COVID-19 pandemic prompts Suffolk Law Centre to expand its support
Suffolk’s highly-acclaimed legal advice centre has announced the establishment of a new service aimed at assisting elderly residents and their families to access the right support. Based in St Matthews’ Street, Ipswich and co-located with its sister organisation, Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, the Suffolk Law Centre (SLC) was established in April 2018 after a successful crowdfunding campaign.
The Centre provides free advice in key legal areas, including employment, housing, family and personal injury, as well as legal casework in discrimination.
Since its launch, SLC comprising both staff and volunteers has helped hundreds of local people tackle their legal challenges – a vital service given the massive reductions in Legal Aid support over the last few years.
The launch of its new wills, probate and elder care clinic this month is a direct response to the growth in demand the SLC has experienced over the last year for pro bono advice in these specific legal areas.
Audrey Ludwig, SLC’s legal director explained the new service: “Wherever possible, the SLC seeks to deploy its limited resources to meet the needs of the county’s residents experiencing the greatest need. The pandemic of 2020 has significantly changed many lives and we have been approached by those in need, seeking advice on Wills and Probate, as well as related issues. We have also seen an increase in requests and the need for elder care legal advice during this time.”
The new service offers 30-minute free legal consultations with SLC’s experienced, volunteer lawyers from Ashtons Legal Solicitors amongst others. These specialists can advise on issues such as probate and the administration of estates, paying for elder care, applications to the Court of Protection, will and probate disputes and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 and information on Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Janette Wand, Senior Associate in the Lifetime Planning team at Ashtons Legal said: “We think it is important for our community to have a local source of free initial advice on issues like Wills, Powers of Attorney and Inheritance. They are topics which have an effect on everyone and which can cause tensions and worries within families. If we can help out and point people in the right direction, then we think that is time well spent.”
Audrey added: “It can be very stressful dealing with the death, sickness or incapacity of an elder family member and our volunteer advisors are able to provide advice and assistance to help you to understand your options and be better able to make informed decisions. While we cannot prepare your documents for you, our advisors are specialists during your free 30-minute consultation can give you advice on your legal issues that could save you and your family significant time and expense.”
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