Tudor Trust grant secures future of Suffolk Law Advice Centre

Ann Barber from the Suffolk Law Advice Centre, part of the ISCRE family of organisations.

Ann Barber from the Suffolk Law Advice Centre, part of the ISCRE family of organisations. - Credit: Archant

The future of a service providing free legal advice to some of the most needy and vulnerable people in Suffolk has been secured for another three years.

The Suffolk Law Advice Centre (LAC), a joint venture involving the Suffolk & North Essex Law Society, national pro bono charity LawWorks and the Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), has been awarded a grant of £27,000 by the national Tudor Trust charity to cover its core costs.

The LAC, which is based in St Matthew’s Street, Ipswich, but offers help to residents across the county, provides 30 minutes of free legal advice in areas such as family, immigration, personal injury, employment, housing, small claims and community care.

Around 70 local legal professionals volunteer their time and expertise, helping the centre provide a minimum of 32 free half-hour sessions each month.

However, Ann Barber, the LAC’s legal officer, said: “Whilst all the lawyers give their time for free, the service still has significant costs including the salary of the Law Advice Centre officer, who recruits, organises and co-ordinates all the volunteers.

“Costs arise from the provision of accommodation, heating, lighting, reception staff to deal with all the enquiries, printing and telephone costs, professional insurance and interpreter costs. We also offer free interpreters where required, as it is so important that the correct information is exchanged between lawyer and client.”

She added: “Cutbacks to the Legal Aid budget have meant that getting even basic legal guidance is beyond the means of many local people.

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“The Suffolk Law Advice Centre has successfully filled that gap for the last three years and I’m delighted that, thanks to the Tudor Trust, we’ll be able to continue providing our services for the next three years as well. We cannot thank the Tudor Trust enough for supporting this crucial service.”