By Frank Pachas
A legal charity is trying to raise £1m to support free legal advice agencies facing closure.
London Legal Support Trust (LLST) for litigants unable to pay for legal services is running a series of outdoor events this year in a bid to provide access to justice.
Walk the Thames, which happened in May, is the first of many 2021 LLST marathon events supporting 120 legal agencies, some of which are based in Peckham, Wandsworth, Lewisham and Merton.
The marathon gathered 120 lawyers and colleagues who raised £15,000 to provide free legal advice in areas such as housing and employment to vulnerable members of the community.
Southwark Law Centre CEO Sally Causer said: “Our offices in Peckham and Lewisham deal with over 1,500 complex legal cases every year for some of the most vulnerable members of the community.
“As well as raising much needed funds, the walk was also a great opportunity for team members to meet up safely — some for the first time since lockdown.
“All in all it has been a boost for staff morale, and I would like to thank all the people who sponsored us.”
Walk the Thames consisted of a full marathon from Tower Bridge to Hampton Court and a half marathon from Putney to Hampton Court on 22 May.
South West London Law Centres (SWLLC) CEO Patrick Marples, who also took part in Walk the Thames, said: “After so many lockdowns it was a great day to be out for the day. However, with no training I really felt the 26 miles.
“The pandemic and lockdowns have created a dramatic increase in the need for advice and help particularly in matters such as debt and welfare rights. At the same time the income of Law Centres has been reduced.
“So the events such as Walk the Thames and the London Walk bring in make a huge difference to us at this very difficult time.”
Mr Marples added SWLLC directly helped 5802 people with advice, casework and court representation despite the pandemic.
LLST, with legal agencies across London and the South East, will also be running a 5k distance London Legal Walkies for dogs and their owners on July 10 in Greenwich or Victoria Park.
A following outdoor event will be the Big Half Marathon set for August 22 which will kick off by Tower Bridge and finish at Greenwich Park.
The biggest event will be the London Legal Walk on 18 October 2021, a 10km walk with three routes, one of which will pass along South Bank.
Former Court of Appeal Judge Sir Peter Gross, who led the Walk the Thames walkers in the half marathon, said: “It is heartening to see so many lawyers and their colleagues at evens like Walk the Thames and the London Legal Walk raising funds to provide access to justice for those who cannot afford to pay it.”
There are more events which will take place between June and November across England and Scotland.
You can find out more about LLST events here: https://londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk/our-events/
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.