Helping vulnerable people gain access to justice

Clare Carter, Head of Development at the Access to Justice Foundation, discusses how the charity assists society's most vulnerable people, and explains how organising sponsored events and donating dormant client-account funds can further its work.

Supporting free legal advice is essential as it assists those that we recognise as being the most vulnerable – children in poverty, the homeless, elderly housebound people and disabled people. Very often the circumstances for the most vulnerable people reach a point where only the intervention of a lawyer or specialist caseworker can resolve the problems. Over the past few years, the need for that help has increased and the resources to provide the help have reduced. Recent funding cuts mean that those in welfare benefit and family disputes, people in need of help sorting debt demands and individuals who have housing problems cannot get the legal help that they need. Free legal advice centres try to bridge this gap by helping those who cannot afford a lawyer by providing solutions without charge. But this is a difficult task. Funding cuts and the time of austerity have done nothing to help the situation.

The Role of the Access to Justice Foundation

“We are the only national charity funder solely focused on supporting the provision of legal advice and representation. We work closely with all branches of the legal profession and regulatory bodies to raise awareness of the issues people face and how you can help us to help them.”

How you can help

Unclaimed Client Account Funds: It’s Not Just Peanuts

If a client cannot be traced, those client account funds can be donated to the Foundation upon written approval from CILEx Regulation. The Foundation provides an indemnity to ensure that there is no risk to the firm in the future if the client resurfaces.

The Access to Justice Foundation is encouraging Chartered Legal Executives to donate their dormant client account funds to the Foundation. On their own, the sums may seem minimal but collectively they can make a significant difference in supporting access to justice for those in need… hence, it’s not just peanuts!

Legal Support Trusts

The Legal Support Trusts raise funds primarily by organising sponsored events such as Legal Walks as well as participating in national fundraising events. This is only possible because of the generosity and support of all branches of the profession – and its regulators!  Last year the Trusts collectively raised over £1,000,000 for free legal advice services, helping enable access to justice nationwide.

You can find out more about the work of the Foundation and how you can get involved here or by contacting Clare Carter, Head of Development, at clarecarter@atjf.org.uk

Register here for the Great Legal Bake, 12-16 February 2018.


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