Since launching on 12th May, the Community Justice Fund has distributed over £1,897,448 in grants to specialist legal advice charities across the UK, it was announced today (Wednesday 24th June).

The Community Justice Fund was set up by the Access to Justice Foundation and five other leading social justice funders to help not-for-profit legal advice organisations be effective and sustainable in the face of responding to COVID-19.

Grants of between £10,000 – £75,000 have been awarded to 35 charities supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable people across the UK, in areas such as: disability, employment, housing, immigration women’s rights, benefits, debt and welfare. The grants awarded will provide flexible support so that organisations can respond to challenges faced by the current pandemic in ways that they feel best meets their needs but for which they do not currently have the funds.

Charities that have been awarded grants include: Child Poverty Action Group, Disability Law Service, Brighton Housing Trust (BHT), Welsh Housing Aid (trading as Shelter Cymru), Mary Ward Legal Centre, JustRight Scotland, Just for Kids Law, Norfolk Community Law Service Ltd (NCLS), Advice on Individual Rights in Europe Ltd (The AIRE Centre) and Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA).

“We have tried to make the application process as straightforward and streamlined as possible to provide the vital financial support that the not-for-profit legal advice sector needs as quickly as possible”, said Ruth Daniel, CEO of the Access to Justice Foundation. “We are working hard to issue multiple grants every week and strongly encourage applications from specialist legal advice charities across the UK who need urgent and flexible financial assistance to stay open and sustainable at this time of crisis.”

Grantees

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT)

BHT is a charity that provides accommodation, support, and advice to homeless, insecurely housed and vulnerable people in Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Hastings. Their mission is to empower disadvantaged people to make positive changes in their lives and their community. A grant of £72,000 has been awarded to BHT to ensure they can remain open and continue to deliver specialist advice during and after the pandemic. The grant will also secure the financial position of their Advice Services in the current situation and ensure they are ready to meet anticipated increased demand.

Welsh Housing Aid (trading as Shelter Cymru)

Shelter Cymru provides independent specialist advice, advocacy, and legal representation for anyone with housing problems. Last year, their advisers provided face-to-face help for nearly 16,000 people from all over Wales, helping to prevent homelessness in 86 per cent of cases where it was threatened. The grant of £75,000 will help to mitigate loss of income since 1st April and keep services at full capacity so people in Wales have access to specialist housing advice and legal representation and cope with the expected increase in demand due to the impacts of COVID-19.

JustRight Scotland

JustRight Scotland are Scotland’s legal centre for justice and human rights. They collaborate with partners to reduce inequality and discrimination, and help others use the law as a tool to achieve social justice. The Community Justice Fund grant of £50,000 will help to: replace lost capacity for earned income and unsecured funding as a result of the COVID-19 crisis; increase capacity to deliver remote legal advice; increase their legal outreach surgeries and second-tier advice to frontline professionals; and increase digital information resources to ensure that even in lockdown, people who are vulnerable and at risk of abuse, have safe access to reliable information about their legal rights and pathways to safety and support.

Youth Legal and Resource Centre

Youth Legal and Resource Centre helps vulnerable, marginalized young people and destitute children and families by providing free specialist legal advice in homelessness and community care law focusing on those with disabilities, care leavers and carers in a youth friendly environment using a holistic approach, improving young people’s life chances and preventing crises. The flexible funding of £25,000 will replace the loss of Legal Aid profit costs income from the drop in legal help aid cases and keep them viable through the downturn in work to enable them to grow and take on the challenges facing them in the future.

Ethnic Minorities Law Centre (EMLC)

EMLC is a free independent legal service, which aims to provide access to justice for black and minority ethnic communities by offering bi-lingual and culturally sensitive legal advice, assistance and representation in the following specialised areas: Immigration and Nationality; Asylum, Refugee and Human Rights; Employment and Discrimination. The Community Justice Fund grant of £40,000 will help EMLC to upgrade its website to a fully interactive service website to assist with the large amount of enquiries it receives, as well as purchase IT equipment and an upgraded cloud phone system to allow a more accessible legal services to clients and gain back some of the lost income through fees and Legal Aid.

Citizen’s Advice Gateshead

Citizens Advice Gateshead provides free, impartial, confidential advice and information as a member of the Citizens Advice network of local charities. They support over 12,000 people each year through their advice hub in central Gateshead and an increasing number of drop-in hubs across Gateshead borough, and thousands more through telephone and drop-in services. The £65,000 grant will help support an increase in staff to cope with an expected surge in demand in areas such as housing and welfare, as well as IT equipment for remote working to keep doors virtually open for clients.

The Community Justice Fund is a joint initiative between Advice UK, Law Centres Network and Citizens Advice and a group of independent funders (the AB Charitable Trust, Access to Justice Foundation, Indigo Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Legal Education Foundation and Therium Access). It is hosted by The Access to Justice Foundation.

For further information on the Community Justice Fund, to donate, or apply for a grant, visit www.communityjusticefund.org.uk


List of grantees to date

Child Poverty Action Group | £75,000

Disability Law Service | £75,000

Brighton Housing Trust | £72,000

Welsh Housing Aid (trading as Shelter Cymru) | £75,000

Mary Ward Legal Centre | £75,000

JustRight Scotland | £50,000

Just for Kids Law | £30,000

Norfolk Community Law Service Ltd (NCLS) | £43,000

Advice on Individual Rights in Europe Ltd (The AIRE Centre) | £35,000

Independent Provider of Special Education Advice (IPSEA) | £71,396

Legal Advice Centre (University House) | £50,000

Hastings Advice and Representation Centre (HARC) | £57,000

Youth Legal and Resource Centre | £25,000

Ethnic Minorities Law Centre (EMLC) | £40,000

Riverside Advice Ltd | £50,420

Community Law Service (Northampton & County) | £75,000

Citizens Advice Gateshead |£65,000

Release | £63,975

Greenwich Housing Rights | £75,000

Centre for Women’s Justice | £30,000

Community Advice and Law Service | £65,000

New Forest Disability Information Service | £20,000

Fusion Housing Kirklees Limited  | £67,719

Free Representation Unit | £75,000

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit | £75,000

Working Families | £65,000

Cardinal Hume Centre | £71,200

Southampton Advice & Representation Centre LTD | £11,500

Disability Advice Service Lambeth | £24,542

Citizens Advice Barnet | £54,000

Asylum Support Appeals Project | £55,000

Advice4Renters | £52,500

C.A.B. Devon (operating as Citizens Advice Devon) | £73,196

Middlesbrough CAB | £35,000