This is a guest post by the Intervene Project charity.
The legal charity Intervene Project is facing closure this summer without further funding.
The charity, which was set up by Kesar & Co Solicitors in 2013 and is based in south London, provides free legal advice for people in prison who have had their rights breached.
Now it’s looking for sponsorship opportunities from law firms, companies or individuals who have an interest in the rights of those in prison to prevent losing their only full-time employee, Sarah-Jane Hounsell, and a workforce of 25 volunteers working on a pro bono basis.
Kesar & Co Managing Director Mladen Kesar said: “Over the years, Intervene volunteers advised and represented thousands of prisoners and helped with a myriad of legal problems ranging from access to healthcare and disability adjustments to claims for return of property or compensation against Ministry of Justice UK and police.”
Intervene pursues investigations of allegedly abusive prison staff, improved prison conditions, healthcare, mental wellbeing, nutrition, education, and employment opportunities. The prisoners are often looking for a resolution to stop the abuse from happening or simply an apology and have donated to the charity themselves in the past in recognition for the work Intervene did to help them.
The charity was formed as a result of LASP0 2012, which dramatically cut prisoners’ access to legal aid in a multitude of matters. These cuts stripped prisoners of their access to justice and allowed abuse to occur daily, unchallenged, which has significantly increased the demand for the service. As it stands, Intervene has over 300 open cases, with a further 130 on the waiting list from across 80 different establishments UK-wide.
Project Manager Mrs Hounsell said: “Intervene has been very accommodating of my neuro-diverse qualities and is a charity I feel very passionate about.
“We have seen demand for legal advice and support grow daily for so many unethical issues which breach people’s fundamental human rights.
“So many law students are willing to help but without funding, the project will not be able to continue supporting the way it does.”
The work is not just legal, though, and the charity often gets calls from clients in emotional and physical distress who want someone to speak to. Indeed, Intervene has supported those who resort to self-harm and hunger strikes, as it the only form of control the prisoners feel they have when the feel their voice is not heard.
Not only has it given people in prison the opportunity to gain free legal advice and have their rights upheld, but it has also supported over 50 legal students this academic year gain their much-needed work experience to progress in their careers.
For the first time this summer, the charity has given students the opportunity of gaining qualifying work experience, which is necessary to qualify as a solicitor, and given out 24 vacation schemes.
Volunteer Salena Ahmad said: “I am so grateful for the opportunity that Intervene has provided me with, without which I was struggling to break into the legal profession.
“It has proved to be a really valuable experience, enabling the volunteers to deal with real problems prisoners are experiencing.”
This academic year, working for the charity has led to three students gain a training contract, three secure pupillage, six gain paralegal roles, two gain legal assistance roles and one secure a role of judicial clerk at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Nevertheless, without further funding the charity faces being scaled back to just one volunteer per day under the supervision of Mr Kesar, bringing most its operation to a close.
Intervene would be extremely grateful to meet with or discuss the project in more detail with anyone interested in sponsoring the charity. The charity can be contacted by ringing 020 8059 6369 or emailing [email protected].
Link to our website: Intervene Project