Overcoming Obstacles to Provide Free Legal Advice: The South West London Law Centres

The South West London Law Centre (SWLLC) is proud of the impact we have made in our community by providing free legal advice to those in need. Last year alone, , we helped 6,664 people access justice. Behind every number is an individual story of need, Our casework teams undertook casework and represented people in court. We are proud that through our volunteer lawyers we gave £1.5 million of free legal advice to people. This all meant that people kept their homes, kept their jobs, stayed out of debt, achieved settled status, and avoided persecution.

Despite the challenges we face, we remain committed to our mission, and our recent annual meeting was a testament to our dedication to the cause. We were honored to have Sarah Jones MP – Croydon Central (Shadow Minister for Police and Fire Service) as our guest speaker at our Annual General Meeting, who praised our work and emphasized the importance of our services in the community. She spoke about the need for a robust system of funding that offers long-term stability to the legal advice sector to ensure that people have access to justice.

Our CEO, Patrick Marples, highlighted the overwhelming demand for our services due to years of austerity economics, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, the COVID-19 pandemic, the hostile environment for migrants, and the current cost of living crisis. He expressed concern that Croydon’s recent 15% Council Tax hike will further exacerbate the problem. Despite these challenges, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing free legal advice to those in need.

However, we are disappointed to face a funding shortage after years of navigating through various crises and but we continue to be grateful to all our funders and supporters for their ongoing support and commitment. . However the continued stagnation of legal aid, now worth less than 50% than 10 years ago and recent cuts from the Money and Pension Service amongst others make it all the more difficult to operate, but we are determined to continue providing free legal advice to those in need.

If you need legal advice but cannot afford the high rates of solicitors, please contact us. We appreciate any donations to support us and the people we help.