Children's Legal Service

Shelter's Children's Legal Service is a specialist service, based within Shelter's Legal Team in London. We represent children, young people and families with housing problems.

Putting children at the heart of housing and homelessness decisions, we advise and represent our clients while also campaigning to improve the policy and practice of dealing with homeless or poorly housed young people and families with children.

The Children's Legal Service is based in London but represents young people, children and families from across England.

What we do

We advise and represent our clients at all stages of the housing process, and are particularly keen to take on cases where we can make the most difference for chidren who are homeless or badly housed - cases involving issues Shelter can campaign on and those that could become test cases. We take referrals from any agency working with families or young people who need legal representation concerning their living arrangements. Examples include:

  • homeless 16 and 17 year olds, independent of the family
  • 'safety net' cases, where the council does not owe a full housing duty (eg housing options following an intentional homelessness decision or if the family is not eligible for assistance due to their immigration status)
  • the housing needs of children with disabilities, including advocating for suitable housing, necessary aids and adaptations

Although we prioritise these cases, we will of course consider any case which involves children and/or young people.

We also produce briefings, such as:

We've also produced a booklet for young people living on their own for the first time. Your First Home is written by one of our clients, based on his experiences of being homeless for nearly a year and then moving into his first flat. The booklet is full of useful practical and legal advice. If you would like hard copies of this booklet, please email us at the addresses below and we will arrange for them to be sent to your organisation.

Our test cases

We have intervened in a number of important cases concerning children and housing:

How we can help your agency

Casework

Our legal team is experienced in supporting advisers, so we can provide your agency with one-off or ongoing consultancy advice and support when dealing with any case affecting children. We can also deal with particularly complex cases, or those involving litigation. A large part of our work involves:

  • county court appeals in homelessness applications
  • judicial review proceedings
  • possession proceedings
  • complex test cases.

We have a legal aid contract and can also take on some pro bono cases for people who are not eligible for legal aid, thanks to support from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP.

Consultancy and support

Our legal team is experienced in supporting advisers, so we can provide one-off or ongoing advice when dealing with any case concerning children and housing issues.

If you have a particular issue in your area or with one of your cases that could feed into Shelter's policy and campaigning work, please let us know. Visit Shelter for more details about our campaigning and policy work.

How to make a referral

We take referrals from any agency working with families or children who need legal representation concerning their living arrangements.

If there's a case you believe we could help with then we would very much like to hear from you. We can't promise to take on every case, particularly at times when the level of demand for our service is high, but we will always be of help where we can.

To find out more or to refer a case to us, please contact Jo Underwood or Rachel Walker.

Please note that we cannot accept direct referrals from members of the public. If you need help with your own housing situation, please call our national helpline or visit your nearest Shelter advice service to speak to an adviser in person.

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