in recognition for helping to raise over £1.5 million for Action for Children Scotland, a charity which supports the most vulnerable children and young people in Scotland.

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Aberdeen may have a reputation for being one of the wealthiest cities in Scotland but for many children the daily reality is a troubled family life with drug and alcohol misuse, physical abuse and neglect.

The charity Befriend A Child struggles to meet the demand for its service supporting underprivileged and vulnerable children living in the Granite City – but thanks to a windfall of £17,203 from Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation, it is now able to reach out to help more children in need.

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23 year old Young Entrepreneur of the Year Josh Quigley recently launched a global challenge to travel to over 80 countries in a kilt and Scottish Morphsuit to raise awareness of mental health after he battled with depression this year and attempted to take his own life.

Since launching the challenge, Josh’s video has reached over 100,000 people on Facebook and close to 250,000 people have viewed posts from his Tartan Explorer page online.

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Brave employees from GPH Builders Merchants, which is based in Westhill, Inverurie and Stonehaven, stripped off for the company’s 2016 calendar, with proceeds going to CLAN and Alzheimer Scotland.

Staff posed for tasteful photographs in the style of Calendar Girls meets Bob the Builder. Taken at the firm’s Inverurie branch, the images were captured by Aberdeen photographer Carol Frost. 

Customers and clients can be the proud owner of this one-off calendar for a suitable donation, with money being split between each charity.

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For the third year running, Aberdeen-based property development and commercial leasing company, Waterloo Quay Properties, together with one of its tenants, North Atlantic Drilling, is participating in Befriend a Child’s Christmas Giving Tree campaign following its success from the last two years.   
 
Waterloo Quay Properties, which is based at the city’s harbour side, has decorated a large Christmas tree in the reception area of its commercial office development, Provender House, kindly donated by its client, North Atlantic Drilling.
 
Befriend a Child is a independent charity, which provides a one-to-one befriending service for vulnerable and underprivileged local children aged 4-16 in Aberdeen and the surrounding area. The Christmas Giving Tree scheme enables the charity to ensure that every single child it supports receives some presents at Christmas time.
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A charity quiz organised by Clydesdale Bank’s Perth business and private banking team has raised over £500 to support Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).
Around 100 local customers, professionals and Bank staff took part in the event held during Clydesdale Bank’s Business Week. Twenty one teams competed for top place with Perth solicitors Miller Hendry emerging victorious.

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Glasgow-based Beatson Cancer Charity has announced the launch of a new partnership with outdoor advertising company Forrest Media, which will increase the charity’s profile and help raise vital funds to support the UK’s busiest cancer centre, The Beatson and its related facilities.

Forrest Media has pledged to support the charity over the coming years by sharing the charity’s messages using outdoor advertising sites and digital screens, allowing them to effectively communicate with larger audiences of people from prime locations across Scotland and increase donations to the charity.
 

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West Midlands

Fourteen Birmingham businesses took part in Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Big Give Challenge this Christmas enabling hundreds of local disadvantaged children to enjoy a trip to the theatre during the festive season.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge is a national annual fundraising event which offers donors the chance to double the value of their gifts through a two day donation challenge.  This December, together with matched giving from the Big Give, generous Birmingham businesses donated over £13,000 towards The REP’s education and community work.

The businesses that took on the challenge were: Barclays, Binding Site, Ellisons, Grosvenor Casinos, Jaguar Landrover, JLT, Just Good Food, Lloyds, Pertemps, Pinsent Masons, Revolver Coop, RBS, SGH Martineau and Wragges. Between them they raised £13,386 and as a result over 260 local school children will get to see a performance of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at The REP this Christmas with some enjoying a special ‘relaxed performance’ specifically tailored for children with severe learning difficulties.

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Birmingham and Solihull-based law firm The Wilkes Partnership is ditching Secret Santa this Christmas to support children’s fun and happiness charity KidsOut’s Giving Tree Appeal, and is urging other businesses to do the same.

KidsOut, a charity that focuses on giving vulnerable children fun and happiness through positive experiences, has teamed up with The Wilkes Partnership. Together, they are inviting companies to get involved in buying Christmas presents for children affected by domestic violence by setting up a Giving Tree in their office.

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Birmingham-based contractor Colmore Tang Construction is helping to raise much-needed funds to provide new mattresses for Birmingham Christmas Shelter.

The charity provides food, warmth, shelter and friendship to those in need over the festive period, when many other facilities are closed. Run entirely by volunteers, Birmingham Christmas Shelter is open 24 hours a day over the Christmas week, welcoming between 50 and 150 guests daily and providing them with hot meals, drinks, entertainment and a safe place to sleep.

In addition to raising funds to hold the shelter, this year the charity also needs to raise additional money to provide new mattresses for its guests, as its existing ones have reached the end of their lives. To help support this, Colmore Tang Construction has agreed to match funds raised by Birmingham Christmas Shelter.

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A £700,000 grant from Pears Foundation will go towards a major new development planned for the West Midlands.

The TouchBase Pears centre, which is expected to open in spring 2017, has been developed by national deafblind charity, Sense, and will provide specialist services for people with sensory impairments, as well as services for the whole community – including a café, conference and training facilities, arts and performance area and a community space.

Announced in early December by HRH the Princess Royal at a special fundraising event in Birmingham, the centre will be based in Selly Oak, and form part of the area’s ongoing regeneration, creating up to 130 new jobs.  It is expected to cost £14 million, with an overall fundraising target of £5 million. £1.4 million has already been raised from trusts and foundations.

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A group of 16 – 25 year olds, who are not in education, employment or training are starting a two-week community project this week, to spruce up The Old Rectory Farm in Sheldon Country Park for visitors. The team, approximately two thirds of whom are ex-offenders, are currently taking part in The Prince’s Trust Team Programme, supported by PwC in the Midlands.

