July 15, 2020
An initiative will launch in summer 2020 aiming to ensure that people who use the UK immigration system can access justice and thrive.
Justice Together is a unique collaboration by independent funders. It will invest in free legal advice and national policy advocacy to support the lawful and fair functioning of immigration, nationality and asylum processes.
Over the next five years, more than £8 million of new funding has been committed by founding funders with others likely to join.
The initiative responds to the challenges faced by the legal advice sector, and evidence that people in communities around the UK are struggling to access justice. Justice Together will help people access legal advice and representation, strengthen sector organisations over the long term, and coordinate to achieve wider improvements so that advice is accessible, effective and sustainably resourced. As well as offering funding, the initiative will support partners to improve the power and influence of people who use the system.
Justice Together aims to operate for a decade. Funding will target particular regions and areas of need, to be decided based on mapping, further research and consultation with stakeholders.
Funders recognise that this initiative cannot fill the gap left by the removal of public funding. However, trusts and foundations provide vital independent resource for legal advice and representation on immigration, nationality and asylum law. Justice Together is rooted in the belief that a better coordinated and more strategic approach will help address these systemic challenges in partnership with the non-profit sector.
We are delighted that Hazel Williams has been appointed to lead the initiative, working with the legal and migration sectors, with directly affected communities, and with the contributing funders to develop the strategy and operating model, build relationships and an evidence and learning approach. Hazel is currently National Director at NACCOM, a membership organisation working to tackle migrant destitution, and was previously Director of the Asylum Support Appeals Project. She is Chair of Metropolitan Migration Foundation and a Trustee of the North of England Refugee Service. Hazel will take up this role in August and we are now recruiting the rest of the team. More information on the recruitment can be found here.
Justice Together is hosted by Justice Collaborations, a registered charity and subsidiary of The Legal Education Foundation. Further details of the geographical focus, the funding opportunities and the detailed timeframe for applications will be announced in the coming months.
Contributing funders include: Paul Hamlyn Foundation, AB Charitable Trust, Baring Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Comic Relief, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Oak Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy, and Trust for London. Tudor Trust have made an aligned contribution.
July 13, 2020
Justice First Fellow Siobhan Taylor-Ward, an asylum and housing lawyer at Merseyside Law Centre, has been named at Newcomer of the Year at the prestigious Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards.
Siobhan is the first JFF graduate to win a LALY award, since the fellowship scheme was launched in 2014.
TLEF chief executive Matthew Smerdon said:
'My TLEF colleagues and I could not be more delighted for Siobhan, and for the fellowship scheme. She is a fantastic asset to the fellowship and to the legal profession and she really deserves this recognition from her peers. Our ambition for the scheme was to attract and retain highly motivated, highly skilled lawyers, who would have a pivotal role in ensuring individuals, families and communities can secure access to justice. Siobhan is one of 52 fellows who have now graduated from the scheme and I congratulate all of them on what they are achieving in the pursuit of social justice.'
Siobhan started her legal training at Greater Manchester Law Centre, before transferring to Merseyside, which was closer to her home. She qualified as a solicitor earlier this year, and was presented with her JFF graduation certificate by former president of the Supreme Court Lady Hale, at a ceremony in central London.
Siobhan is an active member and former vice chair of Young Legal Aid Lawyers, where she led on YLAL's work to increase diversity and social mobility in the legal profession.
The LALY judges described her as 'a dedicated social welfare lawyer and dogged campaigner for justice in the broadest sense.' Jenny Beck, co-chair of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, which organises the LALY awards, said: 'I am so proud to have Siobhan as a member of my profession. We are lucky to have her. She never seeks the limelight for herself, but always seeks justice for her clients. The warmth, respect, and admiration that her Young Legal Aid Lawyer and Justice First Fellow colleagues feel towards Siobhan absolutely shone through her nomination.'
The winner of the Outstanding Achievement LALY award was housing solicitor Mike McIlvaney, partner and founder of Birmingham-based Community Law Project. During his acceptance speech, Mike spoke of the recruitment difficulties facing the legal aid sector, and welcomed TLEF's funding of CLP's first Justice First Fellow, who recently took up their post at the firm.
Other TLEF grantees named among the finalists at this year's LALY ceremony, which was staged virtually due to Covid-19, included Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (solicitor Julian Bild was a runner-up for the Immigration & Asylum award); Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (winner of the Legal Aid Team award; and solicitor Nicola Burgess was a runner-up for the Immigration award); South West London Law Centres (winner, Legal Aid Firm/Not for profit Agency award).
The LALY awards are organised on a not-for-profit basis by LAPG. TLEF has been a sponsor of the LALY awards since 2015, and this year sponsored its inaugural Regional Legal Aid Firm/Not for profit Agency award, which was won by Belfast-based KRW Law. Fiona Bawdon, TLEF head of comms, is founder and co-organiser of the event, which launched in 2003.
The virtual LALY20 ceremony can be watched, here:
There is a write up of LALY20 ceremony on LAPG's website, here: https://lapg.co.uk/lapg-hosts-first-ever-virtual-legal-aid-lawyer-of-the-year-awards-to-honour-social-justice-champions/