Why we campaign

From the beginning, we have been more than a Law Centre. We started as a campaign for access to justice.

First, we demand funding and support for all who need legal advice and representation.

You can read more about the effects of Legal Aid cuts and ways to fight them here. We have never aspired merely to plug the gaps left by government funding cuts, which is why we demand the restoration of Legal Aid.

We are also fighting for a new generation of social welfare lawyers. Again, we demand the restoration of legal aid, including paid, not just voluntary lawyers.

Second, we are fighting together to change government housing and welfare  policies.

This means challenging injustices in the legislation, and in housing and welfare policy itself. Our volunteers on the frontline of our services see the hardship faced by the vulnerable in our community, and we campaign so that we can use this experience to enact real change through strategic litigation.

  • In practice, this means ensuring our elected representatives keep Legal Aid on the political agenda.
  • It means calling on the rest of the legal sector to support us in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.
  • It means creating innovative ways of funding our survival.
  • It means building a sustainable volunteer base, because we are run by and for our community.
  • It means producing hard-hitting commentary on topical issues.
  • It means putting our campaigning weight behind legal challenges to unfair policy and legislation.
  • It means working with similar organisations to maximise our shared impact.

 

GMLC opening - march with banners

March for free access to justice, February 2017, and visit of Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor, to GMLC.

Our Active Campaigns

Income Maximisation

There have been over 2 million new Universal Credit claims since March 2020 and we estimate that there have been over 100,000 job losses across Greater Manchester as a result of Covid-19.  The adverse effects of the pandemic will be felt by our communities over next few months at least, and potentially far longer. GMLC is committed to assisting those that are struggling. We wish to ensure residents have immediate support through the specific Covid-19 programs available but as importantly ensure that individuals and families can access the income they are entitled to through our welfare rights take up campaign. The benefits system is daunting at the best of times, with many people and families trying to navigate this for the first time.

Click on the link on the right for more information and news about this campaign.

income max link
greater manchester against evictions campaign link

Greater Manchester Against Evictions

Formerly called ‘Everybody Out?’, our Greater Manchester Against Evictions campaign focuses on access to safe and secure housing for all, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. GMLC believes that everyone should be protected from homelessness, irrespective of their immigration status. We have taken action with tenants’ unions and homelessness organisations to campaign against illegal and unfair evictions, and continue to fight for a home for everyone.

Click on the picture on the left for more information and news about this campaign.

Legal Aid Landscape: Access to Justice

Legal disputes are not abstract. They affect our homes, our families, our treatment as employees and more. They affect our very survival, for example when we fight for the rights of those claiming welfare benefits.

An effective legal system is the cornerstone of a free society. Legal Aid is not as visible as a system such as the National Health Service, but the right to justice is as important as a right to health or a right to education. First, the justice system needs to be accessible so that people can recognise when a dispute has a legal dimension. Otherwise, they can’t use the tools available to them to resolve it. Second, people must not be denied a fair footing because of a lack of resources to access advice and representation. Quite simply, no access to justice means no justice.

Click on the picture on the right for more information and news about this campaign.

access to justice link

For Better Employment Rights

In 2021, GMLC set up an Employment Advice service to give people advice about their rights at work and to support litigants in person attempting to navigate the employment tribunal system without representation. However, the package of legal rights on offer to UK employees is minimal, with many rights only starting after 2 years’ service. Even where a claim may be possible to make for lost wages or discrimination, employment tribunals have such a large backlog that it can be years before many cases are heard.

Legal solutions are not enough to ensure workers are safe from unfair treatment in work. We need to fight for better pay and working conditions, better employment rights, and better access to justice to enforce them. GMLC strongly encourages all employees to join a trade union to campaign and fight collectively for improvements to conditions.

Click on the picture on the left for more information and news about this campaign.

Recent GMLC Campaigns News

Inquests – a short guide for bereaved families

We have produced this guide because we are concerned about the rising number of homeless deaths in the UK and want to offer support and information to bereaved families who…

“I can’t believe how badly I was treated” – results and recommendations from GMLC’s Long Covid and Work survey

Kate Bradley, Campaigns Officer at GMLC, discusses the results of our Long Covid and Work survey of 81 people suffering with Long Covid, and outlines recommendations for employers, employees and…

GMLC’s housing work on the cover of Law Society Messenger

  Following Kathleen Cosgrove’s win at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2021, the Manchester Law Society Messenger has run a version of our housing law and campaigns…

GMLC’s Kathy Cosgrove wins Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award

As our housing lawyer Kathy Cosgrove wins a LALY Award, we recap GMLC’s recent housing casework and campaigns. This month, we’re delighted to say that our housing solicitor Kathy Cosgrove…

Citizens Advice survey on those moving from legacy benefits to Universal Credit

Citizens Advice is doing some research to understand people’s experiences of moving from legacy benefits (such as Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, and Working and…

Barriers to social justice law: the need for structural change

After attending Young Legal Aid Lawyers’ event ‘State of Play for Legal Aid’, GMLC campaign volunteer Leyya Kitmitto writes about the state of the legal profession for aspiring social justice…

‘Grounds for eviction?’: social housing evictions after Covid

Following the end of the ‘evictions ban’, we did some research into the social housing sector in Greater Manchester. In this article, we evaluate Social Housing Providers’ responses to our…

No Justice No Peace – 14 June 2021, 18:00 – 19:30

On the fourth anniversary of the devastating fire that killed 72 residents of Grenfell Tower, Bolton Trades Council and Greater Manchester Law Centre brings together four campaigns that have suffered…