Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards Ceremony | Free ‘Benefits Self Defence Training’ 30th and 31st July | So much need for Employment Legal Advice: we now offer a second day per month | ‘Blatantly discriminatory’ PIP amendment cost £3.6bn and years of unnecessary suffering | The government has created a “hostile environment” for disabled people, new research shows | Legal Aid to be reinstated for separated and unaccompanied migrant children
Legal Aid Lawyers of the Year Awards Ceremony
Arwa Graf with our LALY 2018 nomination certificate
On 17 July 2018 the best and brightest in legal aid gathered in central London for the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards hosted by the Legal Aid Practitioners Group. The event was a wonderful celebration of the incredible legal aid work being done by lawyers, firms, chambers and charities up and down the country. Representing the GMLC at the awards were three of our fantastic volunteers – frontline/reception volunteers Arwa Graf and Charlotte Allen, and campaigns and fundraising volunteer Sarah Donohoe. You can read Arwa’s report from the ceremony below.
We at the Greater Manchester Law Centre were honoured to be shortlisted in the Legal Aid firm/Not-for-profit category. We would like to extend our hearty congratulations to eventual and much deserved winners, Ealing Law Centre. It is a privilege and inspiration to work alongside law centres like Ealing. This award highlights the growing network of strong and active law centres across the country, uniting as a powerful voice in the continuing fight for free access to justice.
Although we didn’t win, being shortlisted was testament to of all our wonderful staff and volunteers whose hard work and commitment has been the foundation of the GMLC’s incredible growth since launching only a year ago. To be recognised as leaders in legal aid so early in our journey is an incredible achievement, giving us even more reasons to be excited about what we can achieve in the future.
We would also like thank Bidwell Henderson for the generous goodybags they provided for attendees. You can guarantee the chocolates and wine were well received!
Arwa says: “The Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards – the Oscars of legal aid! As a volunteer with the GMLC since the beginning, I felt much pride and joy being nominated for the incredibly prestigious Legal Aid Firm/Not-for-profit award knowing we only launched a year ago.
It was an experience my colleagues and I are sure to never forget. That night we were amongst the most talented and incredible people in the legal aid profession. And to think, we were fortunate enough to be nominated alongside them! Our work fighting for access to justice never ends – but at the LALY’s we were, for once, CELEBRATING access to justice. Every nominee had their own incredible and inspiring story to tell, but they all had one thing in common – passion and hope for a much brighter future.
The Greater Manchester Law Centre was built by people who fought to ensure that access to free, face-to-face legal advice was available for all. I am incredibly proud of all we have achieved and grateful so many people stood by and supported our efforts. Thank you to all our friends and supporters. We couldn’t have done it without you!”
Volunteers Sarah Donohoe and Charlotte Allen at the LALY 2018 Award ceremony in London
Free ‘Benefits Self Defence Training’ 30th and 31st July
We are delighted to be a part of a two-day Benefits Self Defence Training organised by the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People.
Monday 30th & Tuesday 31st July 11am-4pm at the Windrush Millennium Centre, M16 7WD.
This FREE event is open to disabled people who will learn skills and tools to assist themselves or others through the benefits system regarding ESA, PIP and Universal Credit.
Register to avoid disappointment: click here.
So much need for Employment Legal Advice
We are offering now a second day each month for our Employment Legal Advice Clinic
Since March 2017 Jo Seery has been advising people in Greater Manchester on employment contracts, holiday entitlement, discrimination and harassment, maternity and paternity leave, dismissal and redundancies at GMLC.
Now, in addition to Jo’s clinics every first Friday of each month we are delighted to welcome Robert Lassey, who will be volunteering his services. Rob is an employment barrister at Kenworthy’s and will be providing 30 minute employment advice sessions on the first Monday of each month, from 1-4 pm.
Both clinics are free.
If you or anybody you know needs help, plesae call 0161 769 2244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
Please note, we always encourage people to join a Trade Union.
‘Blatantly discriminatory’ PIP amendment has £3.6bn and 2.5 years of unnecessary suffering for claimants
GMLC volunteer Thomas Wood looks at the origins of PIP, the 2017 amendment that excluded claimants impaired by psychological distress, and the recent legal challenge that found this guidance ‘blatantly discriminatory’. Read his full article here.
“In March 2017, the government amended the legislation to exclude claimants impaired by psychological distress from qualifying under the enhanced rate of entitlement.
“In December 2017, this amendment was contested by an anonymous claimant, the charity MIND, and The Equality and Human Rights Commission. The judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, deemed it discriminatory: violating Article 14 of the EHCR, outside the scope of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, and unlawfully rushed through without consultation.
“In January 2018, the government decided not to appeal this decision and announced a review of 1.6m PIP claims.
“The process is estimated to cost around £3.7bn. It will take several years to complete. If these claimants had initially been successful, the cost of funding would have come to just under £1bn.”
The government has created a “hostile environment” for disabled people, new research shows
“Instead of creating such a hostile environment for those who are disabled, and assuming everyone is trying to cheat the system, ministers urgently need to recognise the reality of people’s disabilities and illnesses and give them the support they deserve”
This damning but insightful research by Z2K shows that, if the current assessment review process for disability benefits cannot be radically improved, then it should be scrapped.
Read our summary of how this research relates to our own work here.
Legal Aid to be reinstated for separated and unaccompanied migrant children
A long-running campaign led by The Children’s Society to secure legal aid for vulnerable migrant children has prompted a major U-turn by the Government.
Vulnerable migrant children who are in the UK alone have been facing a punishing combination of cuts to legal aid and skyrocketing Home Office application fees since 2013. After a five-year long legal challenge, the Government has agreed to reinstate legal aid for separated and unaccompanied children in their non-asylum immigration cases.
There is still a long way to go and many other areas in which Legal Aid is desperately needed, but this is an important change in policy which will go a long way to protecting some of the most marginalised in our communities.
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