The 12 week initiative, run by West Midlands Police in conjunction with Solihull College, offers young people opportunities for qualifications and personal development, alongside work experience, practical skills, a community project and a residential week.

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Lookers Vauxhall Birmingham has helped a Midlands based charity support even more families fighting cancer, by donating a vehicle to Help Harry Help Others (HHHO).

Following the opening of Birmingham’s drop-in cancer support centre in May this year, the charity goes the extra mile to ensure accessibility to cancer support services across the region. Facing the growing challenge of travelling throughout the Midlands, Lookers Vauxhall was delighted to offer its own unique donation to help support the charity’s work; a Vauxhall Mokka.

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Redditch law firm Kerwoods have partnered with Where Next Association to brighten up the local neighbourhood.

Being keen to support the charity, which offers work experience and training for the disadvantaged and those with learning disabilities, Kerwoods commissioned them to provide and install four custom-made window boxes.

The idea was to add a spot of colour to the exterior of the 7 Church Road premises and this particular area of Redditch town centre in general.

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Yorkshire

A fast-expanding Yorkshire accountants is celebrating its tenth year in business this month with a generous donation scheme for the Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope.  

Wintersgill Associates, based in Ilkley and established in 2005 by Paul Wintersgill, is donating £10 for every tax return it completes to the hospice which cares for people with life-limiting conditions. The firm’s clients are also being encouraged to make a donation from any tax savings made.

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Wakefield's business community, along with guests from across the region, gathered at Cedar Court Hotel on 10th December for the Wakefield Annual Charity Lunch, more commonly known as WACCL, to raise a record breaking £28,000.

Celebrating its third year, WACCL launched the festive season in style, gathering together a veritable who’s-who’s list of business leaders and key players behind a host of local companies to raise funds to support young people in the district.

This year’s beneficiaries, Theatre Royal Wakefield’s Performance Academy and MY Burns Club, will share the money raised which was the highest in the event’s history.

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Intercity rail operator First TransPennine Express (FTPE), along with the Forestry Commission, has awarded three Yorkshire community groups £3,200 in funding to help develop local environmental projects. Projects in Skelton Grange (Leeds), Rawcliffe Meadows (York) and Malton were successful in their Green Grants bids.

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) at Skelton Grange in South Leeds has been given £2,200 to put on ‘Green Team’ sessions at their Environment Centre in South Leeds. The sessions will encourage people from the local community to come together to engage in conservation and social activities that promote healthy, active lifestyles and environmental improvements.

Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows and York Natural Environment Trust has been given £450 to ‘bring back the barn owl’. The money will be used to construct and erect three barn owl boxes in Rawcliffe Meadows near York. The Trust will work with the Brunswick Organic Nursery, a local work place for people with learning difficulties, to construct the owl boxes.

For the past 15 years Derwent Riverside Project has been working to enhance the five acre Malton Castle Garden. The Project has now been given a £570 Green Grant to create four wildlife habitat benches that will benefit the local environment by acting as insect houses.

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Northallerton-based online retailer PlasticBoxShop has joined the relief effort in the wake of devastating floods which hit parts of Cumbria this month.

Record-breaking rainfall levels caused damage to an estimated 5,000-plus homes and businesses in Cumbria and Lancashire, leaving their owners facing a huge clean-up and salvage operation in the run-up to Christmas.

In a bid to help, PlasticBoxShop sent a hundred of its 80-litre plastic storage boxes with lids to two emergency response centres in Kendal and Carlisle. From there they will be distributed to victims of the flooding, with priority given to the elderly and those in greatest need.

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High-profile entrepreneurs James Lambert OBE, Lawrence Tomlinson and Jonathan Turner have shared the secrets of their success with Yorkshire business leaders at a one off seasonal charity event.  

The event was jointly spearheaded by Connect Gazelles and Bowcliffe Hall, raising over £1,500 for the Hollybank Trust which nurtures and educates children and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities and The Jaytee Foundation, which supports the education and personal development of young people.

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Barnsley sketchbook manufacturer, Pink Pig, has donated £6,600 to its chosen charity for the year, the MS Society, as its sales grow.

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Lawyers from Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office were on hand to support the West Yorkshire Panathlon Challenge on 3rd December at the Richard Dunn Centre in Bradford.

The event, which was sponsored by Irwin Mitchell, offered an opportunity for disabled children of secondary school age from the region to take part in a variety of sports.

The Panathlon Challenge provides sporting opportunities to more than 5,000 disabled young people every year and the event in West Yorkshire included a wide-range of sports from boccia and polybat to table cricket and new age kurling.

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The Leeds office of law firm Irwin Mitchell have hosted a fashion show at nearby high street store, Jigsaw, raising £1,715 for the Child Brain Injury Trust (CBIT), a leading voluntary sector organisation providing support to families affected by childhood acquired brain injury across the UK.

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A team from Raleys Solicitors in Barnsley have taken on a hairy challenge to raise money for charity. The three, Ben Williamson, John Welch and Steve Fearnley, have been growing their beards throughout November for Barnsley Hospice. The trio have collected £140 in sponsorship money which will be matched by the firm’s managing partners.

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This Christmas, the team at independent assurance, tax and advisory firm, Grant Thornton’s Leeds office is supporting its local Mencap branch, the charity which supports children and adults with learning disabilities.

The firm is aiming to collect 75 toys for some of the 300 families to which Leeds Mencap provides long-term support on a weekly basis. The charity advises, supports and offers practical help to the whole family through a range of activities including youth clubs, play schemes, a residential home, a family support centre and through its Young Ambassadors Programme, all with the aim of helping to improve lives and opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

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