My charity of the month for June is the Law Centres Federation, which may not be an organisation you have ever heard of. However no doubt you will have heard of Law Centres. Some of you may have used one. The Law Centres Federation is the organisation which supports and promotes them.
Law Centres are set up to provide legal help to those who cannot afford to use professional lawyers. They tend to specialise in work such as welfare, housing, family law, and human rights. The sorts of things that ‘standard’ firms of solicitors generally do not cover.
Law centres are always on the edge of financial disaster, even those which have the support of wealthy city law firms. Several have had to close in recent years, which means that there is no longer anyone around to help those in need of legal assistance in their areas.
Providing legal help does not sound very important to many people, who often prefer to support charities for health issues, children, animals and the environment. However being able to get justice thorugh the courts is, or should be, a fundamental human right. So often the things that lawyers help people with are of huge importance in their lives. A living wage. Protection from a violent partner. Fighting for decent housing. And challenging injustice generally.
I fear for the law centres in the current economic climate, and feel sure that supporting legal aid (which is where law centres get most of their funding) and legal charities generally are going to be way down the importance list for a government keen to make cuts. So I hope that any of you who have the opportunity, will support and speak up for your local law centre, and do what you can to keep it open. Justice for all is an important plank of our civilization. We should fight for it.
You can find out how you can get involved >> here.