Russell-Cooke recently entered into a one year sponsorship agreement with Wimbledon's Polka Theatre as Access Sponsor for the theatre's Polka 40th anniversary outreach programme of celebrations (Polka 40).

Polka Theatre is one of the few theatres in the UK dedicated exclusively to children. It opened its doors in its current location in 1979. The theatre has been marking its 40th anniversary year with an ambitious programme of arts activities alongside the £7.5 million re-development of their building, focused on expansion to increase capacity and improve accessibility.

This year's Polka 40 Access programme involved arts activities with four SEND (special educational needs and disability) schools taking a show and five workshops into each of the following schools:

  • Linden Lodge (Wandsworth) for visually impaired children including those who are multi-disabled
  • Cricket Green School for children with a diverse range of needs including those with moderate learning difficulties, students with autistic spectrum disorders and those with speech and language development difficulties
  • Perseid School for children with severe and complex learning difficulties and learners with an additional diagnosis of autism and/or physical/sensory difficulties
  • Rushy Meadow Primary Academy (Sutton) which has a unit for deaf pupils with moderate through to profound hearing loss

Russell-Cooke believes in providing access to justice where it is most at risk. The firm is proud of its long-term strategic commitment to supporting, through legal aid, children at risk, private and public sector tenants, and the homeless and those facing serious criminal allegations. With offices in Putney and Kingston-upon-Thames as well as Central London, the firm supports the local communities in which it operates and has had a relationship with the Polka Theatre for well over a decade.

Jonathan Thornton, managing partner said: "We have worked with Polka Theatre for many years and enthusiastically support its uniquely inclusive and creative approach, combining education, culture and welfare. It is very much a local theatre with an international reach and a reputation for the highest quality - this reflects our own profile as a law firm. Access to justice is important to us so when the opportunity arose to support the 40th anniversary programme providing access to theatre, we were delighted to take it. The work with SEN children is also closely aligned with the work of our own leading children and education team."

Russell-Cooke's education team works with the parents and guardians of children with special educational needs to ensure they are on an equal playing field when navigating through the complexities of education provision and access and the laws surrounding it.

Georgina Downard, education lawyer at Russell-Cooke said: "The performance of children who have benefited from Polka Theatre's Access project at Perseid was fantastic. It appears that the project has been a really valuable asset to the school. To see children with severe and complex learning difficulties proudly perform something they had effectively written themselves to an audience was wonderful."

Sarah Ruff, Head of Development at Polka Theatre said: "We are very grateful to Russell-Cooke for their incredible support of Polka Theatre. Russell-Cooke have been valued supporters of Polka since 2006, ensuring that we can offer theatre activities to children, free of charge, regardless of their background or ability. Their recent sponsorship of our access programme as part of Polka 40, has demonstrated a real commitment to our community and the children we work with in SEND (special educational needs and disability) schools."