On the 10th of September 2019, we had the honour of taking part in the Brighton Legal Walk, a sponsored 10km around Brighton and Hove which raises money for agencies including Citizens Advice Brighton & Hove, Brighton Housing Trust, Possability People, and Money Advice Plus. All the agencies assisted provide much needed services in the community and positively affect peoples’ lives every day.
At the heart of the London Legal Support Trust (LLST), who organise these events, is the belief that “access to justice should be equally available to everyone, regardless of their financial situation”. This is tempered by the understanding that “in practice it is not the case”.
According to the Ministry of Justice, there were 870 not-for-profit legal aid providers in the period 2012/13.
Just 95 remained in 2013/14.
There are only 47 in 2019/20.
This plummet originally came from an estimated £100 million removed from these providers due to funding cuts across legal aid in part due to the LASPO reforms enacted in 2013, local government, and other funding changes. The MoJ reported that in the 2013/14 period, “the most common sources of funding for legal advice were local government and charitable sources”. When this level of funding was removed, many were simply unable to continue on.
With the cuts continuing to affect one of the most common funding sources for these providers, it’s of paramount importance that people come together to help them to continue with their work. According to the director of the Law Centres Network, Julie Bishop, “several more law centres [are] in a “precarious” state and likely to close soon”.
As part of seven Legal Support Trusts across England and Wales, the LLST aims to support legal advice agencies and law centres through grants, allowing access to justice, assistance, and advice. There are currently more than 12 Legal Walks which take place annually around the country, with the London Legal Walk being the largest of them all. Each of these looks to help provide access to justice and legal advice in their community, regardless of financial situation.
This year the Brighton Legal Walk broke all previous records, raising over £5,600 so far. With almost double the number of walkers this year to last, 140 people made up 26 teams who came together with the goal of raising much needed funds to support the work of these agencies.
The fundraising pages for the Legal Walk remain open for the next 3 months so we can keep adding to the total which will go towards providing legal advice and assistance to the most vulnerable individuals and families in our community.
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