The Law Centre’s main objectives are to provide quality legal advice and representation to poor, vulnerable and excluded members of society, where possible.
Unfortunately, due to the abolition of Legal Aid in April 2013 for many areas of Social Welfare Law, we obtained permission from the Charities Commission and Solicitors Regulation Authority to charge for some services no longer covered by Legal Aid. We remain a Not-for-Profit organisation and any income generated by fees goes towards the core costs of keeping the Law Centre open for the benefit of the community. The fees we do charge for some services are very low.
Law Centres are unique community organisations and were to set up to overcome the difficulties faced by people who need access to the legal system. Free, publicly provided legal advice should be available to everyone, not just to those with financial resources or those that can get legal aid because of their low income. There are many areas of law where legal aid is not available. This means that even in areas where fundamental rights are disputed there is no access to the legal system.
The first Law Centre in Hillingdon was set up in 1975. The organisation now owns its own building and employs seven staff – four full-time caseworkers, one part-time caseworker, one part-time administrator and a full time legal assistant. The Centre has successfully obtained contracts from the Legal Services Commission in Housing Law and we also have the contract to run the housing law advice desk scheme at Uxbridge County Court on days there are possession hearings.
The Centre is now funded by grants from Hillingdon Community Trust, AB Charitable Trust and Trust for London. Funders undertake periodic evaluation of the grants that they give. All funders are concerned with ensuring the best value achievable for their money. We are always applying for grants but competition is fierce at the moment as a lot of cuts have been made to organisations that provide advice and there is less money available. We are always looking for people to help us with fundraising or to arrange fundraising events. If you are interested please contact us.
The Law Centre probably has the largest catchment area in the country – the residential population of Hillingdon is 273,900, Ealing is 338,000 Hounslow is 254,000 and of Harrow it is 239,100,000 (figures based on 2011 census). The Centre also acts for people who live in Slough where there is very little provision for free legal advice and the population is approximately 155,000.
We are always happy to receive donations and our staff participate in a yearly sponsored walk and other fundraising events organised by the London Legal Support Trust to raise money for the centre. If you wish to make a donation please send a cheque to the administrator made payable to Hillingdon Law Centre.
How we work:
- Staff have a high level of individual responsibility for the quality and effectiveness of their own work, as the Centre is managed collectively on a day to day basis. All staff are expected to attend the monthly staff meetings to exercise this management role. Volunteers are expected to show a certain level of commitment.
- Relationships in the Centre and with clients are informal and not based on traditional hierarchies. There is no dress code within the Centre.
- There are opportunities for further study and the Centre encourages its staff/volunteers to take an interest in new developments in the Law.
- There is flexibility over time off, which is arranged by mutual consent.
The final management responsibility, the policies and the strategic planning of the Centre are in the hands of a Management Committee, which holds full meetings every month as well as regular meetings of its sub-committees.
The Management Committee comprises representatives of local organisations and members of the community with relevant skills and interests in our work. Staff report on their work to the Management Committee on a regular basis and attendance at their evening meeting is expected from time to time. Directors on the Management Committee are unpaid volunteers.
Volunteers play an important, integral role in the running of the Law Centre in the following capacities:
- Members of the Management Committee
- Volunteer reception/administration/clerical workers
- Volunteers who help caseworkers
- Volunteer solicitors who give free advice at our advice sessions
Without volunteers the Centre would not be able to function and their importance cannot be under estimated.
We are a member of the Law Centres Network. “The Law Centres Network encourages the development of publicly funded legal services for those most disadvantaged in society and promotes the Law Centre model as the best means of achieving this”.