Streetwise Community Law Centre has taken the difficult decision to close on 31 August 2013. The current funding environment means that the Law Centre, although not technically insolvent, will not have enough secured funding to ensure its future viability. Funding for services to young people was badly hit by legal aid cuts nationally and by London Councils' decision last year to no longer fund legal advice.
For over 13 years Streetwise Community Law Centre, in the London Borough of Bromley, provided a pan-London expert legal advice service to young people aged between 16 to 25 years. More recently, the service was extended to all eligible local residents.
The Law Centre undertook groundbreaking work and was the first of its kind in England. It offered specialist legal advice and representation in housing, education, welfare benefits, debt and community care – providing a joined up service for young people and supporting them through stressful, difficult times. The Law Centre's solicitors and advisers developed an innovative approach to delivering legal advice using young person-friendly techniques, keeping young people firmly at the heart of the service.
Janet Tibbalds, Chair of Trustees of Streetwise Community Law Centre, said: “we are very sad to have arrived at the decision to close the Law Centre, not least because children and young people across London and many other adults will lose an important service. We have a dedicated, hard-working team who have worked wonders for our clients. They have not only delivered excellent legal advice and casework, but have always done so in a sensitive and caring way, supporting young people and all clients at a crucial time in their lives when they are at their most vulnerable.”
Julie Bishop, Director of the Law Centres Network, said: “Streetwise is truly a ‘Law Centre that could’ and is a great loss to the Law Centre’s clients. It had an innovative approach that sought to address the specific needs of its client group. The fact that funding cuts are making such a service unsustainable means that central and local government are both effectively failing our young people, denying them a vital lifeline and exposing them to avoidable hardship and distress. This is a sad day for young people and a sad day for justice.”
For more details on this please contact Holly Padfield-Paine, Young People’s Programme Manager, Law Centres Network, at firstname.lastname@example.org.