On Monday 20th May a team of Z2K staff, volunteers and friends took part in the London Legal Walk. The Walk raises money for a wide range of charities and organisations to provide free legal advice. This year it was bigger than ever before with a record of 428 teams and 7,500 walkers, among them Judges, QCs, solicitors and legal advisers.
This year’s walk comes at a time when the government has cut the legal aid bill by £350 million a year, removing support for most housing, debt and welfare related cases. This will have a devastating effect on the ability of people in poverty to access justice. For example Shelter have said they will have to cut 10 of its housing advice centres in England because of an effective 50 per cent reduction in funding for the charity’s face-to-face advice services. It is in this context of growing demand and falling supply that access to free legal advice is more important than ever before.
The Z2K team were walking to raise money for our vital advice and support services. It took 11 of us just over two and half hours to walk the 10km around London (some slower than others!). We were left tired and blister ridden but our exertions were for a worthwhile cause. We have already seen a huge increase in our caseload this year and many of the benefit changes have yet to take full effect. We are pleased therefore to have raised just over £9,000 so far. But while this is an impressive amount it falls short of last year’s £10,623.50 and our target of £15,000 so if you haven’t already you can still donate here.
Part of the money raised will go to our Relief from Poverty fund which is used to make one off payments to temporarily help vulnerable families and individuals who find themselves with no other source of income through no fault of their own.
For example one of our clients had all his benefit taken away as a sanction for not attending a JobCentre meeting because he was busy attending a course the JobCentre had sent him on. We helped him to appeal successfully but this took a couple of weeks during which he had no funds at all. The fund gave him some money for food and fuel without which he would have gone hungry. If you want to help us to continue to support clients such as these please give generously.