PUTTING smiles on the faces of children was the inspiration behind the collection of toys, books, and sweet treats by a team at Grimsby’s Wilkin Chapman solicitors.
With lockdown two just ending but closely followed by pre-Christmas Tier 3 restrictions, members of the firm’s Commercial Recoveries team wanted to join forces with a local charity to brighten up families’ days.
Women’s Aid was chosen, and the idea came about to fill local treat bags that would be great for the children but also useful for the mums. With paralegal and future trainee solicitor Kelsey Jerrard leading operations, the team was equipped with a ‘shopping list’ from some of the families who live in charity-owned supported accommodation and set about collecting what had been requested.
Team leader and senior paralegal Jenna Emsley-Fairbass explained: “Lockdown at any time has its challenges but more so through the winter. We got our thinking caps on and decided that we would send letters to families asking what their desirable items would be for a lockdown treat bag.
“With 11 replies and a whole list of items we set to work, first having clear-outs in our own homes to bring some smiles during this difficult time. One of the replies was from a mum who asked for ‘things that would make her children smile because when her children smile, so does she’. When you read something like that it makes you realise just how much we take for granted,” added Jenna.
The team also managed to source items from friends and relatives, whilst donating money individually to buy products they didn’t have. Jenna highlighted how colleague Kelsey Jerrard even managed to source one particular book, after contacting the author, who then agreed to sign it.
Jenna explained how the work of the team during 2020 had inspired its decision to support a local community charity.
“One thing we have experienced within our team this year is how some people have used lockdown to work on issues such as problem debt, which in some cases has highlighted peoples’ vulnerability. We have had seen a rise in people getting in touch to discuss their situation, and an openness to work with us in tackling their issues. That is why we knew we wanted to work with a charity in the local community to help those who are vulnerable and give something back,” she said.
“Our mantra this year has been ‘in a world where you can be anything, be kind’. We know our kindness in this way will make a difference to the women and children when they see their treat bags,” added Jenna.
Women’s Aid North East Lincolnshire chief officer, Denise Farman thanked the team, saying: “Asking all our women and children ‘what would you like in a treat bag if you could choose your favourite things’ was so much fun, and emotional too. Some of the women said that ‘absolutely anything would be lovely’ and others wrote great long lists. The children wrote things like, Orios, M&Ms, Crunchie, Toblerone, custard creams, Jaffa cakes, and much more.
“Our friends at Wilkin Chapman have gone that extra mile to make this special, personalising items and finding things to brighten peoples’ days,” added Denise.
Women’s Aid has had a refuge in North East Lincolnshire for more than 40 years, with a rebuild and modernisation in 2006. It also has safe houses in the community and self-contained supported accommodation. For more information please see www.womensaidnel.org