Access to justice for all in the UK is a myth. The majority of people cannot afford average legal costs, whether defending their employment, housing, consumer rights or more.
Law Centres offer free legal advice and representation to those who need it. We are here to protect the life you live.
But we have recently faced brutal cuts. One in five of our Centres have closed in the last 10 years. This means hundreds of thousands of people have missed out on being given a fair hearing.
PROTECTING THE LIFE YOU LIVE
Law For All will change this. On the 50th Anniversary of our inception, the campaign will secure Law Centres for the long haul.
Ending a dependence on government funding will protect us against further cuts or crises.
Through your support, people will be protected - whatever their income. You can help ensure everyone has access to justice.
HOW CAN I HELP
Through the Justice Fund, Law Centres will be sustained financially long into the future. Find out how here.FIND OUT MORE
Join the Justice Club and receive all the benefits of being in our network of supporters.FIND OUT MORE
Raise money for Law Centres like never before through our Justice Challenge.FIND OUT MORE
Have fun while fundraising - and enjoy a Justice NightFIND OUT MORE
Sitting in Limbo
In July 1969, Delbert Clarke came to the UK aged 13.
Like many of the Windrush generation, he was never
given, and didn’t claim, documents that would prove
his citizenship. He had no idea he would ever need to.
In 2011, he was evicted by his landlord after complaining about the property he was renting. He approached the council for help, but they asked him to prove his status.
That was the start of a four-year ordeal in which he was repeatedly made homeless.
‘All of a sudden you got no papers, no one knows who
you are. I can’t explain, it’s so emotional, what I’ve been through cos of Windrush. The nights I spent on the streets. Homelessness, it’s a wicked thing, it’s a wicked thing.’
After the Windrush scandal broke, Hackney Community Law Centre helped him challenge the Home Office, and secure his right to remain and access to housing. “If it weren’t for the Law Centre, I wouldn’t be sitting here,”
Clap for Carers
In May, a pregnant healthcare worker on an agency contract through NHS Professionals was left without work or pay for eight weeks as the coronavirus pandemic hit. South West London Law Centre believed - this was a breach of the UK’s Employment Rights Act 1996.
'I want to be helping them fight the coronavirus in hospital, but I can’t risk being there. Another colleague who was pregnant saw her child die, so I can’t risk myself and my baby.
I’m really struggling, but I don’t have a choice. That’s why I called the Law Centre to see if they could help me. Money is my problem now, so when the Law Centre said they could get me a solicitor but I wouldn’t have to pay for it, I was so relieved.’
We now need you help so that cases like this get the right to protection under the law they deserve.
In Northern Ireland, Michael O’Donnell is challenging the decision to refuse him bereavement payments. They had been denied to him because his recently deceased wife Pauline was severely disabled due to a progressive degenerative condition, and unable to pay National Insurance contributions.
“After Pauline’s death I couldn’t afford to do things with the kids to take their mind off what had happened. I still owe money for the funeral costs. Our income as a household had massively decreased. There have been days when we scraped together food or couldn’t afford to heat the house. It all really took a toll on me and the family.
“I have been so involved in the whole process of appealing the decision that I feel guilty I didn’t give enough time to my kids, all I have left of Pauline, besides my memories.”
That is when the Law Centre in Northern Ireland stepped in. They are working to establish if the department acted lawfully, or whether it amounted to discrimination on the grounds of disability.
If they are successful in securing him the payments he so desperately needs, the case will not only help Michael but also help ensure others don’t have to go through a similar experience in the future.
Black Lives Matter
In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, Ingrid Antoine-Onikoyi and her husband Falil experienced systemic police racism for themselves.
While driving back from visiting an elderly relative, they were stopped by police and harassed.
Fortunately Ingrid filmed the incident, which can be seen here.
Turning to Suffolk Law Centre for help, the police were rapidly forced to issue an apology leaving the couple grateful for their support.
“Audrey at Suffolk Law Centre’s support, legal information and guidance has been tremendously helpful,” Ingrid said “It made us feel comfortable to progress the complaint against the police.’
Lorraine Cox, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, was required to search for work for months after medically retiring because of her condition and had to undergo medical assessment for both universal credit (UC) and personal independence payment (PIP). This is due to the legal definition of a terminal illness which requires people to prove they would ‘reasonably be expected’ to die within six months.
Lorraine said: “The process of seeking to obtain benefits has continually exacerbated my stress levels and anxiety. I have had to constantly fight to get the same entitlement to benefits as other people who are terminally ill. Despite being diagnosed with a terminal illness I was refused fast track access to additional support and had to show that I was searching for work in order to receive universal credit.
Northern Ireland Law Centre has assisted Lorraine in bringing a judicial review. They argued that “the six month rule was introduced over 30 years ago and was intended to assist people in accessing special terminal illness rules, not restrict them. It is now hurting terminally ill people who have an illness that’s more difficult to accurately predict."
This month the High Court found that the terminal illness policy was applied in a discriminatory way and was therefore unlawful. This important decision would help not just Lorraine but many in her position across the UK.
“I wouldn’t wish my experience on anyone. I believe the system has failed me and the approach to dealing with people who have a terminal illness needs urgently addressed. I have accepted my path in life now but please don’t put anyone else through it.”