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LawWorks charity recognises School’s contribution to pro bono work

20 November 2018

A charity committed to enabling access to justice has recognised the School of Law and Politics’ Pro Bono unit by shortlisting its work in two categories at this year’s annual awards.

The LawWorks Pro Bono awards take place annually and this November the School’s Pro Bono unit has featured in the shortlist for both the ‘Most Effective Pro Bono Partnership’ and ‘The LawWorks Cymru’ categories.

The unit’s work with Mencap Cymru on their Wales Independent Support & Empowerment (WISE) student advice project has been recognised in the ‘Most Effective Pro Bono Partnership’ category. This initiative began in 2015 after it was identified that support was needed in Wales for people who care for/support people with learning disabilities.

In 2015, a successful bid was made for a three-year Welsh Government sustainable social services grant for the Mencap WISE project to develop a series of toolkits across a range of legal topics, including child protection, accessing social and health care services and further education.

The toolkits provide easy to access guidance and are an important mechanism for empowering families struggling to access services. Since their launch, the toolkits have been accessed over 1,700 unique times and over 1,400 people have attended workshops provided by the project.

The Mencap Cymru initiative is just one of twelve pro bono clinics that the Pro Bono unit has cultivated since its launch in 2006. Subsequently, it is the work of the unit as a whole that is recognised in the ‘The LawWorks Cymru’ category.

The School recognises that many students wish to gain practical experience in order to supplement their academic learning. Additionally, the School has a responsibility to the communities of Cardiff and further afield to deliver knowledge exchange projects that help those who do not traditionally engage with the University.  As a result partnership, with both students and the wider community, is at the heart of the unit’s work.

Each of the unit’s schemes is delivered in conjunction with external partners, and a range of organisations, including solicitors’ firms, barristers’ chambers and third sector agencies.  The unit’s partnerships fall into two distinct categories: the schemes where a member of the School’s academic staff is responsible for day-to-day delivery, with an external partner(s) overseeing the advice provision; and the schemes which are delivered entirely by the partner organisation. In the region of 265 students are now involved in clinical work in any given year, contributing around 20,000 pro bono hours.  Since the clinical activities began, an estimated 1,750 students have participated.

The annual LawWorks Pro Bono Awards will be celebrated at a ceremony on Monday 3rd December 2018 at the Law Society, Chancery Lane, London.

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