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‘Take on 10k your way’ to support free legal advice charities trying to survive COVID-19
Rosa Coleman is an officer at the charity London Legal Support Trust, which runs Legal Walks across London and the South East, and shares how access to justice and legal aid is under threat, and what you can do to help.
As always in times of upheaval and change, it is the poorest, most vulnerable, and most marginalised in our society who suffer the most. In the case of coronavirus, this remains true. There are frontline free legal advice charities working hard to support them in these difficult times, and those charities need your help.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown, legal advice charities have been struggling. Already battered by deep budget cuts and austerity measures over the past several years, many are impacted in their ability to continue to support those in need.
The ‘Justice Gap’
People are facing unprecedented need in the areas of debt, employment, benefits, accessing universal credit and more. Many of them have never had to navigate these problems before. Add to this the issue of the ‘Justice Gap’ - the income level where people earn too much to be eligible for legal aid, but still cannot afford to pay for legal advice without falling into poverty, and the need is apparent.
300 calls a day
Not being able to see clients in person as they usually would, often means that agencies are unable to earn Legal Aid. At the same time, the increase in demand means that they have not been able to furlough their staff. One agency in London reports an average of 300 calls per day for advice.
The government has provided £5.4M in funding to support the legal advice sector. This does not mean the work is done. Eventually, once government measures around Covid-19 are lifted, advice organisations fear they “will face a tsunami when protections are lifted.” We must be there to support them once emergency funding programs run out. If they are to continue providing a vital lifeline to their communities, they need more than stopgap funding.
While we have all felt the effects of the pandemic in various ways, those of us who have been lucky enough to remain financially stable must now do all we can to support those who have not been so fortunate. This year’s London Legal Walk is more important than ever.
The London Legal Walk in 2020
This annual fundraiser provides much needed funding for the free legal advice sector, and this year, London Legal Support Trust hope that they can inspire supporters to come together in this time of greatest need, albeit in a different way to the traditional Walk. Many have already stepped up for the virtual 10,000 Steps for Justice event, and virtual Great Legal Quizzes in May and June.
10xChallenge on Monday 5 October
On Monday 5 October the London Legal Support Trust is hosting the London Legal Walk 10xChallenge. They invite participants to ‘take on 10k your way’, whether that's walking, running, cycling, skipping, roller skating, swimming or space-hopping your way to 10km.
You can also showcase your skills by taking on a challenge to a multiple of 10, whether that’s baking 10 cakes, writing 10 poems, or 100 minutes of your favourite exercise class. Creativity is encouraged!
For more information and to sign up, visit the London Legal Walk 10xChallenge.
Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.
Read our 2018 blog by Laura Bee: Pro bono – good for the community, good for lawyers too
Read founder and head of fundraising at the London Legal Support Trust Bob Nightingale's blog: How to fundraise for a Legal Walk: Six top tips