Law Centres Network sets £250,000 funding target to help 14,000 families overcome the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Today the Law Centres Network is appealing for £250,000 to form a fund that would supply Crisis Navigators to local Law Centres, to help them assist an unprecedented number of people who have fallen into hardship.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Law Centres have been overrun with demand for legal advice as millions of unsuspecting Britons fall into the ‘justice gap’ – unable to afford a lawyer to solve legal problems without getting into serious financial difficulty.

By their nature, people’s legal problems arise out of other challenges or alongside them, such as managing household debt, applying for national and local benefits and accessing other forms of support to help them through adversity.

Julie Bishop, director of the Law Centres Network, said:

“We’ve experienced a huge increase in calls to Law Centres over the pandemic. However, many of these calls are coming from vulnerable people in crisis, who are at a loss as to accessing the vital support they need to get by.”

In response, Law Centres Network – UK Law Centres’ membership body – is appealing to the private sector to help fund the equivalent of 40 full-time Crisis Navigators to extend Law Centres’ capacity to assist people in need.

Crisis Navigators are non-lawyer link workers who complement Law Centres’ legal assistance, taking care of non-legal trigger problems, ensuring service continuity for clients and unlocking access to more assistance for clients as needed.

Vicky Fewkes, director of Ealing Law Centre, said:

“Our Crisis Navigator has been a lifeline for our Centre and has helped hundreds of people navigate the benefits system and get their lives back on track. Crisis Navigators free our lawyers to focus on legal work.”

For the past year, Ealing and South West London Law Centres pioneered crisis navigation in their practices, helping people in desperate need access over £1m in financial assistance.

Many tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs in spite of the Furlough Scheme or are still at risk of losing them in coming weeks. Law Centres are anticipating a Winter surge in demand for their help, as more households now struggle to keep fed, warm and housed.

Rebecca Perlman of City law firm Herbert Smith Freehills said:

“As a profession it is our duty to ensure equality before the law and without Law Centres across the country this would be impossible.  We’re proud to help fund Crisis Navigators to help more people to access support when they need it.”

 For more information on how to contribute to the Fund please follow this link.