The annual national conference for Law Centres was held in Belfast this year, on 10-11 November, with numerous delegates from Law Centres and partner organisations from across the UK and abroad.
The conference addressed three main themes: human rights and their protection; migration and the challenge of supporting migrants in the UK; and the encroachment of populist politics on civil society.
The excellent line-up of speakers has included Martha Spurrier, the newly appointed director of charity Liberty; Les Allamby, chief commissioner at the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission; Bernard McCloskey, the president of the Upper Tribunal Immigration and Asylum Chamber, and Jonathan Price, associate researcher at COMPAS in the University of Oxford.
For the first time, plenary sessions were broadcast live online and are now available through LCN's Facebook page.
The conference has also included the Law Centres Network's annual general meeting. This year, our Law Centres have voted to welcome a new member, Greater Manchester Law Centre - until now only a local steering group. This renews the Law Centres presence in Manchester after previous Law Centres were forced to shut in the wake of government's civil legal aid cuts.
Three accolades were awarded at the conference:
- The Reita Clarke Memorial Award for Excellence went to Ealing Law Centre for their rapid development in just over 3 years of existence
- The Olaronke Flora Williams Prize for Advancing Equalities went to immigration solicitor Rajitha Kumar of South West London Law Centres
- A lifetime achievement award went to Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hons), a Law Centres stalwart and social justice campaigner for over four decades.
For a summary of LCN's work and its impact in the year leading up to this conference, please read our latest annual review, 'More Than Our Sum', launched at the conference.
We would like to thank everyone involved in making this conference a great success, and in particular our Law Centre NI.
[image: conference delegates at a formal reception at the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont]