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Around the world challenge for HHC

A&O people from 22 offices and alumni travelled over 53,000km, raising over GBP37,000 for Hope and Homes for Children in our largest charity challenge event ever.

Around the world challenge for HHC

At the beginning of lockdown in London back in March, London Corporate partner Hugh Robinson and associate Lewis Weaver, also in Corporate, along with Edward Mackaness, an associate director for business services, and ICM senior associate Juliet Chrispin, hatched a plan to virtually circumnavigate the globe to raise  money for A&O’s Global Charity Partner, Hope and Homes for Children. 

The idea was to recruit people from across A&O to collectively travel 30,000km by any means possible, while sticking to local Covid-19 guidance, throughout the month of June. The goal was to raise GBP30,000.  

The largest challenge event ever held at A&O

In total, 224 partners, employees and alumni from 22 offices took part, logging 78,857.9km and raising approximately GBP37,000, including generous contributions from local offices to support their participants. The number of people who took part in the event makes it the largest challenge event for a charity that A&O has ever seen. 

“We were overwhelmed by the response,” said Hugh. “People from all around the network came together to challenge themselves and to raise much needed funds for our Global Charity Partner.”

“It was a great idea,” said Nick Wall, a Corporate partner in Tokyo. “A lot of us have been stuck inside over the past few months and I found forcing myself to take an hour each day for a walk was a great way of keeping both mentally and physically fit.”

It was a great idea. A lot of us have been stuck inside over the past few months and I found forcing myself to take an hour each day for a walk was a great way of keeping both mentally and physically fit.

Nick Wall, a Corporate partner in Tokyo

Helping 32 children grow up in loving homes

Most importantly, the team totally smashed its fundraising target of GBP30,000, raising over GBP37,000. This comes at a challenging time for Hope and Homes for Children, as Covid-19 places children in vulnerable families at even greater risk of losing their loving homes and childhoods to the neglect of an orphanage. Children already confined to orphanages are facing increased levels of abuse, harm and infection due to staff shortages.

The amount the team has raised will help support 32 children, enabling them to leave damaging orphanages, prevent further suffering and deliver positive benefits for their development and life chances. Evidence from Hope and Homes for Children’s work shows that 18 months after being removed from an orphanage and placed in a family environment, the development of children under the age of six quickly recovered from 61% of typical levels to 99%*. We are helping children like Vasilica in Moldova.

Vasilica’s story

Vasilica was only four months old and his sister, Ecaterina, was just one when they were sent to live in the orphanage. Vasilica was born prematurely with cerebral palsy. Poverty and discrimination made it very hard for his mum, Ana, to care for him alone, without adequate support. The authorities thought both her children would be better off in an institution. But orphanages do not protect children, they harm them. 

Consigning children to one-size-fits-all institutions, puts them at high risk of neglect and abuse and threatens their fundamental development. This is especially true for children as young as Vasilica and Ecaterina. To feel safe and happy, to grow, learn and really thrive, all children need to know that they are loved, and they belong; they need families.  

Ana battled for two years to bring her children home again. Through Hope and Homes for Children’s local partners, CCF Moldova, Hope and Homes for Children made sure she had the practical and emotional support that she needed to succeed.  “I saw that Ana loved her children and she fought for them,” says Natalia, the experienced social worker who stood by her, every step of the way.  

In the orphanage, Vasilica spent long hours alone in a cot with no one to play with him, encourage him or love him.  Today, reunited with his family, he’s a very active, much-loved little boy who likes building tall towers with his wooden blocks and playing chase with his sister. 

Natalia is continuing to make sure that Ana has the specialist support and advice she needs to continue to care for Vasilica at home. Their next goal together is to make sure that he can attend nursery and then school, so that he can continue to learn and develop, alongside his sister and the other children in his community.

During lockdown, Natalia has stayed in touch by phone to make sure Vasilica’s mum, Ana, continues to have the advice and encouragement she needs to meet his special needs. CCF has also supplied the family with emergency food and hygiene essentials to help keep Vasilica and Ecaterina safe at home, where they belong, through this crisis.

Mark Waddington, CEO of Hope and Homes for Children, said, “I am incredibly grateful to everyone at Allen & Overy who took part in the A&O Around the World challenge, and to those who supported their friends and colleagues by donating. It is a brilliant achievement and fantastic to see so many partners, employees and alumni from A&O take part and smash their target distance as well as their fundraising. 

“A&O has been relentless in its support of Hope and Homes for Children throughout our Global Charity Partnership,” continues Mark. “The success of the A&O Around the World challenge is down to A&O’s people and their unwavering drive. You have created an innovative event that is not only inclusive but ambitious and you have delivered on all fronts. 

“For Hope and Homes for Children, it means we can support even more children to grow up in the love and protection of a family rather than suffering the devastating effects of being confined to an orphanage. This has never been more important as we work to ensure these children and their families are not forgotten during or after this global crisis.

“From all of us at Hope and Homes for Children - our utmost thanks.”

The Around the World challenge follows A&O’s extension to its Global Charity Partnership with Hope and Homes for Children. Read more: 

Support the team: 

*Evaluation of a two year programme in Rwanda (2013-2015) involving the transition of 578 children from two orphanages into families.

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