This week South West London Law Centres held our first Picnic for Justice. We came together to celebrate the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 which had its 73 anniversary on 30 July.
The Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949 gave access to free legal advice to people who might otherwise be unable to afford it. Law centres were able to exist because of the act and the provision for free legal advice. One of the first law centres was North Kensington Law Centre which opened its doors in 1970 and their website says:
After us, many other Law Centres opened in London and beyond and we are proud of our roots within the Law Centre movement. The Law Centres Network still helps to ensure the quality of our work.
The South West London Law Centres are a group of law centres that joined together in 2004. The law centres were Battersea, Croydon, Kingston and Tooting. The first south west London law centre was founded in 1974. With nearly 50 years of history within an act that celebrated its 73rd anniversary and has allowed 1000s of people to access justice we knew we had to celebrate.
We held our picnic at Park Hill Park in Croydon which has a history of social organising and is opposite Croydon law courts. We were honoured to be joined by colleagues from the law centre movement and community activists to celebrate everyone who stands up for justice in our community. We hope that this will be the first in many celebrations of everyone who stands up for justice.
Over the decades legal aid has been restricted – Jordan Briggs goes into details in this blog about what he sees this retrictions in the sector to be A brief history of legal aid – Legal Cheek. Law centres have gone from 60 to 39 and we are extremely proud to be a surviving law centre standing up for justice with our community.
I know that it is not legal advice alone that achieves justice, the ‘client’ is the real person standing up for justice I hope we can develop these picnics together in solidarity.