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Device donations keep communities connected

If there’s one phrase that those of us in the telecoms world hear week in week out at the moment, it’s that there’s never been such a pressing need to remain connected.

And that doesn’t just apply in a business context. Entire workforces have relocated to their home settings in an attempt to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, and this has presented a wealth of productivity, data security and team engagement issues for organisations to deal with, as a result.

But – away from the remote ‘workplace’ – individuals have also been forced to adapt to the clichéd ‘new normal’ on a more personal level. And, in many instances, the lockdown, social distancing, and shielding measures that people have been asked to take, have left them feeling psychologically – not just physically – isolated. Such feelings have undoubtedly been experienced on an insurmountable scale for the more socially vulnerable groups and people living alone.

Passionate about ‘doing our bit’ during this difficult period, the Trenches Law team therefore took some time out to consider how to support people affected by COVID. With the team busier than ever, volunteering for the NHS was certainly going to prove a stretch. But helping communities remain connected is an indirect benefit of the wayleave services we provide, so sticking with this theme made a lot of sense.

We therefore contacted BITC (Business in the Community) – one of Prince Charles’ charities – regarding the donation of unused IT and telecoms equipment. And, as a result of our dialogue, we’ve organised the following:

  • We’re providing a kindle, iPhone and printer with cartridges, to Walworth Golden Oldies – a charity based in the deprivation hotspot of Southwark. This organisation works with vulnerable older adults – most of whom have been isolating for months – and provides multiple services which promote socialisation. The smartphone will enable a previously disconnected resident to take part in the charity’s weekly Zoom call, and the printer will facilitate the distribution of a hard copy member newsletter.
  • We’ve also gifted a kindle, monitor, PC system, CD player and speakers to Centre Point – a charity for young people experiencing homelessness. This equipment will be shared amongst a number of service users, and a DVD player has also been donated for group movies.

But we haven’t stopped there.

Recognising the commercial pressures that COVID-19 has caused in the business community, Trenches Law’s co-founder and MD Sharon McDermott was also keen to provide pro bono support to local companies impacted by the virus. One of the firms that’s benefitted from complimentary employment law advice is a nearby taxi service that has been severely affected by the lockdown.

“The conversation began when the furlough term began to hit the headlines, and so many organisations large and small had no idea what it meant,” explained Sharon. “Suddenly, employers found themselves thrust into a complex HR minefield that they needed to navigate quickly, but compliantly, as they battled to keep their teams in business.

“Providing this support to a company I know and respect, felt like the least I could do. The enthusiasm from the wider team, to do even more for communities impacted by COVID-19 was really inspiring. I am very proud of my colleagues for making this happen and hope our small gesture will make a difference to the lives of people that could otherwise feel more ‘cut off’ from society than ever.”

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