Leading law firm Penningtons Manches last night launched the Penningtons Manches Charitable Foundation at an official reception attended by nearly 200 guests. Established to bring structure and focus to the firm’s charitable giving and pro bono work, the foundation will prioritise a core project every year with the first being human trafficking and modern slavery.
The firm was delighted to welcome two prominent speakers in the field, the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland OBE and journalist and broadcaster Julie Etchingham. It was also very pleased to announce the organisations with which the foundation will partner over the next 12 months, which undertake vital work to support victims of exploitation: The Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU); Caritas Bakhita House; Helen Bamber Foundation; Human Trafficking Foundation; St. Mungo’s and The Passage.
Kevin Hyland OBE said: “Victims of trafficking could be just around the corner from where we are standing right now. Traffickers and slave drivers are illegally committing innocent lives to exploitation and abuse, forcing them to endure experiences that are horrifying in their inhumanity. More than 200 years ago William Wilberforce led Britain in the fight against slavery; today we find ourselves fighting its modern face. The UK is leading the way in the fight against this terrible practice and I’m delighted that the Penningtons Manches Charitable Foundation is dedicating resource and expertise to support some great organisations working to help victims.”
Julie Etchingham, who has led a number of investigations and reports into slavery and trafficking, in particular highlighting the human trade routes coming out of Nigeria, told attendees: “Once you’ve heard just one story of a trafficking victim, you can’t look away.” She described some of the victims she has met through her work, including women who have been tricked into prostitution, have had their passports taken away and income confiscated. She commented: “Focused initiatives such as the projects the Penningtons Manches Charitable Foundation will support alongside its partner organisations, are invaluable in allowing more people to both see and hear victims.”
Building on Penningtons Manches’ history of supporting various causes, the objectives of the foundation are to support vulnerable people, education projects and general charitable purposes. Alongside the central programme, the foundation will support initiatives that have a positive impact on the communities in which the firm’s partners and staff live and work. Each UK office committee (in London, Basingstoke, Cambridge, Guildford, Oxford and Reading) will annually select a number of local projects and charities whose activities complement the main objectives of the foundation.
The foundation is funded by donations from Penningtons Manches’ partners and staff as well as from clients, contacts and other friends of the firm. Activities are overseen by a group of seven trustees from within the firm, chaired by family partner Gillian Rivers. In addition to financial assistance, one of the key offerings is pro bono and voluntary activity, which is actively encouraged across the firm.
Gillian Rivers, chair of the Penningtons Manches Charitable Foundation, said: “We are so delighted to launch the foundation following many months of planning. We are incredibly grateful to Kevin and Julie for sharing their insight into this vile and pervasive affliction whose victims suffer in silence. We are honoured to be supporting six fantastic organisations and look forward to making a meaningful contribution to their work.”