Sue James, head of the Legal Action Group, on the current situation with access to justice
Greater Manchester Law Centre on free advice and representation in the North West
Afzal Khan MP, Shadow Minister for Legal Aid (TBC)
Speaker on Long Covid and the gap in legal rights (TBC)
Greater Manchester Law Centre (GMLC) invites you to join us at a public meeting to discuss how we can support individuals and communities across Greater Manchester and the North West to access legal advice to overcome the issues they face in their day-to-day lives. The event will take place on Thursday 19th May at 6pm at Thompsons Offices on Central Manchester.
As the pandemic unwinds, people are faced with long-standing issues that in many cases have been compounded by the economic and social impact of the last two years. Advice agencies are seeing issues of rent arrears and evictions, family breakdown, insecure employment, long-term health issues arising from long-covid and a justice system that is buckling under the pressure. This is without the impact of the rise in the cost of living, benefit cuts and the reduction in community support available as Covid response funds reduce.
People will need to ensure they can enforce their rights to protect their jobs, families, homes and incomes. Access to justice in the North West is haphazard a best and is dependent on over-stretched community advice agencies, a fractured pro-bono network and a broken legal aid system.
It is not all doom and gloom: the community response to the pandemic showed how when people come together they can develop new networks and support systems to support the most vulnerable. We are keen to build on the outreach, community support and remote working models developed and link this to face-to-face and community based advice to expand access to justice.
GMLC and Citizens Advice North Lancashire have supported over 6,000 individuals in the court system in the past year or so, and will present our findings on these cases and how we can work together to ensure free access of justice to all.
We are keen to support and re-establish pro-bono networks to allow access to specialist advice to those most in need; but as importantly, to develop the evidence base to ensure longer-term policy change and support for legal aid and free advice services. We are keen to ensure that the need for Covid related legislation and access to advice are addressed within the upcoming Covid Enquiry. We are working with other Law Centres to ensure this – you can join in this work.
Campaigning for justice: for stronger protection for tenants, for better employment rights for those affected by Covid, for a better benefits system and the right to food are needed now; but as importantly the access to justice and support to enforce these rights.
If we come together, politicians and policy makers, lawyers and communities we can make this happen. Join us on the 19th May.