Cambridge ProHelp case studies

To mark the 13th annual National Pro Bono Week, Cambridge ProHelp produced these case studies on the work its members have undertaken for their local communities.

Eversheds LLP and The Northern Footpath Forum

Sally-Ann Jackson from The Northern Footpath Forum in Peterborough approached ProHelp for support as they needed legal help with purchasing land from a private landowner so that they could extend a public footpath that would allow walkers to walk between two villages safely.

Working with the Northern Footpath Forum has allowed us to help a local community group who wouldn’t ordinarily have had access to legal advice. As the opening of the footpath was publicised this work also allowed us to raise our profile within the local area – giving us both benefits from working together. The support given to the Northern Footpath Forum was undertaken by junior members of staff which provided them with routine transactional experience in a real client situation.

- Audrey Black,
Paralegal and CR Manager, Eversheds
Eversheds LLP agreed to take on the ProHelp assignment and Jessica Pinto and Heather Farrell from the firm both worked on the project which involved 12 hours of their time, at a value of £1,800, and has taken almost 10 months to complete. Jessica and Heather assisted with the legal aspects of the purchase of the land for £500 which included the removal of a charge to allow the Northern Footpath Forum to open the Maxi Cut Welland Link which links the Deeping Road in Peakirk with the existing Public Right of Way along the south side of the River Welland.

Now that the land has been purchased, the next stage of the project is to provide a footbridge over the River Welland at Deeping St James to allow the safe access between the Deeping Lakes and the villages to the north of Peterborough on foot. This will be a very popular route as to access the Deeping Lakes by car from Peakirk is a 15 mile round trip despite the lakes being only half a mile away on foot.

The Northern Footpath Forum has applied to have the status of public footpath granted to enable easier access between the two local villages in their area and Peterborough City Council is currently carrying out the legal designation of the new footpath as a Public Right of Way - a condition of the grant funding they obtained from Natural England Paths for Communities scheme to purchase the land.

The new footpath was opened on 5 May 2014 and the Group walked from Peakirk Village Hall along the Deeping Road up to the River Welland with refreshments served in the Village Hall.

"Without ProHelp and the pro bono support Eversheds gave us, we would not have been able to afford the legal fees to purchase the land from the landowner and open up the footpath linking the two villages. Their help meant that this popular local project could be completed and that many people could benefit everyday. We are very grateful to both Heather and Jess who have given us an outstanding service, always polite and helpful, despite occasional frustrations. Thank you." said Sally-Ann from the Northern Footpath Forum.

Hugill Gordon logoChartered accountants Hugill Gordon and the Charity of Ann Howsden

The Charity of Ann Howsden based in Saffron Walden and who provide services to prevent or relief poverty for children, young people, people with disabilities and the elderly in the Hinxton area approached Cambridge ProHelp as they needed some help with managing their financial records.

Hugill Gordon accepted the ProHelp project and Gordon Round met with the charity to discuss their requirements. Hugill Gordon agreed to supply the charity with a copy of financial recording software – QuickBooks Pro 2012 – and then provided on-going training on how to use the system and general bookkeeping advice. In all, Hugill Gordon gave 11 hours of pro bono time to the charity over a 6 months period putting them in a better position to be able to maintain their financial records and to produce their accounts in-house.

The support also saved the charity in the region of £1,650 which meant that they could more usefully utilise the funds they would otherwise have had to pay an accountant to help their many beneficiaries.

"The Charity of Ann Howsden is a wonderful resource for the residents in the Parish of Hinxton. It was good to be able to assist them in this way." said Gordon Round, Director of Hugill Gordon.

Workers at the Romsely Mill Charity shop, helped by mosescameronwilliamsArchitects mosescameronwilliams and the Romsey Mill Charity Shop

mosescameronwilliams, Cambridge based architects, were asked to support the Romsey Mill Charity Shop with a re-fit to their shop.

As part of the company’s CSR policy, employees are each allocated three days per year in company time to support charity activity within the local community. Two members of staff embarked on a one-day field trip to help Romsey Mill re-configure the shop layout. Using their professional skills and expertise employees were able to assist with a scheme which would enhance the shop and utilise the space more efficiently.

In all, the company gave 15 hours of pro bono time equating £2,250 of professional time - a huge financial saving for the charity had they commissioned the work from an architect.

“Practical help like this makes a big difference to a small charity like Romsey Mill, so we really do appreciate it. We hope that the shop will see a leap in sales and donations now it is looking so much smarter.” said Charity Green, Fundraiser – People and Partnership at Romsey Mill.

 “We were delighted to spend time with Romsey Mill and hope that the re-fit benefits the charity. The time spent is part of our commitment to all staff to have three paid days a year to support charitable activity. This is a core part of our practice's values and helps build a healthy morale within the team.” added Murdoch Cameron, Director of mosescameronwilliams architects.