Light At The End Of The Tunnel

The Vauxhall Law Centre in Liverpool believes it now has ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ thanks to a fundraising grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

The centre is now a year through the three-year funding for a Debt Advisor role, which has been split between two members of staff, helping to carry out its vital service for the people of the city who need it most.

Vauxhall Law Centre, a registered charity based near Liverpool Docks, was set up 45 years ago as a result of a collaboration between the local community, the council, Liverpool Law Society and the John Moores Foundation, all of whom continue to support the work undertaken at the Centre.

Services are based around delivering high quality and free legal advice helping to combat poverty  and social exclusion, be it in ensuring people are able to receive correct benefits and reducing debt levels, or providing welfare law advice to help disabled people and their carers.

“The North Liverpool area includes places which have been hit very hard by reductions in government spending, particularly sick, disabled and vulnerable people,” says Alan Kelly, a fundraiser with the Vauxhall Law Centre.

“The Law Centre has had a difficult few years, but the grant from the Steve Morgan Foundation provided the light at the end of the tunnel and we now have increased confidence in the sustainability of the Centre for many years to come.

“The funding actually allowed us to keep on staff who were under the threat of redundancy, and has not only enabled us to continue our service provision, but also look at potential to develop those services going forward.

“The grant has made a world of difference to us, and, more importantly, our clients as well.

“We are hoping to report even greater achievements in the future, which wouldn’t have been possible without the generous assistance of the Steve Morgan Foundation.”

The Vauxhall Law centre advises over 1,500 people every year, and can provide representation at Social Security appeal tribunals and in court.

Indeed, in over 100 tribunals over a 12-month period, the Centre boasts a 100 per cent success record, helping a large number of disadvantaged people who would otherwise have been unable to benefit from proper legal advice.

Staff include a solicitor and a legally qualified debt advice worker, and also up to eight volunteers per year from local universities and the community.

Some of the successes include obtaining previously rejected Disability Living Allowance funding for a young boy suffering from asthma who required continual daily care, as well as Employment Living Allowance for a person suffering from heart problems and osteoarthritis who had their application rejected, despite ultimately requiring treatment in intensive care.

The cases in which the Law Centre has helped local people are extremely wide-ranging.

“We believe the service provided by the Law Centre provides outstanding value for money for the funding that we receive,” added Alan.

“We are proud to have an excellent reputation for delivering a high quality free legal advice centre combatting poverty, and a lot of this is down to the dedication of the staff and volunteers providing the services.

“The numbers of people seen and the financial benefits awarded to sick and vulnerable individuals and families locally continues to increase.

“And we are also aiming to further develop our services and increase our opening during Year two of the grant.”

The Steve Morgan Foundation made a grant of £54,478 to Vauxhall Law Centre to be spread across three years.

Trustee Vincent Fairclough is pictured at the official cheque handover last year, with Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, then Lord Mayor of Liverpool, and Pauline Connolly, Chair of the Vauxhall Law Centre Board.

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