Justice for All launch

31 January 2011

Deborah and Charlie at Justice for All launch

Shelter has joined Justice for All, the campaign for the protection of social welfare advice which was launched in the House of Commons last week.

The coalition of legal and advice agencies, charities, politicians, trade unions, community groups, and members of the public, is fighting government proposals to cut legal aid.

Read Shelter’s response to the Government’s proposals

Shelter was at the launch to show support and lobby MPs, and some of our clients gave powerful testimonies describing how Shelter's legal aid services had helped them.

Organisers were overwhelmed by the numbers attending the event and were forced to run two sessions so that MPs could hear from the speakers. Deborah, a Shelter client, was one of them.

Deborah's story

Deborah told the group how she and her 11 year old daughter Charlie (pictured) had been living in a hostel for several months after escaping domestic abuse. Shelter pressured the council to re-house them.

But then new neighbours moved into the flat opposite and started a campaign of harassment and intimidation. The council refused to act without evidence – which Deborah was too frightened to collect. Shelter took on Deborah’s case and argued that she and her daughter were under extreme stress and urgently needed to move for their health.

As a result of Shelter’s intervention, the council offered Deborah and Charlie a better home.

Deborah said: ‘I don’t know where we’d be without Shelter’s help…I certainly wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in with my little girl. We wouldn’t be safe, we wouldn’t be re-housed, and we would not be where we are today, in a good home'.

Sir Alan Beith, chairperson of the Justice Select Committee and a Liberal Democrat MP, said: ‘While the government is not going to sign a blank cheque for legal aid in the future, support must be given to people most in need'.

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