Why Access to Justice week matters so much

PUBLISHED: 21:09 23 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:32 24 February 2020

Jane Basham

Jane Basham


February 24 to Febraury 28 marks Access to Justice week. Here Jane Basham, the new chief executive officer of Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS) explains why it’s important

Tucked away in a corner of Norwich, Norfolk Community Law Service shares a suite of offices, crammed with a small team of staff and volunteers. The phones do not stop. On Tuesdays and Fridays when we run our Free Legal Advice service on Employment, Family and General issues there's always a queue of people. Some turn up an hour before the office opens, desperate for help. Many have tried other advice agencies. We are their last chance.

During the week our specialist Welfare Rights team spend time with people with serious life limiting disabilities, helping them prepare for the degrading experience of a Personal Independent Payment Appeal Tribunal. People plunged deeper into poverty because of extensive Court delays.

Our expert debt case workers reassure people who have fallen into debt through redundancy, ill health or an unlucky roll of the dice. We will write back to the 20 creditors, get the bailiffs off their backs giving them breathing space and help them decide how to get rid of and/or manage their debt.

Vulnerable women who have fled domestic abuse sit with our experienced Immigration advisers. We secure them the right to stay here for a while, which opens the door to a place in a refuge and freedom from their abuser.

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Our Family Court Support Service community volunteers greet and reassure anxious parents facing a complex legal fight for access to their children in the Family Court.

A parent for whom no legal representation is available, and even if it were, it would be unaffordable.

Access to Justice is not wigs and gowns, fat cat lawyers, compensation culture or the rights of undeserving others.

"Justice cannot be for one side alone but must be for both," said Eleanor Roosevelt.

Happy 'Access to Justice' week. We are here if you need us.

Contact Norfolk Community Law Service or on 01603 496623

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